Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
When: 7:10 PM ET, Friday, September 20, 2019
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
TAMPA – ST. PETE – The Tampa Bay Rays are loaded with confidence as they begin a six-game home stand with the first of four against the Boston Red Sox tonight. Tampa Bay returns to Tropicana Field after a 4-4 road trip left them tied with Cleveland for the final wild card spot in the American League and two games behind top wild card contender Oakland with nine to play.
“Just shows that we can compete with those guys and we can compete with anybody out there,” Austin Meadows told reporters after belting a solo home run in the 11th inning to give Tampa Bay an 8-7 victory at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. “We’re going to continue to prove that and go into the home stand with some motivation and get some wins.”
Meadows (32 home runs) is batting .407 with eight homers, 19 RBIs and 19 runs scored during a career-high hitting streak that encompasses all 16 September games of his breakout season. Charlie Morton, who is being aligned to start the AL wild card game if the Rays make it, tries for his career-high 16th victory of the season when he takes the ball Friday. Boston could be mathematically eliminated tonight, as they send Rick Porcello to the hill. The Red Sox reign as World Series champions will soon draw to a close.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (13-12, 5.77 ERA) vs. Rays RH Charlie Morton (15-6, 3.16)
Porcello allowed two runs and five hits with six strikeouts in five innings of a 6-3 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday. The 30-year-old New Jersey native yielded six runs over four innings in each of his previous two starts – home losses to Minnesota and the New York Yankees – part of the reason why he owns the worst ERA in the majors among qualified pitchers. Tampa Bay’s Avisail Garcia is 12-for-30 with two home runs, seven RBIs and eight strikeouts versus Porcello, who is 14-12 with a 3.67 ERA in 31 starts against the Rays – 0-2, 6.23 in three outings this season – but 8-5, 2.87 in 16 turns at at Tropicana Field lifetime.
Morton extended his career high with his 31st start of the season in an 11-4 victory over the Angels in Anaheim on Friday, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings. The 35-year-old New Jersey native, who won 15 games in 2018 with Houston, is 7-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 15 starts at home this season. Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are a combined 13-for-38 versus Morton, who is 5-1 with a 4.26 ERA in eight starts versus the Red Sox – 2-0, 4.18 in four outings this season.
- Tampa Bay has allowed a major league-low 170 home runs.
- Boston RF Mookie Betts could return this weekend after missing the last five games with a sore left foot, but manager Alex Cora told reporters he would only serve as the designated hitter.
- The Rays lead the season series 9-6 but have lost five of six meetings at Tropicana Field.