Changes of scenery can be good. Often times I just drive, it doesn’t matter where. I put my foot to the floor and let the wind blow through my hair. After a 3-6 homestand, including another series loss to the Royals, a change of scenery would serve the Tampa Bay Rays well. First stop Boston, where they’ll start a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday.
The Rays have fallen a bit below .500 thanks to the loss to the Royals. They also have lost five of their last seven, including the two of three they against Toronto. It’s worth noting both the Royals and the Blue Jays are two of the most disappointing teams in the league so far this year.
It certainly doesn’t help that Tampa Bay dropped three of four against Boston in April, this despite posting a positive run differential over the span of the series.
Kevin Cash will lean on Alex Cobb (3-1, 3.04 ERA, 2.80 FIP), Blake Snell (0-3, 3.96 ERA, 5.03 FIP), and Matt Andriese (2-1, 3.12 ERA, 4.56 FIP) over the next three days. John Farrell will counter with Rick Porcello (2-4, 3.95 ERA, 3.97 FIP), Chris Sale (3-2, 1.92 ERA, 1.45 FIP), and Drew Pomeranz (3-2, 5.23 ERA, 4.70 FIP).
Cobb allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over eight innings on Sunday, although he came away with the loss. He is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA over his last two starts, and 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA in five career starts at Fenway Park — including his last start against the Red Sox, when he relinquished four runs on 11 hits in five innings.
Porcello is starting to look like the reigning Cy Young Award winner that he is. Over his last four starts, he has gone at least six innings in each and has a 27-to-5 K/BB in 26-2⁄3 innings. Interestingly enough, the start prior to this run was against Tampa Bay when he allowed eight runs, with four home runs mixed in, over just 4-1⁄3 innings. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-2), Peter Bourjos (2-7), Corey Dickerson (7-22, 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Brad Miller (7-23, 2 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI), Logan Morrison (10-24, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI), Colby Rasmus (3-9), Steven Souza Jr. (7-23, HR, RBI, BB)
Snell continued to struggle with fastball command on Monday against Kansas City, as he allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk, while fanning two in five innings. He now has pitched five innings or fewer in six consecutive starts. The southpaw allowed four runs in five innings against Boston in April, although only one of those runs was earned.
Sale is coming off his worst start of the year, allowing a season-high four runs to Minnesota, yet he still struck out 10 and earned the win. Sale struck out 12 Rays over seven innings on April 15, and has double-digit strikeouts in his last six starts — two away from tying the Major League record that he shares with Pedro Martinez. Key matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-6, RBI), Logan Morrison (2-6)
Andriese allowed two earned runs in 5-1/3 innings against against Kansas City on Tuesday, coming away with a no-decision. He, however, is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA in two career appearances at Fenway, and 1-1 with a 4.21 ERA in six career appearances against the Red Sox. Andriese’s strikeout rate is around average, his walk rate is in good shape, and he has juxtaposed the home runs he’s allowed this year by inducing a bunch of ground balls. This will be his first time facing the Red Sox in 2017.
Pomeranz is coming off a rough start, giving up five runs and two homers in the first inning against the Brewers. Pomeranz last faced Tampa Bay on April 16, and he had an uneven start, giving up five runs over 4-1/3 innings, but also striking out 10. Home runs have been a major issue for the lefty this season, and he’s now given up a total of seven over 31 innings, counterbalancing the 36 strikeouts he has collected. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (2-4, HR, RBI, BB), Brad Miller (7-15, 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBI), Colby Rasmus (1-4, RBI)
— Souza’s thumb is feeling better, and hopes to get back in lineup on Saturday or Sunday.
— With the forecast calling for heavy rain in the evening, Saturday’s game has been moved up to 1:05 PM.