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Red Sox vs. Rays lineups: Threat Level Midnight

The struggling Sox can fall into a tie for second by the end of the day with a loss and a Yankees win.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, the Red Sox were riding high. Tonight they can fall into a second-place tie with a loss and a Yankees win, but Nate Eovaldi looks to do against Tampa Bay what he couldn’t do last time out—keep a sinking Sox team afloat (7:10 p.m., NESN).

The whiplash of this losing spell is real, and has real consequences. Winning the division, a 50/50 proposition at the All-Star break, is now a pipe dream. The Sox have gone 10-14 since the Midsummer Classic, with Matt Barnes, All Star, pointing the way to the bottom. You could say positive regression is coming soon, or you could look at the first half of the season and say this is the negative regression we could have expected with the patchwork rotation Chaim Bloom assembled in the offseason. Both might be right, but it’s hard to feel good about the team right now.

Even Eovaldi is struggling, leaving no real anchor to the rotation. Chris Sale isn’t now a supplement to a solid four-man group; he is its savior, but he cannot do it alone. Tonight Eovaldi will be matched by Tampa’s Josh Fleming, a homegrown Tampa Bay product—a fifth round pick!—who has been basically as good as any of the Sox starters this year, and shows the organizational depth the Sox have decided to rebuild at the expense of, well, going for it this year.

So maybe they get what they deserve and maybe they don’t, but it just makes the outlook that much bleaker when the Rays put another game between them and us with every win. With all hands on deck, Kevin Plawecki is back at catcher with bat in tow, and all we can do is hope that he or someone else can make a difference. The night is always darkest before the dawn, but it sure feels like we have a few hours to go before that. Fortunately for us, I’m wrong a lot. Let’s hope it’s one of these times.

Anyhow here are the lineups!

Game 116 vs. Rays

Lineup spot Rays Red Sox
Lineup spot Rays Red Sox
1 Brandon Lowe, 2B Kiké Hernández, 2B
2 Ji-Man Choi, 1B Hunter Renfroe, RF
3 Nelson Cruz, DH Xander Bogaerts, SS
4 Austin Meadows, LF Rafael Devers, 3B
5 Wander Franco, SS J.D. Martinez, DH
6 Randy Arozarena, RF Kevin Plawecki, C
7 Joey Wendle, 3B Marwin Gonzalez, LF
8 Brett Phillips, CF Bobby Dalbec, 1B
9 Francisco Mejía, C Jarren Duran, CF
SP Josh Fleming, LHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP