Are the Red Sox ready to make a move in the AL East? The Rays stand in their way

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BOSTON — The first time the Red Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays this season proved to be the launching point from which Boston pulled out of its early-season slump.

Including that three-game, mid-April sweep in St. Pete, the Red Sox — who started 6-13 — have since gone 27-16.

Still, Tampa Bay came to Boston a week later and returned the favor, sweeping the Red Sox in a rain-shortened two-game set.

Will this weekend bring another defining series? Before the Red Sox and Rays play four games in three days at Fenway Park, here’s where the two teams stand.

1. The Red Sox have work to do

In five games against the Rays, no Red Sox starting pitcher has allowed more than three earned runs. Even in their two losses, Boston’s starters were solid: David Price allowed two runs in his six innings, a strong effort in which the offense struggled to a 2-1 defeat; and Chris Sale survived a shaky first two frames to go seven innings in a 5-2 Rays victory.

2 Related

Since the up-and-down first month of the season, Red Sox starters have bounced back. Boston’s pitching staff, as a whole,

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