Boston lefty Jon Lester squares off against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner on Saturday when the Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays in the second try at a start to a weekend series at Fenway Park.
The teams were scheduled to begin a three-game series on Friday night, but the start was delayed to Saturday when the game was postponed by inclement weather. It will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on June 18.
Lester, a 29-year-old from Washington, is a four-time double-digit winner for the Red Sox, including a career-best 19 victories in 2010. He returned to win 15 more games in 2011 before slumping to just nine wins in 23 decisions across 33 starts last season.
He's 10-8 in 22 career meetings with the Rays while posting a 4.30 earned run average across 132 innings and allowing a .236 batting average. Lester was 0-2 in two games against them last season, dropping decisions in May 25 and Sept. 26 while surrendering a combined 10 runs and 10 hits in 10 innings.
His start to 2013 has been much more successful, yielding wins over the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays in a pair of road outings.
Lester pitched five innings of two-run ball while defeating New York, 8-2, on April 1, then gave up five hits in seven scoreless innings of a 13-0 win at Toronto on April 7.
The .213 average he's allowed to opposing batters is 60 points lower than the .273 clip at which he was hit last season.
He'll be opposed by the AL's top 2012 pitcher, David Price, who's struggled in a pair of 2013 outings.
Price, the top overall pick of the 2007 draft, was 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 211 innings last season while striking out 205 batters and allowing a .226 average against him.
He was touched for seven hits and two runs in six innings of a no-decision against Baltimore in his 2013 debut against Baltimore on April 2 - a game the Rays lost, 7-4 - then lasted just five innings and allowed 10 hits and eight runs while losing, 13-0, to Cleveland on April 7.
The game at Boston will be his first road start of the season. He was 13-3 in 18 starts away from home in 2012 and is 33-15 on the road in his career, compared to a 28-17 mark at home.
Price is 8-4 with a 3.08 in 15 career starts against the Red Sox.
The teams split an 18-game series in 2012, a year after the Rays won 12 of 18 games. The Red Sox haven't won the season series since 2007.