With the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming, two of the best pitchers in the American League square off on Friday night with their disappointing teams trying to fight their way into the playoff picture.
David Price, a potential AL Cy Young Award candidate, has been surrounded by trade rumors since the Rays got off to an underwhelming start and plummeted to 18 games below .500 on June 10. Since then, Tampa Bay has pulled within 4 1/2 games of an AL Wild Card spot and will face the last-place Red Sox at Tropicana Field on Friday.
"We need to win. Period," Price said. "We need to continue to play the baseball that we have."
Price (10-7) leads the Majors with 173 strikeouts, has pitched more innings than anyone else in the big leagues and has posted a 3.06 ERA.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester has endured similar uncertainty this season as far as his future with the Red Sox organization. Trade rumors and all, though, the southpaw has still been as good as any pitcher in the AL.
Lester (10-7) is 4-0 with a 0.85 ERA in his last seven starts, and he hasn't allowed an earned run in three of his last four outings. His season ERA is 2.50 heading into Friday night's matchup.
"I just try to make sure I go out and pitch well for these guys in here," Lester said. "If these guys are happy with the way I'm throwing and how I'm going about my business, that's all I care about. Like I've said in the past, that other stuff will take care of itself."
Late on Wednesday, principal owner John Henry announced that the Red Sox would table contract negotiations with Lester until the offseason.
"I think Jon has handled this exceptionally well throughout the course of this entire season, so I don't see it changing anything," manager John Farrell said.
Rays: Tampa Bay fills out rotation with Hellickson callup
After Price starts Tampa Bay's series opener against the Sox on Friday, the Rays will recall Jeremy Hellickson from Double-A Montgomery to start on Saturday.
Hellickson began the season on the disabled list due to right elbow surgery and made his season debut on July 9. Four days later, the Rays sent him back to Montgomery to make additional starts during the All-Star break.
"Everything seemed to be good. We wanted to keep him rolling," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "The awkward schedule permitted us to do it this way, also, coming out of the break. He's ready to roll."
Hellickson allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings during his only Major League start this inning and allowed three earned runs in 11 innings during his two starts after being optioned back to the Biscuits.
Chris Archer will start in the series finale on Sunday. He last pitched on Sunday against the Twins.
Red Sox: Holt's versatility one of a kind in Boston
Brock Holt became the first player in Red Sox history to start at every position outside of pitcher and catcher on Thursday.
After getting the day off on Wednesday, Holt was back in the leadoff spot and started at second base in the 8-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The 26-year-old's start at second was more about giving Dustin Pedroia the day off, manager John Farrell said, but there's no denying Holt's versatility gives the Red Sox a lot of flexibility. Still, Farrell said he has no plans to start Holt behind the plate any time soon.
"He's done a great job, there's no doubt," Farrell said. "We like to think that because of injuries, it's opened up and created some opportunities for him. If we had our choice, we would've liked to avoid all that. ... But in light of what's taken place this year, it's one of the better stories. [He's] a guy we can plan around in a number of ways as we go forward."
Before getting a breather Wednesday, Holt had played all 533 innings in the field since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 17.
• The Rays and the Red Sox have occupied the bottom two spots in the AL East since May 16.
• Injured Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks homered in his rehab game witih Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. Middlebrooks is 8-for-19 at the plate in his past five games with the PawSox.
• With his three RBIs on Wednesday, David Ortiz passed the 1,500-RBI milestone in his 2,067th Major League contest.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.