05/24/10 7:13 PM ET
Cameron returns for Red Sox-Rays duel
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
When the titans of the American League East square off again with aces Jon Lester and James Shields on the hill, the storyline could be much different than Monday's lopsided result. Runs should be at a premium, but the Red Sox offense will get a boost with the addition of Mike Cameron, who will be activated from the disabled list before the game.
Cameron, who went on the DL with a lower abdominal strain on April 19, will start in center field tonight. Some reports have indicated that Jacoby Ellsbury will take over as the regular in center ... while that may be the case eventually, it's not so for this game. No matter where they play in the field, however, the pair's bats will undoubtedly provide a boon to the offense.
"I hope that helps us," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Regardless of who's available though, I think we feel like we have a responsibility to go out and play good baseball. That's never an excuse not to play good baseball. We're thrilled to have him back. In the meantime, [Jeremy] Hermida's done a great job."
Lester could use some offensive support to work with as he'll be looking to keep the Rays' offense under wraps for the second straight day at the hands of Boston pitching. The left-hander has been dominant in his last several starts, and his most recent outing was no exception. Lester pitched a complete-game gem against the Twins, allowing just one run to score while striking out nine.
"[He was] pretty good," said Francona. "He was actually really good. ... You know, 10, 11, 12 [pitches an inning] and pounding the strike zone, repeating everything to their two dangerous lefties, [Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer]."
The win came in Lester's 100th career start, and left him with a 46-18 record, good for a .719 winning percentage which tops all active pitchers. Lester, however, wouldn't take full credit for his achievement.
"That's great, but that's just a testament to the teams that I've been on," Lester said. "We've had a lot of great players that have come through here, and it's easy to pitch when guys go out and score runs. It takes pressure off you of having to make each pitch perfect. And the same thing goes for our defense. We've got a lot of great guys that can run some balls down and save outs. So, it's a cool thing, and hopefully, I can continue to do it."
Lester may not have the same run support he's been enjoying, as his offense will have to deal with another of the league's toughest hurlers in Shields.
Shields has been lights-out against the Red Sox at the Trop recently. He has won all three home starts against the Red Sox since the start of the 2008 season, going 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA, including a two-hit shutout on April 27, 2008.
The fact that he's facing the Red Sox only adds to the pressure on the right-hander, especially after Monday night, but he's not letting any of that distract him.
"Whether we lose or win, I still think we're good," Shields said. "But we definitely want to try to win the series. There's no doubt about it. We want to try to at least gain a game on them ..."
The hurler has become something of a strikeout machine this season, which is somewhat uncharacteristic. Shields, who is tied for fourth in the Majors with 66 strikeouts, insists that is not his focus.
"I'm not really trying to strike anyone out," Shields said. "I'm trying to go deep into the game. If you're gonna strike everyone out, you're not going to go too deep into the game, I think. Strikeouts are coming, I'm going deep, I'm minimizing my pitches and when the time comes that I want to punch them out, I'm able to do that."
Red Sox: Victor banged up
After taking a foul ball off his foot in the second inning of Monday's game, Victor Martinez tried to tough it out but exited the game in the top of the third. Martinez had been hot of late with four straight multi-hit games entering Monday's. X-rays came back negative, and Martinez was diagnosed with a left big toe contusion.
Rays: Zobrist heating up
Despite a 1-for-4 showing on Monday night, Ben Zobrist has been heating up for the Rays of late. He's hitting .380 (30-for-79) in the month of May. He's now gotten on base in all but three games this month. Now that he's broken out, his manager Joe Maddon, thinks he should be fine. Maddon believed that in putting too much pressure on himself, Zobrist was swinging at pitches out of the zone, something uncharacteristic for him. "I thought he was pressing. I thought he was getting pitched at differently as well," Maddon said. "He had a really good last year that garnered some MVP votes, made the All-Star team. So they've been coming after him differently. I think he's finally made the adjustments. He's not expanding his strike zone."
With his solo home run on Monday night, David Ortiz has now gone deep five times in his last nine games. He leads the American league with eight homers in the month of May. ... Dustin Pedroia broke out of his recent funk with three hits on Monday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.