Stop, Trop and Roll

“Maybe it was the Ghost of Fenway Past remembering he bad-mouthed all our fans and our stadium, directing the ball at his leg” said Bobby Valentine of Luke Scott who was hit by a pitch in a wild 9th inning on May 25th last year.

Of course, Valentine is long gone but Scott and the pitcher from that night, Franklin Morales, will perhaps matchup again as the Red Sox visit Tropicana Field this week for a three game series.

The ‘Trop’ itself can be somewhat of a ghost town, the grand 40,473 capacity stadium is barely half filled most of the time – according to MLB records the Rays are 27th in average attendance, with 18,084, only Houston, Miami and Cleveland rank worse. Wikipedia says “Tropicana Field is a domed stadium in St. Petersburg” the missing ‘o’ remaining an undetected error to this day.

In 2012 the disappointing Sox somehow managed to split the season jousts with Joe Maddon and his rag-tag Rays but this year John Farrell and the revitalised Red Sox have rolled to a 5-1 record so far.

It would be foolish man who discounts the Rays at this point, they are just four games back and the memory of the end of the 2011 season hasn’t quite faded into the ether yet.

In game one John Lackey (3-5) will face Alex Cobb (6-2) – Lackey has pitched better than his record shows and comes into the game with a 2.79 ERA and the highest SO/9 of his career at 8.7.

Jon Lester (6-2) takes the mound against Roberto Hernandez (3-6), Hernandez has given up 5 runs in four of his last ten starts. Lester has not been sharp in his last four outings giving up 16 earned runs in 25.1 innings (5.68 ERA).

The Red Sox are still to decide Wednesday’s starter but and Joe Maddon will go with Chris Archer (1-1). Archer faced the Red Sox last year going 5 innings and giving up 3 runs in a 13-3 Rays win.

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