Red Sox Have Given Rays Fits All Year
The Tampa Bay Rays have winning head-to-head record against three teams currently holding a playoff spot in the American League. They are 8-7 against the New York Yankees (8-7), 4-3 against the Houston Astros (4-3), and 3-1 against the Oakland Athletics (3-1). They have yet to play the Cleveland Indians.
The Boston Red Sox are the one American League playoff team that the the Rays have been unable to solve posting just a 4-9 mark against them. The record is even more frustrating since seen of the games have been decided by 1-run, with Boston winning six of them. Tampa Bay has six more opportunities to flip the script against Boston, including a three game series kicking off in Fenway Park tonight. The season series concludes in St. Petersburg with three next weekend at Tropicana Field.
Despite the many frustrating losses, the greatest moment of the 2018 season may have came on Opening Day when Denard Span delivered a 2-out triple in the eighth inning to turn a 4-2 deficit to a 5-4 Rays lead. The Rays had entered the inning trailing 4-0 and went on to score six times in the eighth to win 6-4.
The high of the Opening Day win for the Rays was quickly extinguished over the next several games as Boston took the next three games all by 1-run margin. The 1-run games were just a harbinger of things to come for the 2018 Rays. David Price and the pen came back the next day to shutout the Rays 1-0.
The following game the Red Sox pen allowed a solo homer to Carlos Gomez in the eighth but held on for a 3-2 win. Boston won the road series on Sunday scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth to defeat Tampa Bay 2-1.
After the disheartening finish to their opening four games series against Boston, the Rays headed out on their first road tip of the season.
They were the Yankees opponent in their home opener and lost 11-4. Their losing streak reached six the next day falling to the Yankees 7-2.
The Rays headed to Boston on a 5-game losing streak and were the opponent for the Red Sox home opener.
It took 12 innings but the Red Sox received a walk-off single by Hanley Ramirez to win 3-2 and send the Rays to their sixth straight loss.
After a rare Friday off game the Red Sox handed Jake Faria the worst beating of his big league career forcing him to throw 73 pitches in recording just five outs and allowing 8 ER. Boston had a comfortable 10-3 victory.
A Stinker Of A Game:
The Rays Opening Day victory may go down as the most memorable moment of the 2018 season. The most disheartening moment for the season may have come on Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
The Rays had lost seven in a row and the the talk of the 100 loss season and anger over the strategy of tanking was loud. Tampa Bay needed a win and it looked as if they would get that much needed W as they held a 7-2 lead heading into the 8th inning. In the home half of the eighth the Red Sox mounted a 2-out rally scoring six times erasing the deficit en route to a 8-7 win.
The Rays left Boston on a 8-game losing streak. Ouch.
Rays Return To Fenway In Better Shape:
Tampa Bay returned to Fenway two weeks later and were on a six game win streak. The 100 loss season and tanking talk had subsided and at 10-13 the Rays were targeting a return to .500.
In the first game of their weekend series Blake Snell worked into the eighth inning allowing just two earned runs as the Rays won their seventh in a row by a final score of 4-3.
The next afternoon the Rays scored 6 runs (5 earned) on David Price in 5.2-innings. Boston kept fighting and the Rays held a slim 6-5 lead after six, but scored 1 in the seventh, 1 in the eighth, and 4 in the ninth to win 12-6.
Tampa Bay had won eight in a row and at 12-13 was just 1-game away from evening their record on the season.
Getting back to .500 would have to wait for another day as Boston ended the Rays win streak defeating them 4-3 .
Boston returned to Tropicana Field on May 22nd with Tampa Bay just a game under .500 at 22-23.
Boston won the open game behind Chris Sale’s impressive 7.2-innings. There would be no repeat of the opening day bullpen collapse as the Red Sox scored three in the third en route to a 4-2 win. Despite the loss, the Rays fans did get a glimpse to the future as Willy Adames made his big league debut and homered off Sale.
The next night the game was tied at 1-1 entering the ninth inning but Boston scored three times off Alex Colome (only 1 earned) to take a 4-1 win.
Tampa Bay avoided a sweep in the final game in large part thanks to a scoreless six innings of work from Blake Snell en route to a 6-3 Rays win.
A Different Look:
Since the last meeting the Rays have posted a 39-34 mark and have made several changes to their roster.
The Rays traded Brad Miller to Milwaukee who subsequently designated him for assignment. Other who have been traded include Wilson Ramos (Phillies), Denard Span and Alex Colome (Mariners), Matt Andriese (Diamondbacks), Chris Archer (Pirates), Jonny Venters (Braves). Johnny Field was designated for assignment, claimed by the Indians, and now plays for the Minnesota Twins.
Daniel Robertson and Vidal Nuno are currently on the disabled list. Kevin Kiermaier, Carlos Gomez, Adeinny Hechavarria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jake Faria missed the last series with Boston as they were on the disabled list at the time.
The two teams square off for three games at Fenway Park this weekend and finish their season series back at Tropicana Field next weekend (August 24 through 26). While the Rays probably aren’t heading for a playoff berth (10 games out of a wild card spot), they can use these remaining two series as a yardstick against another American League playoff opponent. More importantly, they need to continue to win in order to finish the year above .500, which hasn’t happened since the 2013 season.