BOSTON - The Tampa Bay Rays are on the verge of taking the lead in the American League East, and people are watching. Monday's 3-0 win against the first-place Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park was the highest-rated Rays telecast of the season and the night's highest-rated program in prime time in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market, according to the team. The game, televised on cable station Sun Sports, drew an 8.9 rating and 14.0 market share in the 8-11 p.m. time slot. Each rating point represents 1 percent of the total number of households with TVs, and the share is the percentage of TV sets in use at the time of measurement. The Rays won behind the first complete-game shutout of All-Star Matt Moore's career.
The victory moved the Rays to within a half-game of the Red Sox in the AL East. This is the closest the Rays have been to the division lead since they were a game out of first place at the start of play April 13. One month ago, the Rays were in last place, percentage points behind the fourth-place Blue Jays. But following a 21-4 run, that included six straight wins and victories in 18 of the past 20 games, the Rays are within a win tonight of moving into first place. Their 59-41 record is the second best in the American League and the third best in the majors. This four-game series continues tonight when Tampa Bay right-hander Roberto Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA) faces Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58). Lester's start was pushed back from Saturday to tonight because the Red Sox wanted to give him a little more rest coming out of the All-Star break. Lester was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his first nine starts of the year, but 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA since. Hernandez, whose 10 losses are tied for the third most in the American League, has pitched a quality start (at least six innings with three earned runs or less) in each of his previous four appearances.