José Siri hit one of two homers in the series finale against the Cubs on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After dropping two of three in Chicago, the Tampa Bay Rays continue their road trip in Boston, where they start a three-day, four-game, series on Friday. The Red Sox also dropped two of three in their last series, against the Reds.

At 40-18 on the season, the Rays enter play 22 games above .500, and four games up on the second-place Orioles in the AL East.

The Rays dropped three of four before rallying to win the series finale against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. Tampa Bay finished with only five hits in the contest, although Brandon Lowe and José Siri each hit a two-run homer in the win. Even though he served up an unearned run in the seventh inning, Colin Poche earned the win, while Jalen Beeks escaped a bases-loaded situation to earn his first save.

Meanwhile, Boston had dropped three consecutive games (and seven of their last nine) before salvaging the series finale against Cincinnati. The Red Sox enter the series 29-27 on the season and in the basement of the AL East.

While both teams put up positive wRC+ numbers (102 wRC+ vs 114 wRC+) over the last seven days, Boston has performed 12% better than Tampa Bay over that stretch. Be that as it may, it is a tale of luck, as the Rays had been bitten by the BABIP luck dragons and the Red Sox had been given a pass as it relates to batting average on balls in playe (a .297 BABIP vs .362 BABIP respectively). That was exemplified on the north side of Chicago, where Tampa Bay couldn’t make solid contact — at least until Wednesday — nor could any of their contact find open space. The offensive malaise will pass.

The Rays are 4-0 against the Red Sox thus far, and they went 3-6 in Boston last season.

Pitching Probables

Over the next four games, Kevin Cash will turn to Cooper Criswell () behind opener Trevor Kelley, Tyler Gasnow (0-0, 6.23 ERA, 3.29 FIP), Taj Bradley (3-2, 3.60 ERA, 2.76 FIP), and a pitcher to be named before Monday’s adjusted series finale. Alex Cora will counter with Garrett Whitlock (2-2, 5.14 ERA, 5.53 FIP), a pitcher to be named before the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Tanner Houck (3-4, 5.30 ERA, 4.14 FIP), and Brayan Bello (3-3, 3.89 ERA, 4.74 FIP).

Cooper Criswell allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out four over four innings against the Dodgers on Friday. Criswell struggled as a bulk reliever in his previous outing against Milwaukee, but he got another chance in that role versus the Dodgers and didn’t disappoint. He’s made four appearances this season across two big-league stints and holds a 6.46 ERA and a 5.37 FIP, with a 1.63 WHIP, and 2.83 K/BB.

Garrett Whitlock allowed one run on three hits while striking out four batters over five innings against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Whitlock made his first appearance in over a month after dealing with a right elbow injury and making two minor-league rehab starts. He tossed 92 pitches (58 strikes, 63% strike rate) over five frames. Whitlock’s pitch count was that high largely because Arizona fouled off 21 pitches against him, but he was in control after allowing a solo homer in the first inning, at one point retiring 12 straight batters. On the season, Whitlock maintains a 5.15 ERA and a 5.53 FIP, with a 1.19 WHIP, and a 5.00 K/BB across 21.0 innings. He is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in seven games (two career starts) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Yandy Díaz (4-8, HR, RBI), Wander Franco (3-10, 2 2B, RBI), Brandon Lowe (4-10, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Josh Lowe (1-3), Manuel Margot (1-4, BB), Isaac Paredes (1-2, HR, RBI)

Tyler Glasnow allowed three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out eight batters over 4.1 innings against the Dodgers on Saturday. The right-hander had mixed results — four of the five hits he allowed went for extra bases, and the Dodgers put up three runs on him — although Glasnow also racked up an impressive 17 swinging strikes and eight punchouts on 83 pitches (55 strikes, 66% strike rate, 20% SwStr%) in his season debut. Considering the quality of who he faced, this was a promising return for Glasnow. He is 2-1 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against Boston.J


Taj Bradley allowed an unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters over 5.2 innings. A fourth-inning Tampa Bay error helped Chicago notch the game’s only run, resulting in Bradley taking his second career loss despite another strong outing. The rookie right-hander tossed a season-high 5.2 frames to fall one out shy of his first quality start, and he punched out eight batters while walking only one. Bradley’s pitch count is being kept in check — the 90 pitches (65 strikes, 72% strike rate) he threw Monday marked a season high. Overall, he has looked every bit deserving of a big-league rotation spot, compiling a 3.60 ERA and a 2.76 FIP, with a 1.07 WHIP and 8.4 K/BB over 30 innings. Bradley allowed three earned runs on five hits and a walk across five frames in his previous start against Boston. He struck out eight.

Tanner Houck allowed four runs on six hits over four innings Sunday against the Diamondbacks, striking out four. All four runs against Houck came in the first two frames, including Corbin Carroll’s two-run first inning shot. The Diamondbacks were seeing the ball well, as nine of the 14 balls in play were hit hard, including five that tracked greater than 100 mph. Houck has taken a loss in four straight decisions, posting an unsightly 5.97 ERA during that six-start stretch. He now owns a 5.30 ERA and a 4.14 FIP after failing to complete five innings for the second time this season. Houck relies primarily on an 84 mph slider that sweeps across the zone and has exceptional depth and a whiffy 94 mph sinker that has heavy sinking action, while also mixing in a 92 mph cutter that has some natural sink, a 94 mph fourseam fastball that has heavy sinking action, and an 88 mph splitter that dives down out of the zone. He is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in three outings (one career start) against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Yandy Díaz (1-4), Wander Franco (3-6, 2 HR, 4 RBI), Harold Ramírez (1-2)


Brayan Bello allowed one run on five hits and two walks over four innings against the Reds on Tuesday. He struck out four. Despite the final score, both starting pitchers were stingy, although Bello exited early after running his workload up to 97 pitches (61 strikes, 63% strike rate). He has given up two earned runs or fewer in six straight starts, posting a 2.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB in 32 innings over that stretch. He relies primarily on a 96 mph sinker that has heavy sinking action and an obvious tail, an 88 mph changeup that has obvious arm-side fade and dives down out of the zone, and an 85 mph 12-6 slider, while also mixing in a whiffy 96 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action. He is 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA in two career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Yandy Díaz (3-4, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Wander Franco (1-3, RBI), Francisco Mejía (1-4, 2B)


— As if inclement weather — resulting in a postponement of the series opener on Friday — wasn’t enough, the Rays are now dealing with another pitching injury.

Josh Fleming felt soreness on the outside of his left elbow while he was playing catch Friday afternoon and is reportedly headed to the Injured List at some point in the next few days.

The team scrambled Friday to arrange an MRI exam to evaluate the extent of the hurler’s injury on Saturday which, then, will determine how much of an impact this will have on the rotation, and what moves need to be made.

The left-hander was scheduled to start the first of two games on Saturday, but that duty will now fall on Cooper Criswell, who is being called up from Triple-A to serve as the 27th man.

This is a fluid situation, and we will have more on it as the news becomes available.

— In better pitching news, Shawn Armstrong (neck) is expected to be activated from the Injured List sometime this weekend.

Armstrong has been out all season with an unspecified neck injury, but he looked ready on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham, holding a 2.00 ERA and a 3.82 FIP, with a 4.00 K/BB over nine innings of work. The 32-year-old is on the 60-day IL, so the Rays will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster in addition to the 26-man roster.

The Music That Influenced This Preview

Geld’s Relapse Records debut, Currency // Castration, is set to drop next Friday. I have been listening to these three rippers on repeat, and am eagerly anticipating the full release. Like Discharge? Like weirdo psychedelic overtones? Check out these songs (and download everything else while you’re at it).