The Boston Red Sox are on another hot streak with the bats and continue to draw closer to another American League East title. The Red Sox will try to shave another game off their magic number and complete a three-game sweep when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale on Sunday.
Boston put its AL East supremacy in danger with a stretch of eight losses in 12 games that featured some inconsistent offense, but the Red Sox increased their current winning streak to four in a row with a 9-0 win over the Rays on Saturday - their second straight nine-run explosion. The surge is being led by rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who is 4-for-10 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the last two games after going 0-for-18 in the previous four contests. Saturday’s win left the Red Sox 4 1/2 games ahead of the rival New York Yankees in the East while the Rays remained 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota in a crowded race for the second AL wild-card. Tampa Bay, which dropped its last three games while surrendering a total of 28 runs, will try to stop the bleeding by sending Alex Cobb to the mound on Sunday opposite Boston right-hander Rick Porcello.
TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Alex Cobb (10-9, 3.64 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (9-16, 4.67)
Cobb has been solid in his first three starts since off the disabled list, allowing a total of four runs and 14 hits in 16 innings while striking out 18. The 29-year-old earned his first win since July 26 by holding the Twins to one run and three hits in 5 2/3 frames on Monday. Cobb won at Boston on May 12 and dominated the Red Sox at home on July 8, scattering two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Porcello is trying to bounce back after getting pounded for seven runs and 10 hits - three homers - over 5 1/3 innings against Toronto on Monday. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has struggled with the long ball all season and is tied for the major-league lead with 35 home runs allowed. Porcello surrendered a pair of solo shots at Tampa Bay on Aug. 9 but limited the damage to those two runs over six innings to earn a win.
1. Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez left Saturday’s game with a bruised knee after a hard slide and is doubtful for Sunday.
2. Tampa Bay RF Steven Souza Jr. sat out Saturday with a bruised left knee and is day-to-day.
3. Boston rookie 3B Rafael Devers is 7-for-12 with four runs scored in the last three games.
PREDICTION: Rays 6, Red Sox 3