The Tampa Bay Rays got off to a hot start this season, however, they’re coming off a sweep at the hands of the Yankees, with the latest game being a late-inning comeback by New York. They will try to right the ship against the Boston Red Sox, in a four-game series starting Friday.
…Welcome to Boston, where the digs are tin-can like and flu infested. A severe flu bug has ravaged Boston’s roster over the past week, and the Rays are taking some precautions as they head into Fenway Park.
The team purchased two Synexis Biodefense Systems high-tech air filtration units to be placed in the visiting clubhouse, providing sustainable, wide-area reduction of microbial levels in occupied spaces.
The issue is thought to be more prevalent in the home clubhouse, however, the Rays are concerned about the transfer of germs from stadium workers who travel back and forth between the two rooms.
The team has also reminded players and staff to wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with Red Sox staff — preventative steps they should be taking regardless of the circumstances. Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Robbie Ross Jr. are among those that have been sidelined. Jackie Bradley Jr. was instead bit by the injury bug after suffering a knee sprain caused by a misstep while running the bases.
In similar fashion, the speedy Mallex Smith left Thursday’s game with right hamstring tightness, incurred as he tried to get to third base after a Jesus Sucre RBI single on Thursday.
I don’t think this will keep me sidelined too long, but I’ve just got ot see how it feels (today), Smith said. That’ll tell me a lot more.
Kevin Cash will throw Chris Archer (1-0, 2.45 ERA, 2.00 FIP), Jake Odorizzi (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 5.87 FIP), Alex Cobb (1-1, 3.46 ERA, 4.72 FIP), and Blake Snell (0-1, 3.18 ERA, 5.16 FIP) over the next four days. John Farrell will counter with Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.38 ERA, 2.38 FIP), Chris Sale (0-1, 1.23 ERA, 1.93 FIP), Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 1.50 ERA, 1.45 FIP), and Steven Wright (0-1, 13.50 ERA, 11.70 FIP).
Archer entered the season looking to bounce back from a subpar 2016. He’s done just that over his first two starts, pitching into the eighth inning in both of his starts while allowing four runs total. He hasn’t fanned a ton of batters, posting just a 7.98 K/9, but the strikeouts will come.
Porcello has been good so far, although that’s compared to the great pitcher he was last year through his first two starts. His control is still there and he’s been able to rack up the strikeouts through his first two games — pitching to a 9.49 K/9. In his last start, Porcello allowed three runs on 11 hits and a walk over six innings against the Tigers. Key matchups: Peter Borjous (2-7), Corey Dickerson (7-19, 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Brad Miller (5-20, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB), Logan Morrison (8-22, 2 2B, 1 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (6-21)
Odorizzi has shown both flashes and lapses of command this season, as he’s allowed three homers through his first two starts. When he’s on, he has the ability to shut down any lineup in the league, however, he will have to curtail his home run allowing ways. Odorizzi, was hit in the leg by a line drive on Sunday, although he isn’t concerned about it having any residual impact on his start against Boston.
It feels like a bruise, he said. I don’t think it’ll be a big issue.
Sale is a beast of consistency with really great stuff. The lefty was excellent in his last start, throwing 7-2/3 innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and one walk while fanning 10. He has looked terrific in his first two starts, and now carries a 1.23 ERA and a 17/2 K/BB over 14-2/3 innings. He, however, has received just one run of support thus far. Key matchups: Peter Borjous (2-7, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-4, BB), Logan Morrison (1-3), Rickie Weeks Jr. (1-3)
Cobb has been good over his first two starts of the season. His ERA is in good order (even though his FIP isn’t), and he has limited walks, although he hasn’t rung up a ton of batters and and he has allowed homers at a high rate.
Pomeranz’ first start was encouraging, spinning six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. The left-hander admitted to being a bit sore after the outing, although he doesn’t think it’s anything to be concerned about (as it relates to his previous forearm issues). He has been a two pitch pitcher thus far, relying upon a whiffy four seam fastball, and a hard curveball with sharp downward bite. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-2, BB), Brad Miller (6-13, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-5, BB)
Snell still has work to do on his fastball command, but that’s a well worn diatribe by now. His 3.18 ERA looks great, yet his 6.35 BB/9 does not. It’s undoubtable that the Red Sox’s game plan will be to be patient against Snell. If — for some reason — they aren’t, or if he can lock it in, Snell can dominate Boston on Patriot’s Day.
Wright, the knuckle baller, lasted just 1-1⁄3 innings in his last start, including four home runs while recording only four outs. The Rays have faced Wright just once, although they tagged him for four runs (all earned) on seven hits, including a pair of homers, over four innings last season. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (2-3), Brad Miller (2-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB), Logan Morrison (2-4, HR, RBI)