Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14
The Red Sox can put some distance between themselves and the white-hot Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East race this week during their four-game series. But the Rays won’t be easy to hold off, especially after Monday’s Tampa Bay win. The Rays haven’t lost a series since dropping two of three at Fenway on June 18-19 (when the Sox swept a doubleheader). They entered this one having won 17 of 19 games. On June 22, the Rays were tied with the Blue Jays for last in the AL East, but they’re now just 1/2 game behind the Red Sox. Boston is a -145 series favorite (first three games only), with Tampa at +115. The Rays have their own Yasiel Puig-type in rookie slugger Wil Myers. Tampa Bay is 22-8 entering Monday since Myers was called up from Triple-A. The Sox’s Jose Iglesias might be the AL Rookie of the Year favorite right now, but Myers is closing the gap, especially with Iglesias’ bat having cooled off in July. Tampa Bay also is getting big seasons from guys such as first baseman James Loney and second baseman Kelly Johnson, veteran castoffs who could have been had by any team this offseason. Boston remains the even money favorite to win the AL East, with Tampa Bay at +160. Tampa starts Roberto Hernandez — formerly Fausto Carmona — Tuesday. Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA) is the weak link of the staff and might not be in the rotation much longer. The righty has been decent recently, allowing exactly three earned runs in each of his past three starts. The Rays have won the past two. Hernandez faced the Sox on June 11 at Tropicana Field and allowed three earned runs and eight hits over seven innings in the Rays’ 8-3 win. That’s the only start in Hernandez’s past eight in which he didn’t allow a homer. He also tied a season high with seven strikeouts. A David Ortiz hitting prop might be a wise baseball bet here, as Big Papi is batting .409 with a homer and five RBIs in his career off Hernandez. Dustin Pedroia is just 1-for-14 lifetime against Hernandez. On Wednesday, reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price takes the mound for the Rays. Price (4-5, 4.03) started the season terribly and then landed on the disabled list. He has been a different pitcher since returning, allowing seven total earned runs over four starts. The Rays have won three of them. His final start before going on the DL was May 15 against Boston, and Price lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing four runs. He left with an injury in the third inning after allowing an RBI single to Ortiz, who is 6-for-27 in his career off Price. Mike Napoli struggles big time against Price — he has struck out 11 times in 18 at-bats. Pedroia has solved Price well, batting .343 with a homer in his career against the lefty. Jeremy Hellickson (9-3, 4.62) is Tampa’s scheduled starter Thursday. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his past six starts. That run started when Hellickson gave up two runs in six innings of a 6-2 victory at Boston on June 19. He’s 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA career against the Red Sox. Filed under: Boston Red Sox, Headlines, MLB, NESN Staff, Odds, Partner Staff, Tampa Bay Rays
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ohio governor decrees playoff committee honorary Ohioans

Lance Stephenson becoming a problem with the Hornets?

Tony Romo: I promise I'll be better next week

Seahawks could wait to address Russell Wilson's contract

Report: SMU football to hire Clemson offensive coordinator

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hockey goalie rushes into stands to perform CPR on fan

49ers CEO Jed York apologizes for unacceptable performance

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

Australian cricket player dies from head injuries

WATCH: Mickey Rourke TKO’d a man half his age in Moscow

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Five bold predictions for Week 13 in the NFL

Brady Quinn pens 'note' to Jets quarterback Geno Smith

Bills center Eric Wood gained 7.4 pounds at Thanksgiving

Cubs reliever somehow OK after being involved in awful accident

Seahawks players throw shade at 49ers after victory

Five takeaways from NFL's Thanksgiving Day action

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

Eric Berry sends out Thanksgiving message

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks about Eminem referencing her

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Is Lance a problem for the Hornets?

5 NFL takeaways from Thanksgiving

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Rose leaves with injury again

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.