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Red Sox at Rays lineups: Rubber, meet road

It’s probably not a stretch to say tonight’s Nick Pivetta start marks the most important game of the year so far.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The most important series of the year so far, by far, begins tonight in Florida as the Sox take on the first-place Rays behind Nick Pivetta (7:10 p.m., NESN, ESPN).

After yesterday’s demoralizing loss in Cleveland, the Sox sit eight games back of the Rays with one day to go in August. They’re also two games back of the Yankees, but still currently occupy a wild card spot. So that’s good. The hard part isn’t occupying the spot as much as it is keeping the spot, which could be tough against a Tampa Bay team buoyed by the hot-hitting rookie Wander Franco and the ageless wonder Nelson Cruz.

We love timely references, don’t we folks? Anyhow, lest this season amount to nothing, the Sox are going to have to not get kicked around by the Rays, a tall order when our boys have barely beaten some of the worst teams in baseball in a dreadful month. Which is almost over, but not quite, not yet.

The Rays start Luis Patiño, a top pitching prospect acquired from the San Diego Padres, and one who’s been on and off, allowing four runs over six innings to the Sox in a win earlier this month. Pivetta has two straight starts over allowing four runs over four or fewer innings and looks to get back on track against stiff competition.

It’s possible you’ll need a stiff drink, but it’s baseball, so it’s always possible everything goes right. If it does, it’ll be behind a lineup with Yairo Muñoz playing second and batting ninth, which is where we are at this point. You can only do what you can do. Can you win? Well, well, we will see.

Game 133 at Rays

Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
1 Kyle Schwarber, DH Brandon Lowe, 2B
2 Rafael Devers, 3B Nelson Cruz, DH
3 J.D. Martinez, LF Wander Franco, SS
4 Xander Bogaerts, SS Austin Meadows, LF
5 Alex Verdugo, RF Yandy Díaz, 1B
6 Bobby Dalbec, 1B Joey Wendle, 3B
7 Christian Vázquez, C Manuel Margot, RF
8 Jarren Duran, CF Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9 Yairo Muñoz, 2B Mike Zunino, C
SP Nick Pivetta, RHP Luis Patiño, RHP