Tampa Bay Rays Inside Pitch 2009-04-30

The last time the Red Sox were at Tropicana Field, the Rays were beating them for the AL pennant. Now the Rays will be happy just to beat them.

After wrapping up a disappointing 3-6 road trip Wednesday night at Minnesota, the Rays return to the Trop for a vitally important four-game weekend series with the red-hot Red Sox.

"You don't want to build it up, but it is what it is, it's playing the Red Sox," reliever J.P. Howell said. "It's on, man. Obviously, they're on a hot streak and we're battling, but at the same time it takes a good, solid game to get a nice roll going."

Said manager Joe Maddon: "It's a different level of intensity, no question."

The Rays opened the season by taking two of three from the Red Sox in Boston but have struggled since, losing six straight series for the first time since 2004.

"It's big anytime we play Boston," left fielder Carl Crawford said. "We want to try to get as many as we can to catch up. ... We always have confidence when we play at home. They've been playing well right now, so we don't think it's going to be easy. We have to try to play our game and hopefully we can come up with a couple wins."

TWINS 8, RAYS 3: The Rays showcased all elements of their disappointing start, combing an ineffective outing by LHP Scott Kazmir, another night of unproductive offense and some untidy defense. The Rays were down 4-0 in the first and never challenged as they lost their sixth straight series. To make matters worse, SS Jason Bartlett left the game with left hamstring tightness.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009