After losing the series against the New York Yankees, but salvaging in the series finale, the Tampa Bay Rays are set to begin their final home series of the season Friday against the Boston Red Sox. Sentimentality aside, this will be David Ortiz’s last trip into Tropicana Field and I honestly couldn’t be happier! Seriously…ding-dong the witch is dead; so on and so forth!
The Red Sox have won eight straight games against AL East opponents for the first time in 26 years, including a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles — pushing their lead to 5-½ games in the East, and reducing their magic number to five to clinch the division in doing so.
The Rays hurt New York’s playoff hopes with a 2-0 win on Thursday — their eighth shutout of the 2016 campaign. And though Evan Longoria’s seven-game hitting streak came to pass, he is just three hits shy of equaling his career high in hits (169, 2010), and five RBI from reaching 100 for the first time since 2010.
Kevin Cash will lean on Chris Archer (8-18, 4.05 ERA), Matt Andriese (8-7, 4.41 ERA), and Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.73 ERA) over the next three days. John Farrell will counter with Drew Pomeranz (10-12, 3.40 ERA), Rick Porcello (21-4, 3.08 ERA), and Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.84 ERA).
Rays Series Starters
Archer gave up three earned runs on seven hits (including a pair of homers) and a walk over 6-1/3 innings on Friday, striking out four. Despite hurling a quality start — his fourth in a row — the righty once again walked away sans a win. After a disappointing first half, Archer has built some momentum heading into the offseason with a solid 3.20 ERA/.208 OBA and 91 strikeouts over the second half of the season (78-2/3 innings).
Andriese allowed two runs on six hats and no walks, while fanning three over 5-1/3 innings in a win against Baltimore. The righty moved back above .500 with the victory Saturday. Two sacrifice flies in the first three innings put the Rays behind by a pair, however, Tampa Bay’s bats responded in the fourth and sixth innings, taking the lead for good. Since relinquishing seven runs in back-to-back starts, Andriese has allowed just three runs over his last 10-1/3 frames.
Odorizzi gave up just an earned run on five hits over six innings while fanning three on Sunday. The righty shut down the Orioles lineup on 105 pitches (71 strikes). His only mistake ended up as a 407-foot solo shot by Manny Machado, and Jake has now posted four straight starts where he has given up at least one long-ball. Still, the outing represented the sixth quality start in his last seven turns.
Red Sox Series Starters
Pomeranz has shown signs of fatigue in his last two turns, allowing nine runs over 5-2/3 innings. The lefty will attempt a rebound at Tropicana Field on Friday, where he is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts. In his last start against Tampa Bay, Pomeranz allowed three runs on five his over 6-2/3 innings in a 3-4 loss on August 30th. Key matchups: Mikie Mahtook (1-3, 2B, RBI), Luke Maile (2-5, HR, 2 RBI), Brad Miller (5-11, HR, 3 RBI)
Porcello allowed just two runs on four hits, while striking out seven in a complete game against the Orioles on Monday. The righty stymied the Orioles, earning his 21st win of the season on just 89 pitches (65 strikes). Porcello has been really good over the second half of the season, extending his quality-start streak to 11 games with his last outing. Porcello maintains a 2.23 ERA and a 13.2 K/BB over that span. He allowed back-to-back three run outings against the Rays on August 24th and 29th (respectively), although Tampa Bay won the former meeting. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (8-27, 3B, RBI, BB), Luke Maile (1-1, 2B, RBI), Bobby Wilson (4-11, 2B, RBI)
Rodriguez hurled 6-1/3 innings of two-run ball on Tuesday, striking out seven and allowing just four hits and a walk. The southpaw continued his success in Baltimore, taking a no-no into the fifth inning after throwing four no-hit innings in his last start in Charm City. Rodriguez rebounded nicely from a 2-1/3 inning start against the Yankees last Wednesday. The Rays hammered the lefty to the tune of nine runs on 11 hits over 2-2/3 innings on June 27th. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (3-7, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Nick Franklin (2-2, 2B, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (4-7, 2B, RBI), Mikie Mahtook (3-6, 2B, RBI)
— Corey Dickerson is 21-58 with six doubles, five homers and 11 RBI in the last 15 games.
— Kevin Kiermaier snapped a 1-14 skid with three hits on Thursday, although his streak of 18 straight stolen bases was also snapped.
— The Rays have dropped nine of 16 against Boston this season.
— Hanley Ramirez has 12 homers and 31 RBI since August 30th (a span of 21 games).
— Asshole slugger David Ortiz moved within one of Lou Gehrig (1,190) for 10th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time list for extra-base hits.
— Mookie Betts is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak.