The Red Sox will field their regular lineup on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and starter Jeremy Hellickson in the opener of a four-game set between the two teams in hottest pursuit of the AL wild card. The Rays arrive in Boston four games behind the Sox.
While David Ortiz was unable to play on Tuesday and Wednesday due to back spasms and Adrian Gonzalez left Wednesday's game after the sixth inning due to tightness in his left calf, both players will be in the lineup on Thursday, with Kevin Youkilis also remaining in the lineup despite his hip injury and sports hernia.
The presence of those three is significant given the degree to which Rays pitching has dominated the Sox this year. Tampa Bay's staff is 9-5 with a 2.69 ERA against the Sox this year; Sox hitters have just a .177 average and .609 OPS against the Rays pitchers.
For matchup information about how Hellickson has done against the Sox and how Rays hitters have done...
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show Thursday, saying that though the Red Sox are slumping and have let the Rays come within four games of them in the Wild Card race with the teams set to play a four-game set, the team can't panic.
"We're four games up. We haven't played very well. They've played pretty well, but we don't need to go into this game thinking 'Oh my God, they're chasing us.' We need to play our game tonight," Francona said. "If they beat us, we need to come back and play tomorrow.
"When you start thinking about what you did yesterday or the day before, it just wears on you and you kind of get that hangover effect. We don't need that. We're beat up enough right now. We've got to fight our way through it, and hopefully we can get close to full strength, and then you can really see our team. We may not be able to show that now, but that doesn't mean we can't win."
Dustin Pedroia was a guest of the Mut and Merloni show on Thursday and discussed the recent struggles of Daniel Bard. The Sox reliever took the loss on Wednesday, allowing three runs in the eighth inning against the Blue Jays. Bard has a 17.36 ERA in five September appearances (4.2 innings pitched) and has walked five batters, already his highest total for any month this season.
"He's just got to slow everything down," Pedroia said. "I was trying to give him a breather yesterday with the sac bunt. You just got to take it one pitch at a time. When you speed the game up, that's when things kind of snowball on you. His stuff is some of the best in baseball. The furthest thing I'm worried about is Daniel Bard."
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FOXBORO -- Center Dan Koppen and defensive lineman Mike Wright were the only two players to miss the start of Patriots practice on Thursday as the team practiced in shorts and shells on the lower grass field. Koppen was listed Wednesday with a fibula injury while Wright was out with a concussion.
Right cornerback Leigh Bodden returned on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a bad back.
FOXBORO -- In a continuing revolving door of offensive lineman, the Patriots welcomed back Thomas Welch on Thursday, just two days after released him to make room for Donald Thomas. The Patriots announced they have signed Welch back to the practice squad, and he takes the place of offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who was released.
The Patriots are still trying to build depth along the line, with the loss of center Dan Koppen to a broken left ankle. Dan Connolly has been forced to take over center responsibilities for the time being. The Patriots were also bolstered by the return of starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to the practice field on Wednesday after he missed last week and Monday night's season opener at Miami.
Veteran Brian Waters and Ryan Wendell are the only listed options on the depth chart at right guard, with rookie Nate Solder also a possibility with the return of Vollmer.
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Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Jeff Goodman calls Mike and Rob to drop a ton of knowledge on the upcoming NBA Draft and some of the names available. Sorry fans - he doesn't see Kevin Durant or any big-named free agents coming to Boston and thinks they'll end up making the third pick this season. He also says that there is NO WAY he would trade next year's Brooklyn pick because the draft will be very deep. He discusses the chances of trading with Philly for Okafor, why he like Kris Dunn so much and much more.
Brad Stevens makes his first appearance on the Dale and Holley with Thornton show. We discuss the Atlanta series and what went wrong, and where the Celtics go from here.
Ian Thomsen of NBA.com joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss the next moves for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with the NBA Draft Lottery rapidly approaching. They discussed the crazy ending to Game 2 of Thunder vs Spurs and picked the player they would build their pretend new franchise around.
Mut recaps the Sox 10-3 win over the Rockies.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox left fielder Blake Swihart after he had two triples as part of a Red Sox 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies
Roger Clemens joined the broadcast on a night where the 1986 Red Sox were honored before the game at Fenway Park
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
The guys go to battle with a caller who claims to be a Worcester attorney that would like to defend the role judge Andrew Mandell had in letting Jorge Zambrano back on the streets shortly before he killed a police officer.
Gary Tanguay, Gerry Callahan, and Kirk Minihane discuss the intel from TurtleBoySports.com which describes awkward judicial relationships between an Uxbridge judge, his daughter Ashley Losapio, and Losapio's boyfriend Giancarlo Zambrano, twin brother of cop killer Jorge Zambrano
A report says that late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle exaggerated his accomplishments during the Iraq War. Does it affect hero status for one of Gerry's all-time favorite people?
The guys discuss the absolute thrashing the Cleveland Cavaliers handed the Toronto Raptors last night.
Ted Olson, joins the guys to talk about how he and Tom Brady plan to attack the latest court ruling.
Glenn, Lou and Christian start the show by talking about the Red Sox retiring Wade Boggs' number. They also touch on the brief filed by the Patriots yesterday.
We sit down with the manager of the Sox John Farrell for our weekly discussion about all things Red Sox.
We discuss the Patriots filing of an amicus brief to federal district court in support of the ongoing battle that has ensnared their quarterback.
We look at four instances where Roger Goodell flat out lies or twists himself into a pretzel when asked a question to which there is a definitive answer to... but he never answers them.
Ben and Russ preview the Champions League Final between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Who we want to win, who we think will win, and why. We also talk about our wishes for the USMNT.
The Dennis and Callahan malcontent is joined by former WEEI personality Pete Sheppard to talk about his past involvement with the station and his current gig in New Hampshire. You'll be glad to hear Pete hasn't changed one bit.
In the latest It Is What It Is podcast, Chris Price talks with former Patriots backup quarterback Jim Miller about Tom Brady and his mindset as he continues to battle Deflategate. Miller offers up his own thoughts on Brady’s play and what sets him apart from other signal-callers of his generation. Miller also breaks down New England’s offseason to this point on the calendar, and offers his thoughts on which team might be poised to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East.
Ken Laird and Paul Chartier are officially the new producers of the Dennis and Callahan Show as Lucy Burdge bails out of the race, perhaps due to money concerns.More from this show