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BOSTON -- As Hurricane Irma bears down on their home state of Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to focus on playing baseball in Boston.
It won't be easy.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said as much Friday, when he admitted to paying more attention to The Weather Channel than any advanced scouting information about the team's weekend series against the Boston Red Sox.
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Cash knows there is a chance his players' minds will be elsewhere when the Rays faced the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series Sunday at Fenway Park.
"It's going to be very eerie on Sunday when (the hurricane hits as) we're in the middle of playing a ballgame," Cash said. "I'm not sure how people will deal with it. We'll find a way to deal with it, but I think a lot of our thoughts will be back at home with our community."
Tampa Bay (70-73) fell 9-0 in the second game of the series Saturday after a 9-3 loss in the opener. The Rays remained 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot.
Boston (81-61) maintained its 4 1/2-game lead atop the AL East over the second-place Yankees after New York's 3-1 victory against the Texas Rangers.
The Rays sends Boston native Alex Cobb (10-9, 3.64 ERA) up against reigning American League Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello (9-16, 4.67) for the finale.
The right-handed Cobb has fared well pitching in his hometown, going 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in six career starts at Fenway Park. Cobb is 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA lifetime against Boston.
Cobb has faced Boston three times already this season, posting a 2-0 mark with a 3.32 ERA. He held the Red Sox to two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in his most recent start against them July 8.
Mitch Moreland is 4-for-17 with one home run and three RBIs versus Cobb. Mookie Betts (4-for-15), Dustin Pedroia (5-for-27) and Sandy Leon (1-for-5) each have two RBIs against him.
Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for Porcello this season, allowing a career-high 35 home runs while already exceeding his previous personal worst of 15 losses.
Three of Porcello's losses have come against the Rays this season (1-3, 5.18 ERA), which is tied for his most defeats against a single opponent.
He was a winner in his most recent outing against Tampa Bay on Aug. 9, allowing two runs and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over six innings in an 8-2 victory.
Porcello even recorded an immaculate inning in the game, striking out three Rays batters on nine pitches in the fifth.
"It was pretty cool. It's hard to do, so it's a nice little moment," Porcello said after the game.
Porcello is 11-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 21 career starts against Tampa Bay.
Brad Miller is 10-for-32 with five home runs and nine RBIs lifetime opposite Porcello. Evan Longoria has two homers and seven RBIs against him.