Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
ST. PETERSBURG – The Boston Red Sox uncharacteristically used the long ball to even the series and hope to build on the momentum when they visit the Tampa Bay Rays for the third of the four-game set on Saturday afternoon. The Red Sox, who are last in the American League with 90 homers, belted three Friday night to pull away for an 8-3 victory after losing the opener with their ace Chris Sale on the mound.
Dustin Pedroia, who is 4-for-9 in the series, got things started with a two-run blast while Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez added solo homers for Boston, which became the second AL team to reach 50 wins. The Red Sox send reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello to the hill to try and put a positive end to a rough first half and Tampa Bay counters with fellow right-hander Alex Cobb, who is 1-0 with a 5.56 ERA in two outings against Boston in 2017. The Rays could not follow up an inspiring victory over Sale on Thursday, but Steven Souza Jr. launched the team’s 132nd homer of the season – second in the AL. Tampa Bay’s Logan Morrison walked twice Friday to extend his on-base streak to 27 contests and the first baseman is 8-for-17 his last five games.
TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (4-10, 5.01 ERA) vs. Rays RH Alex Cobb (6-6, 4.01)
Porcello owns just one victory in his last eight starts, but has been able to complete at least six innings in 15 consecutive outings and 17-of-18 overall this season. The 28-year-old New Jersey native allowed three runs on three hits (two homers) in a no-decision at Texas last time out and has given up nine blasts in his last seven contests. Morrison is 10-for-27 with a homer overall against Porcello, who is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA versus the Rays in 2017.
Cobb followed up his best outing of the season at Pittsburgh on June 27 with one of his worst five days later at Baltimore when he permitted seven runs (six earned) in 6 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old Boston native had gone 2-0 over his four previous outings, capped by a no-decision against Pittsburgh when he surrendered two hits over eight scoreless frames. Christian Vazquez is 4-for-6 versus Cobb, who is 4-3 with a 3.84 ERA lifetime against Boston.
1. Tampa Bay 2B Brad Miller went 2-for-2 with an RBI Friday after being activated from the disabled list while INF Tim Beckham (ankle) was placed on the 10-day DL.
2. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts (hand) missed Friday’s game, but told reporters he hoped to play at some point this weekend.
3. Rays RHP Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA, 139 strikeouts) was added to the AL All-Star team on Friday.