Back in sole possession of first place, the Tampa Bay Rays hope to build on their American League East division lead as they attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox on Sunday night.
Tampa Bay ended Boston's 34-day reign atop the division with a 9-5 victory on Saturday to clinch a series victory. The Rays moved a half game ahead of the Red Sox after also earning a 7-3 win in the series opener Friday.
The Rays have won three straight games and 10 of 15 since the All-Star break.
"I think this is just the start of something that's going to keep on going," Rays rookie Wander Franco said through a translator on Bally Sports Sun after the game. "It feels good, and we're always going to be (in the mix)."
Boston has dropped four of its past five and is just 8-7 following the break. Starting pitching has been at the root of the Red Sox's struggles of late, as their starters posted a 7-8 record with a 4.74 ERA in the month of July.
That trend continued on Saturday as Red Sox staff ace Nathan Eovaldi surrendered two homers and gave up six runs (five earned). Boston's starters allowed 20 home runs over 25 games in July.
"It's very frustrating to me, especially how big (that) game was for us," Eovaldi said. "The vibe in the clubhouse is good. I feel like that game was on me. I definitely could have done better."
Boston will send right-hander Nick Pivetta (8-4, 4.51 ERA) to the mound for the finale while Tampa Bay counters with left-hander Shane McClanahan (4-4, 3.93).
Pivetta has not allowed a run over 11 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay in two career starts -- both of which came this season.
The 28-year-old was nearly flawless against the Rays on June 24, tossing 6 2/3 no-hit innings with two walks and eight strikeouts in an eventual 1-0 loss at Tampa Bay. He was taken out in the seventh after throwing 100 pitches.
Pivetta also faced the Rays on April 5, tossing five scoreless innings while allowing two hits, walking four and striking out four in his season debut to help lead Boston to an 11-2 home victory.
McClanahan is making his first career start against the Red Sox. He allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past eight starts, going 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA and 46 strikeouts during that span.
The 24-year-old rookie has faced an AL East opponent in four consecutive starts, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.54 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings.
In his most recent start on July 27, McClanahan gave up three runs on a season-high nine hits while walking three and punching out six in a 4-3 home loss against the New York Yankees.
--Field Level Media