After a week of uncertainty, it was a relief for the Tampa Bay Rays to finally get word that not only would they be going home, but they would get to play games this weekend at Tropicana Field. The Rays will welcome the Boston Red Sox for the opener of a three-game series in Tampa beginning on Friday.
Hurricane Irma caused the cancellation and postponements of sporting events all over Florida, and the Rays were forced to play a home series against the New York Yankees at Citi Field in New York earlier this week before getting word that Tampa would be able to host this weekend’s series. “I don’t know if the right word is ‘relief,’ but it is nice to finally get home,” Rays right-hander Chris Archer told reporters while focusing on baseball after a 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s anybody feeling relieved after we lost two of three given our current situation. ... There were some good things, there were some bad things, but turn the page, and go get the Red Sox on Friday.” Boston took two of three from Tampa Bay at home last weekend and won six of its last eight games after finishing off the homestand with a 6-2 triumph over Oakland on Thursday. The Red Sox, who enter the series in first place in the American League East, will send ace Chris Sale to the mound in the opener opposite Rays right-hander Matt Andriese.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (16-7, 2.76 ERA) vs. Rays RH Matt Andriese (5-3, 4.46)
Sale is in a battle with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber for the AL Cy Young Award and had no trouble cutting through Tampa Bay’s lineup on Saturday, when he scattered six hits and struck out eight in six innings to earn the win. The Florida native lost three of his previous four outings and is just 9-14 with a 3.63 ERA in his career in September. Sale is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA in five starts against the Rays this season and owns 25 strikeouts in 15 total innings at Tropicana Field.
Andriese went up against Sale last Saturday and could not make it out of the second inning while being charged with eight runs - six earned - on seven hits and two walks in 1 2/3 frames. The 28-year-old surrendered a total of 13 runs - 11 earned - in 6 2/3 innings over his last two outings - both losses. Andriese is a much better pitcher at Tropicana Field, where he owns a 4-0 record with a 3.48 ERA in eight starts this season.
1. Red Sox LF Andrew Benintendi is 11-for-22 with six doubles and eight RBIs in his last five games.
2. Tampa Bay 1B Logan Morrison is 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts in his last seven games.
3. Boston activated LHP David Price (elbow) from the 10-day DL on Thursday and plans to use him out of the bullpen.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Rays 2