Boston at Tampa Bay
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TAMPA – Boston expected big things from J.D. Martinez when they signed him to a five-year, $110 million contract during the offseason, and he’s done nothing to disappoint as the Red Sox hit the road for a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning Tuesday. Martinez is hitting .343 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs and, along with Mookie Betts (.365, 15, 32), has helped Boston (32-15) garner the most victories in baseball.
“(Martinez) puts himself in such a good position to hit,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. “He’s ready for what he wants to hit.” Boston and Tampa Bay are quite familiar with each other as the Red Sox own seven wins in 10 meetings this season, but the Rays have kept Martinez in check as he has one home run and seven RBIs with 13 strikeouts in 38 at-bats in those games. Tampa Bay (22-23) is experiencing a roller coaster season with a pair of eight-game streaks – one winning and one losing – and had won six in a row before Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels wrapped up a 7-4 road trip. Boston’s Chris Sale hasn’t allowed more than three runs in his 10 starts this season and Tuesday opposes Jake Faria, who is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in four home outings this season.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (4-1, 2.29 ERA) vs. Rays RH Jake Faria (3-2, 5.20)
Sale allowed two runs, two hits and four walks – his most since 2016 – while striking out nine in five innings of a 6-4 victory over Oakland on Wednesday. The 29-year-old Floridian, who has struck out 36 in his last three starts, is 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six road outings this season. Wilson Ramos is 4-for-13 with two home runs and C.J. Cron is 0-for-13 with eight strikeouts versus Sale, who is 8-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) versus Tampa Bay after earning a no-decision when he pitched six shutout innings in Boston’s 6-4 Opening Day loss at Tropicana Field.
Faria earned a no-decision after yielding three runs, four hits and four walks while striking out two in 4 1/3 innings of the Rays’ 5-3 victory at Kansas City on Wednesday. The 24-year-old Californian has permitted three or fewer runs in six of his nine starts this season, allowing eight runs, five hits and five walks in 1 2/3 innings of a 10-3 loss at Boston on April 7 when Xander Bogaerts hit a grand slam in the second inning. Faria is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA in four outings (three starts) against the Red Sox, including 1-0, 1.38 versus Boston in three home games.
1. Martinez has 47 home runs and 116 RBIs in 120 games since July 1 and joins Betts as the first players in Red Sox history with 15 homers in the first 50 games of a season.
2. Rays INF Joey Wendle is 8-for-19 versus Boston this season while Bogaerts is 16-for-35 with two home runs and 11 RBIs against the Rays.
3. Boston LF Andrew Benintendi (.285) is batting .338 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 May games after hitting .242 with one homer and 15 RBIs in his first 26 contests of the season.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 3, Rays 2