(Updated: UPDATES Red Sox standing in the third sentence.)
The Boston Red Sox bought themselves a little breathing room in the American League East with a pair of wins over the last-place Toronto Blue Jays this week and would like to continue taking advantage of teams with losing records at home. The Red Sox will attempt to do just that when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game series on Friday.
Boston brushed aside any controversy from the rival New York Yankees accusing them of sign stealing by surviving a 19-inning marathon with a win over the Blue Jays and carried that momentum into a 6-1 triumph in the rain during the rubber match on Wednesday, leaving the team 3 1/2 games up in the East heading into the weekend. “It’s in our hands,” Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. told reporters. “We just have to continue to play good baseball and control what we can control, and not worry about anything else.” The Rays (70-71) are trying to stay in the AL wild card race and have a chance to swing the AL East race with 12 more games left against Boston and New York. Tampa Bay will throw its best at the Red Sox on Friday, when right-hander Chris Archer opposes lefty Drew Pomeranz.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Chris Archer (9-8, 3.76 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Drew Pomeranz (14-5, 3.36)
Archer did not record an out at the Chicago White Sox on Saturday and was removed after just eight pitches due to tightness in his forearm. An MRI revealed no structural damage and the North Carolina native came through a throwing session with no issues on Tuesday, allowing Tampa Bay to keep him in his spot in the rotation. Archer, who allowed three or fewer earned runs in six straight and 12 of his last 13 outings, is just 2-11 with a 5.06 ERA in 18 career starts against Boston.
Pomeranz had a string of eight straight starts surrendering three or fewer runs come to an end when he was reached for four runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings while suffering a loss at New York on Saturday. The 28-year-old yielded a pair of home runs in that start, matching his total from the previous six outings. Pomeranz last saw Tampa Bay on July 7, when he earned a win by scattering two runs over six innings.
1. Red Sox LHP David Price (elbow) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday.
2. Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria is 6-for-12 over the last three games, matching his hit total from the previous nine contests.
3. Boston rookie LF Andrew Benintendi is 0-for-18 over the last four games.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 3, Rays 2