The Boston Red Sox needed 15 innings to dispatch the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, but the effort was important to their position atop the American League East. The Red Sox will try to clinch a series win when they visit the Rays for the middle contest of their three-game set on Saturday.
Dustin Pedroia stranded 10 baserunners while going hitless in his first seven at-bats before coming up with two on in the 15th and sending a grounder to the right side that Rays second baseman Brad Miller could not field cleanly, pushing across the go-ahead run on the error and opening up the floodgates. The 13-6 win left the Red Sox three games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East and improved the team to 7-3 during a stretch of 21 straight contests against teams with losing records. Tampa Bay’s boom-or-bust offensive attack broke out the boom with two home runs off Boston ace Chris Sale and a total of four in the contest, including a solo shot by Kevin Kiermaier in the 14th inning that kept the game going after Boston had taken a lead. The Rays will take aim at a pitcher that has been susceptible to the long ball on Saturday in Boston’s Rick Porcello, who opposes Alex Cobb.
TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (9-17, 4.64 ERA) vs. Rays RH Alex Cobb (11-9, 3.59)
Porcello needed 95 pitches to get through five innings against the Rays on Sunday and allowed two runs on five hits and three walks while suffering his 17th defeat - 13 more than last season. The New Jersey native did manage to get through that start without surrendering a home run but remains tied for the major-league lead with 35 blasts allowed. Porcello served up a pair of solo shots at Tampa Bay on Aug. 9 but limited the damage to those two runs over six innings to record a win.
Cobb threw 93 pitches to get through five frames at Fenway Park on Sunday but outdueled Porcello by yielding one run and four hits en route to the win. The 29-year-old has allowed fewer than two runs in four of his last five outings but has completed six innings just twice in that span. Cobb had no trouble cutting through Boston’s lineup at home on July 8, when he scattered two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless frames to pick up a victory.
1. The Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for using a device to steal signs against the Yankees.
2. Tampa Bay RHP Tommy Hunter has not allowed a hit or a walk in any of his last six appearances, totaling six innings.
3. Boston INF Eduardo Nunez (knee) and DH Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) are both day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Rays 8, Red Sox 4