video thumbnail

BAL@BOS: Buchholz tosses seven shutout innings

If Saturday's season-series opener was any indication, the 19 games between the Rays and Red Sox this year could be just as evenly matched as last year.

After the two teams split their 18 meetings last season, Boston pulled out a 2-1 extra-innings win in on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

At 6-4 on the young season, the Red Sox are off to their best start since 2007 and sit atop the American League East.

The Red Sox haven't won a season series against the Rays since taking seven straight from 2001-07. Tampa Bay won just 28 of its first 102 games at Fenway Park, but the Rays now have the best record of any opponent in Boston (18-10) since 2010.

After aces David Price and Jon Lester each allowed just one run Saturday, another pitchers' duel could be in the offing Sunday. The Rays' Alex Cobb is making his first start since April 6, but the righty had a similar lengthy wait when he didn't pitch in a game from a March 22 Grapefruit League outing until his first start of the season.

"It's been kind of on the fly these first two starts," Cobb said. "I've been doing it for a while now."

Cobb will be opposed by Boston's Clay Buchholz, who has been stellar to start the year. The righty will be trying to go 3-0 for the first time since winning his first three Major League starts upon being called up in 2007. He has allowed just five homers in 88 career innings against Tampa Bay.

The Rays' offense has been quiet, hitting just .169 (27-for-160) with eight runs over their last five games. They've recorded just six extra-base hits, including three doubles from Desmond Jennings. Tampa Bay has been outscored, 26-8, in those games, going 3-for-36 with runners in scoring position.

Boston, meanwhile, has held its opponents to four runs or fewer in all but two games this season.

Rays: Stars leading the way
• Tampa Bay has 70 hits as a team through nine games, and 22 of them have come from Evan Longoria (10) and Ben Zobrist (12).

• This road trip started the Rays on a stretch in which they play 20 of 26 games away from Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay began last year 1-5 away from home before going 43-32 the rest of the way.

Red Sox: Nava in, so Bradley out
Daniel Nava has reached base safely in 14 of 29 plate appearances this season (nine hits, four walks, hit by pitch). He's hitting .391 (9-for-23) in that stretch.

As Nava continues to stay hot, it has kept Jackie Bradley Jr. on the bench. While the Red Sox had originally said they only wanted their No. 2 prospect in the Majors if he had the opportunity to play every day, Nava's hot bat has forced manager John Farrell's hand.

"We're not here to say there are roster changes that are going to take place just because Jackie's not playing for the second time in four days. That's not what we're here about. We'll continue to find the right combinations, and that would include Jackie in different scenarios as well."

Nava hit a home run and drew a walk in three consecutive games from Sunday to Wednesday this week, something a Red Sox player has not done since Manny Ramirez from Aug. 13-15, 2003. Nava has homered five times in his last 11 games overall, dating back to Sept. 30 of last year. He's also reached safely in a career-high 17 consecutive starts dating back to Sept. 21.

Worth noting
• Friday night's postponement will be made up June 18 at 1:05 p.m. ET as the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park. Tickets for Friday's game will be good for admission to that makeup game. The start time of that day's regularly-scheduled game between the Red Sox and Rays will remain at 7:10 p.m.

• With their off-day Thursday and Friday's postponement, the Rays were off for two consecutive days for the first time (other than an All-Star break) since May 25-26, 2011, when there was a rainout in Detroit followed by an off-day.

MLB.com Comments