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One of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon’s favorite things about visiting Fenway Park is the convenient reminder of the AL East standings, which are updated daily and posted on the scoreboard on the Green Monster.
Don’t look now, Red Sox fans, but those standings just got tighter.
For that, Maddon and the Rays can thank left-hander Matt Moore, who pitched arguably the best game against the Red Sox this season. Moore tossed a two-hit, complete-game shutout last night in a 3-0 victory that shaved the Sox’ division lead to a half-game over Tampa Bay.
“He pitched very well, and obviously they’re a good team, they’re a hot team,” right fielder Shane Victorino said. “But it’s not the end of the world. People are going to make whatever out of it. We’re still in first place. They’re still a half-game behind us. It’s not the end of the season for us.”
Far from it, actually. And with 61 games remaining, the Red Sox figure to spend the next two months jockeying for position with the Rays and third-place Orioles before the AL East crown is awarded.
Herald: Sox offense cools off as Matt Moore, Rays take series opener
Matt Moore was dazzling last night, moving to 14-3 on the season, as the Red Sox offense could only muster two-hits versus Moore and his complete-game shutout. This certainly isn't one of the best starts in one of the more important home-stands of the year in a tight AL East.
Is last night's offensive performance a potential preview of what we're going to see from this lineup in the playoffs? Although they've been timely, this Red Sox lineup does lack serious pop. Let's face it: there are some holes in this lineup. Napoli and Salty are strikeout machines. Iglesias will come back down to earth. Nava has overachieved. Papi is pushing 40. And a certain third-baseman, who was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the lineup, is down in Pawtucket.
I know the bullpen is an immediate concern at the trade deadline, but this four-game series against an elite Rays pitching staff could bump up the need for a significant right-handed bat towards the top of the list.
Rest of the links:
Herald: Clay Buchholz checks out fine | Herald: James Loney finds his place | Herald: Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes well-earned breather | Globe: It's time for Clay Buchholz to start pitching | Globe: Rays' Matt Moore 2-hits Red Sox | Globe: Dr. James Andrews gives Clay Buchholz OK to pitch | Globe: Red Sox' Jonny Gomes can handle lefty pitchers |