After beating the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday — and winning the series two games out of three — the Tampa Bay Rays will cap their three-city, nine-game road trip through the AL East in Boston, with a three-game series starting Friday. The Rays have won three consecutive series, going 6-4 in their last 10 games, while the Red Sox are coming off a 7-4 loss against the Phillies, snapping a five-game win streak.
Even though the Rays scored just 10 runs in the last three contests, they limited the powerful Yankees to six runs total. And aside from a couple of errant pitches in the series opener, Tampa Bay’s pitching staff did a great job with shutting down that powerful team in the Bronx — limiting them to just two home runs. The Yankees, however, have not been nearly as consistent as the Red Sox, who have gone 17-6 since the All-Star Break. Whatever the case, the same “limit the long ball” approach applies.
Boston hasn’t lost two consecutive games since July 24-26 and has lost only four series this season … ironically one of those came against the Rays. It will not be easy for the Rays to win multiple games and/or the series this weekend against a team that is in the midst of a historic season. Yet that is what they are faced with. No whammies can be afforded, and no pitching mistakes can be made. Buckle up, this could be a bumpy ride.
Kevin Cash has committed to opening the series with Ryne Stanek (0-2, 2.51 ERA), who is likely to be followed by Yonny Chirinos (0-3, 3.50 ERA). Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 3.97 ERA) will get the start Saturday, while Sunday’s starter is TBA. Alex Cora will counter with Brian Johnson (3-1, 3.21 ERA), David Price (12-6, 3.75), and Chris Sale (12-4, 1.97 ERA).
Ryne Stanek owns a 3.00 ERA through five appearances (six innings) this month, three of which have been opening stints. While he doesn’t pitch deep enough into games to factor into the decision, Stanek owns a useful 2.45 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 6.2 K/BB across 47-2/3 innings this season. He last pitched Thursday, a 2/3 inning stint against the Yankees, allowing one run on two hits.
Yonny Chirinos threw five innings and earned the win on August 9, allowing just one run on three hits (including a homer) while fanning four in the 5-4 win over Baltimore. Chirinos came in to start the third inning, relieving Rays opener Hunter Wood. The only real damage against him was a Renato Nunez solo home run. Chirinos now owns a 3.50 ERA/3.65 FIP, and a solid 8.35 K/9. He has gone 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against Boston this season.
Brian Johnson gave up five earned runs in his previous start, but he won his past two decisions and holds a 3.25 ERA over the team’s last 60 games. Johnson has given up five runs on 11 hits over 4-1/3 innings against Tampa Bay this season (both relief appearances) and is 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three career appearances against the Rays. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (1-4), Matt Duffy (1-3), Mallex Smith (1-1), Jesus Sucre (1-1, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1, 3B, RBI)
Tyler Glasnow allowed one run on two hits while striking out six over five innings on Sunday. Glasnow cruised through the first five frames, although he allowed a run in the sixth inning and exited the game shortly thereafter with the score tied at one. He’s off to a great start with Tampa Bay: he’s surrendered and punched out 20 over 12 innings of work and owns a 3.97 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with 92 strikeouts through 68 innings this season. Expect Glasnow’s pitch ceiling to increase on Saturday.
David Price blanked the Orioles over six innings on Saturday. He allowed five hits and struck out a season-high 10. It was a dominant performance for the former Ray, who only allowed just two runners to get into scoring position. Price has fired off five consecutive quality starts, posting a 1.64 ERA over that stretch while performing to a 9.0 K/9. The strong run has allowed his ERA drop to 3.75, while his overall K/9 sits at 8.98. Price has been good against his former team this season, going 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts, although he is 4-4 with a 3.32 ERA in career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (6-21, 3 2B, RBI)
I will update this piece when a starter is announced for Sunday’s game.
Chris Sale was impressive in his return to the mound following a brief DL stint, allowing one hit and fanning 12 over five scoreless innings to pick up the win on Sunday against Baltimore. The southpaw extended his scoreless streak to 28 frames. It may appear odd that he was pulled after five innings and 68 pitches, especially after Boston’s bullpen was needed for 15-2/3 innings over the last two days, but manager Alex Cora told reporters in his post-game remarks that Sale was on a 75-pitch ceiling, much like Blake Snell. Expect his pitch ceiling to increase on Sunday. Note above: Sale worked to a -1.65 FIP in his last start; I’ve never seen a negative FIP before. Sale has been especially tough on the Rays this season, going 1-0 with a 0.65 ERA in two starts. in Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (5-17, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
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