The Rays keep winning, and if they can keep it up for the next three days, they won't have to do any scoreboard-watching to see if they have gained any ground on the first-place Red Sox.
Tampa Bay beat Boston, 3-0, on Monday to pull within a half-game of its American League East rival and will have a chance to move into first place for the first time since April 6 when the two teams square off again on Tuesday.
Although the Rays' run has been somewhat quiet as far as national attention is concerned, the Red Sox have taken notice.
"They're hot right now," outfielder Shane Victorino said. "[But] we're still the horse at the top leading the race. We control our own destiny."
The Rays will hand the ball to veteran Roberto Hernandez, whom manager Joe Maddon has called the team's "most contact-oriented" starter.
The numbers back Maddon's claim, as Hernandez has given up an average of 9.7 hits per nine innings, the worst mark among any hurler on Tampa Bay's staff. That could spell trouble for the Rays, as the Red Sox put up more runs per game than any team in Major League Baseball.
Red Sox fans will get to see if some time off benefited pitcher Jon Lester. After losing two consecutive starts to end the season's first half, Lester was pulled from his start against the Yankees on Sunday and given an additional two days of rest after the All-Star break.
"I'm not pitching the way I feel like I should or want to be," Lester said. "At the same time, I think there are a lot of positives within some of those games that I try to take. I just have to keep trying to build off of those."
Rays: Myers remains on the shelf
Right fielder Wil Myers missed his second consecutive game on Monday with a sore left wrist.
Maddon said that although Myers was available to appear off the bench, he wanted to give the wrist, which Myers hurt while sleeping and said flared up during a slide before the All-Star break, another day to heal.
Myers tweeted on Sunday that the wrist "feels fine," and reaffirmed that stance before Monday's game.
"Feels about 100 percent," Myers said. "I think it was just one of those things where they wanted to give me an extra day just to be sure."
The Rays may want Myers back sooner rather than later, as they are 22-8 since he was promoted from Triple-A Durham on June 18. Since being called up, Myers leads Major League rookies in RBIs, with 18.
Red Sox: Saltalamacchia catches his breath
Extra-inning games always seem to affect the way a manager sets his lineup, especially when they last nearly five hours, as Boston's 8-7, series-clinching win over New York did on Sunday.
Primary catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was given the night off on Monday after playing all 11 innings of that marathon.
Saltalamacchia has started 69 of the team's 101 games this season, putting him on pace to start just over 110 by season's end. That would be a career high.
"He's done a very good job of handling our staff," manager John Farrell said. "He's durable. He wants to play as much as possible. [There have been] maybe a few more games played to date [than we expected]."
With secondary catcher David Ross on the disabled list with a concussion, Ryan Lavarnway got the call on Monday.
Lavarnway has seen more time with Triple-A Pawtucket than he has with the Red Sox this season, but he has been with the big league club since June 18 and caught his 10th game for the Sox on Monday. He went 0-for-3.
• Monday's victory marked the first time in team history the Rays have posted 21 wins over a 25-game span.
• Lester is 11-9 with a 4.36 ERA in 25 career starts against the Rays.