The Tampa Bay Rays make a quick jaunt into Boston on Monday, where they’ll take on the Red Sox for the second time in a week.
Tampa Bay is coming off a 10-4 win against the Astros, on Sunday, after dropping the first two games of the set, while Boston went 1-2 in a weekend series against the reigning World Series champions. Too, the Rays won the final two games of a four-game series against the Red Sox last week, although Boston leads the season series with Tampa Bay 7-6, having gone 4-2 at Fenway Park.
The good guys enter the series with a 66-63 BaseRuns record, and a 63-66 Pythagorean Expectation — both of which are vastly better than their 55-74 regular season record.
Kevin Cash will call upon the services of Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.71 ERA), Jake Odorizzi (9-5, 3.53), and Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80 ERA) over the next three days. John Farrell will counter with Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.23 ERA), Drew Pomeranz (10-10, 2.95 ERA), and Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18 ERA).
Rays Series Starters
Andriese allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk, while fanning eight over six innings on Wednesday against the Red Sox. The righty had failed to make it through the sixth inning in his previous four starts, posting a 6.84 ERA/6.02 FIP over that span. However, Andriese appears to have reverted back into the pitcher he was in May and early June, when he started the season 6-0.
Odorizzi hurled seven innings of one run ball on Thursday, scattering five hits and three walks while striking out four Red Sox. Jake got the better end of a pitcher’s duel with Drew Pomeranz, allowing him to snare his sixth straight win. The right-hander also collected his seventh quality start in his last eight outings, a stretch in which he’s put up a 1.40 ERA with 34 strikeouts over 45 innings.
Smyly gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks over six innings on Friday, notching eight strikeouts along the way. The southpaw continued his recent stretch of strong pitching, posting at least six innings for the seventh consecutive start while giving up two earned runs or fewer for the sixth time over that span. Smyly’s eight punch outs was also his second-highest total in that category since July 1.
Red Sox Series Starters
Porcello allowed three runs on nine hits over 7-2/3 innings on Wednesday in an extra-inning loss against Tampa Bay. He struck out eight. The righty was efficient — he didn’t walk a batter and collected a pair of consecutive 1-2-3 innings — although Porcello’s shot at grabbing his 18th win was derailed by Evan Longoria, who hit a solo home run to tie the game in the eighth inning. Key matchups: Matt Duffy (3-7), Logan Forsythe (6-24, 3B, 2 BB), Kevin Kiermaier (6-24, 2B, RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (10-40, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Luke Maile (1-1, 2B, RBI), Brad Miller (4-15, 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (8-19, 2 2B, RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (6-21), Bobby Wilson (3-9, 2B)
Pomeranz allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings against Tampa Bay on Thursday, striking out a career-high 11 in the 2-1 loss. The lefty was out dueled by Jake Odorizzi and pegged with his first loss in five starts. Pomeranz induced 23 swinging strikes and lowered his Boston ERA to 4.06 — its best mark since being acquired from the Padres. Key matchups: Matt Duffy (4-12, 2B, BB), Evan Longoria (1-4, 2B, BB), Luke Maile (1-2), Brad Miller (3-8, HR, 2 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-3)
Wright, the knuckleballer (not the comedian), was rusty in the first inning of his first start back from the DL on Friday, giving up a five-spot to Kansas City. He, however, wasn’t scored on over his final five innings. Wright relies primarily on his 74 mph knuckleball that flutters and floats unpredictably toward home, while also mixing in an 83 mph sinker with little arm side run. He also rarely throws an 86 mph four-seam fastball, a slow 69 mph 12-6 curveball, and a 76 mph changeup with a lot of backspin. Key matchups: Brad Miller (1-4, HR, RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (1-2), Bobby Wilson (1-3)
— Evan Longoria has 15 homers in 72 games at Fenway Park.
— Tampa Bay optioned RHP Steve Geltz back to Triple-A Durham after he allowed one run and three hits in one inning against Houston on Sunday.
— The Rays are expected to activate RHP Alex Cobb, who has not pitched in the majors since 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. He likely will start against the Blue Jays at home next weekend.