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Red Sox vs. Rays lineups: Must win? Must not lose

The Red Sox aren't in must-win territory, but facing the prospect of dropping a third series to a cellar-dwelling Rays team, they're kind of in must-not-lose territory.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Sox are in danger of dropping a third series to a Rays team that's likely to finish the season with fewer than 70 wins. So that's not great.


Dustin Pedroia, 2B Logan Forsythe, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS Kevin Kiermaier, CF
David Ortiz, DH Evan Longoria, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF Brad Miller, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B Nick Franklin, RF
Sandy Leon, C Logan Morrison, 1B
Chris Young, LF Tim Beckham, SS
Aaron Hill, 3B Corey Dickerson, LF
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF Bobby Wilson, C
Starting Pitcher -- Steven Wright Starting Pitcher -- Drew Smyly

It's August 31st, and not only are the Red Sox just two games out of first place in the east, but they're one game up on the second wild card spot, and two on the nearest challenger. To call any game a must-win in this situation is certainly silly.

But there's games you have to win, and games you just can't lose. This is kind of the latter. It's big in part because Steven Wright has to show he's not the guy who showed up in the first inning in his return to the mound, but the one who shut down the Royals afterward. But mostly it's big because the Red Sox just can't lose another damn series to these Rays. The Sox have done disappointingly little against the cellar dwellers of the AL East this year, particularly given how often they've shown up as the supposed light at the end of the tunnel when the Red Sox have been struggling.

All they have to do is beat the guy who held them to one hit over eight innings back in April. Everything is fine.

First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN, WEEI, and the MLB Network.