Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview

JJ StrausserContributor IJune 29, 2008

With the scent of first place in the air, the Boston Red Sox will face the Tampa Bay Rays for a pivotal three game series in Tampa. This will be the first time that the Rays will play the Red Sox and be in first place.

First place won't be the only thing up for grabs this week. Pride will also be on the line after the last series had both teams involved in a bench clearing brawl that ended up in many suspensions (Coco Crisp receiving the longest).

This will be the first trip to Tampa for the Red Sox since being swept back on April 25-27.

The only way the Sox can be in first place by the end of this series is to win a game on the road which is something that neither team has done all year against one another.

The pitching match-ups will lay out in favor of the Rays as they will be sending out their big three:

Monday: James Shields (5-5 3.76) vs. Justin Masterson (4-1 3.43)             Tuesday: Matt Garza (6-4 3.76) vs. Tim Wakefield (5-5 3.88)

Wednesday: Scott Kazmir (7-3 2.28) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1 3.21)

This week will be huge not just for the Red Sox, but for the Rays as well as they look to assert themselves as the class in the AL East.