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Rays at Red Sox, ALDS Game 4: Collin McHugh opening, Brandon Lowe hitting third

Tampa Bay has to beat Boston tonight, then again Wednesday in Game 5 at Tropicana Field.
Collin McHugh will serve as the Rays' opener tonight at Fenway Park, likely to work two-three innings.
Collin McHugh will serve as the Rays' opener tonight at Fenway Park, likely to work two-three innings. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 11
Updated Oct. 11

The Rays entered the postseason expecting to play in the World Series, which could stretch past Halloween into November.

Instead, they face the potential to be eliminated in tonight’s Columbus Day game at Fenway Park.

That’s because, after losing Sunday’s thrilling 6-4, 13-inning classic, the Rays are down 2-1 in the best-of-five American League Division Series against the Red Sox.

With a win tonight, the Rays will force a fifth and decisive game Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

With a loss, they will head — shockingly — into an early winter.

The Rays planned a bullpen day pitching ensemble for Game 4 from the start of the series. But after using nine pitchers on Sunday, their options are somewhat limited.

Collin McHugh will serve as the opener, likely to work two-three innings, with Michael Wacha most available to cover bulk innings. McHugh worked in Game 2 and was not sharp, allowing two homers in a seven-batter span.

Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays will definitely take an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, which will include having both rookie starters from Games 1 and 2, Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz. Also available will be Luis Patino, who gave up the game-losing homer on Sunday, as well as the relievers who had relatively light usage: Josh Fleming (12 pitches Sunday), Andrew Kittredge (16), Pete Fairbanks (19), J.P. Feyereisen (11), Matt Wisler (seven) and JT Chargois (20).

As expected, Cash is sticking with the struggling veterans in the lineup, including Brandon Lowe, who is 0-for-14 in the first three games with six strikeouts. Lowe is batting third tonight with the Sox starting lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who is not expected to work deep into the game.

Cash said he didn’t give “one iota of thought” to not playing Lowe, who had 39 homers and 99 RBIs during the season.

Asked about his struggles, Lowe said:

“It feels like I haven’t gotten any hits.”

Asked if there was a reason for his slow start (0-for-14, 6 Ks), Lowe repeated:

“It feels like I haven’t gotten any hits.”

Also in the lineup are catcher Mike Zunino, who is 1-for-12 with six strikeouts, and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, 3-for-14 with four strikeouts.

Here is the Rays lineup for their 166th, and potentially final, game of the season:

And for the Red Sox:

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