The Boston Red Sox need to take advantage of home games down the stretch, and they’re doing just that on the current homestand. The Red Sox will try to post their fourth consecutive win and maintain their edge in the American League East when they host the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Boston took two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays to begin the homestand and is finally beginning to string hits together after going through a collective slump bridging August and September. The Red Sox finished off the Blue Jays with a 6-1 triumph on Wednesday and pounded out 12 hits in Friday’s 9-3 triumph that left the team 4 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the East. The Rays, who will play a “home” series against the Yankees at Citi Field in New York next week to avoid the aftereffects of Hurricane Irma, are fighting to stay in the AL wild card race but dropped two games under .500 (70-72) with Friday’s setback. Boston is in a strong position to clinch a win in the three-game series when it sends ace Chris Sale to the mound on Saturday opposite Tampa Bay’s Matt Andriese.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Matt Andriese (5-2, 3.78 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (15-7, 2.85)
Andriese made his first start since coming back from a hip injury at the Chicago White Sox on Sunday and did not fare well, surrendering five runs and six hits in five innings. The 28-year-old tossed three scoreless innings of relief in his first appearance off the disabled list on Aug. 28 at Kansas City. Andriese allowed two runs in five innings to earn a win at Boston on May 14, his second victory in seven career appearances against the division rivals.
Sale suddenly finds himself in a battle for the AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and is fighting a history of fading in September. The Florida native needed 109 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings at New York on Sunday and surrendered three solo home runs among seven hits in a loss. Sale had no trouble at all in his last meeting with Tampa Bay on Aug. 8, when he struck out 13 and scattered two hits over eight scoreless innings.
1. Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. left Friday’s game with a bruised left knee.
2. Red Sox LF Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-5 on Friday, snapping an 0-for-20 drought entering the series.
3. Boston SS Xander Bogaerts is 4-for-40 since Aug. 26.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 6, Rays 1