Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14
The Red Sox’ impressive series wins over the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees last week have given Boston a solid cushion for the No. 1 seed in the American League playoffs. If that were to hold, the Sox would play the one-game Wild Card winner in the ALDS, making the three-game series in St. Petersburg starting Tuesday night a potential playoff preview with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays enter the week in sole possession of the second wild card spot, with the Orioles and Indians trailing Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games, but Tampa Bay is slumping at the wrong time. The Rays lost their past four series, and they have fallen in 11 of their last 15 games. Star third baseman Evan Longoria is hitting just .176 with two extra-base hits in that span. But a vast majority of those past 15 games were on the road, and Tampa Bay has the AL’s best home record at 44-26. Even with ace Clay Buchholz back from the disabled list and set to start Tuesday’s opener, the Sox are +135 Bovada underdogs for that game, and will be around the same number on the series line. Buchholz (9-0, 1.71) will be limited to around 80 pitches. His best start of the season was April 14 against Tampa Bay as Buchholz blanked Tampa Bay on two hits over eight innings, striking out 11 and holding the Rays hitless until the eighth. Buchholz has shut down Longoria over their careers as the third baseman is hitting just .219 with 11 strikeouts in 32 at-bats. Buchholz is countered by lefty David Price (8-7, 3.51). Price was clobbered last Thursday in Anaheim, allowing six runs and 11 hits in seven innings. The left-hander has lost consecutive starts for the first time since the 2011 season. Sox fans will remember Price made back-to-back starts against Boston at Fenway in late July due to a rainout.  Price won both, allowing two earned runs and just seven hits in 16.1 innings. He is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts against Boston this year. Mike Napoli has a home run in 10 at-bats off Price this season, Jacoby Ellsbury is 1-for-12 against him and Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-12 with four strikeouts. Wednesday’s game will feature Live Betting, and Tampa Bay will send right-hander and Boston native Alex Cobb (8-3, 2.99) to the mound. He didn’t pitch well his last time out, either, allowing four runs and seven hits in a loss to Seattle. The Rays have lost his past three starts, although Cobb has a 2.93 ERA in five starts since coming off the DL with a head injury suffered on a scary line drive. Cobb is 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against the Sox this year. Pedroia is 4-for-9 with two RBIs off Cobb, Shane Victorino is 3-for-8 with two doubles and no Boston player has homered off Cobb in 2013. Thursday, Tampa Bay starts Jeremy Hellickson (11-8, 5.04). He shut out the Angels over 5.1 innings last time out and is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against Boston this year. Ellsbury has three hits in six at-bats in 2013 off him. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a homer and double in six at-bats. Boston leads the season series 10-6 and is 4-2 at Tropicana Field. Filed under: Boston Red Sox, Headlines, MLB, Partner Staff, Tampa Bay Rays
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Has Blake Griffin taken the next step?

Mike Evans liked Winston more than Mariota

Ernie Johnson gives his Emmy to Stuart Scott’s daughters

Titus Young avoids prison, receives probation

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland to golf community


Ex sues Mayweather for $20M for lying in Couric interview

The NBA needs to leave 'hack-a-whoever' rules alone

Top Rank threatens to sue over Mayweather-Pacquiao piracy

Titans already tailoring offense to suit Mariota's strengths

Pettine: Manziel isn't favorite for Browns' starting QB job

Randy Gregory denies 'weed problem,' says he's immature

WATCH: Zack Greinke does great bat flip after hitting double

WATCH: Fan uses beer as ice pack after being hit by ball

La'el Collins reportedly has 'airtight alibi' in murder case

WATCH: Stephen Curry nails shot from hallway prior to game

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

No homers, no problem for Cubs' Kris Bryant

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

NFL releases times and dates for preseason slate

Fans file $5M class action suit against Pacquiao over injury

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Brandon Prust sorry for saying referee ‘tries to play God’

Ron Roenicke and the career afterlives of fired managers

MLB 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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Projecting the All-Star Game rosters

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

What’s next for the Spurs?

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
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.