Friday August 27, 2010 | 04:47 AM

The Red Sox keep hanging around in the playoff hunt. They have not threatened to close the gap (5.5 games) between the them and the leading Yankees and Rays, but they have not gone away either.

 Tonight, Boston can start closing in (or fading away), beginning a three-game series in St. Petersburg. The pitching match-ups, featured below, are pretty even:

 Jon Lester (13-8, 3.26) vs. David Price (15-5, 2.97)

 Thanks to Daisuke Matsuzaka's sore back, this becomes the match-up of the series.

 Lester vs. Rays: 1-1, 15 IP, 13 H, 9 R (8 ER), 8 BB, 14 K

 Price vs. Sox: 1-0, 7 2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K

 Clay Buchholz (15-5, 2.26) vs. Matt Garza (13-7, 3.62)

 Buchholz has been Boston's best pitcher, but Garza usually comes up with an extra effort to spoil the Sox.

 Buchholz vs. Rays: 1-1, 11 IP, 9 H, 5 R (1 ER), 5 BB, 15 K

 Garza vs. Sox: 2-2, 23 IP, 22 H, 13 R, 16 BB, 14 K

 John Lackey (12-7, 4.51) vs. James Shields (12-11, 4.71)

 Both have won 12 games but their results have been disappointing, what with Shields being the former ace and Lackey the big-money free agent.

 Lackey vs. Rays: 2-1, 16 2/3 IP, 25 H, 11 R, 7 BB, 7 K

 Shields vs. Sox: 1-2, 19 2/3 IP, 20 H, 11 R, 5 BB, 18 K



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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