Red Sox vs. Rays series preview: the battle for mediocrity

May 6, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of a Boston Red Sox bat weight during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of a Boston Red Sox bat weight during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox (18-16) host the Tampa Bay Rays (17-20) for a quick three-game series at Fenway Park this weekend. Heading into the series, both teams have been hovering around a .500 record.

The Red Sox have been unable to muster up any sort of momentum this season. They stand 4.5 games behind Orioles for 1st place in the division. Their longest winning streak of the season was only 4 games and that came about a month ago.

The Rays come into the series ice cold, losing six out of their last nine games. In those nine games, they have averaged just about 4 runs a game offensively.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, May 12 at 7:10 PM – Rick Porcello (2-4, 3.95 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (2-3, 3.56 ERA)

Saturday, May 13 at 7:10 PM – Chris Sale (3-2, 1.92 ERA) vs Blake Snell (0-3, 3.96 ERA)

Sunday, May 14 at 1:35 PM – Drew Pomeranz (3-2, 5.23 ERA) vs Matt Andriese (2-1, 3.12 ERA)

Series Notes

Game 1 starter Alex Cobb and game 3 starter Matt Andriese have both been pitching well of late. Over the last 15 days, Cobb has an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.86. Andriese has an ERA of 2.33, a WHIP of 1.19, and a K/9 of 8.85. The Sox will have to string together baserunners in order to have a chance at beating Cobb and Andriese.

More from Red Sox News

  • I mentioned last week how Benintendi seemed to enjoy moving to the cleanup spot in the lineup. It looks like Mookie Betts has enjoyed his move as well. After returning to the leadoff spot, where he hit for most of last year, he has hit .454 with 7 of his 10 hits being for extra bases (4 doubles and 3 home runs). Mookie needs to continue to hit well atop the lineup because he needs to be the catalyst for a dormant offense.
  • The Red Sox currently rank as a team: 2nd in batting average, 3rd in OBP, and 6th in OPS. They have also struck out the fewer than any team. So why is it that they rank 15th in runs scored and can’t seem to shake a .500 record? It is most likely because they rank 22nd in runners left in scoring position. The Sox have left an average of 3.59 guys in scoring position per game. Obviously, they need to find a way to get runners across the plate when they are on 2nd or 3rd.
  • Chris Sale continues to be must-watch television. He has struck out at least 10 batters and given up 2 or fewer runs on six of his seven starts. Sale is also sporting a 1.92 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a 12.7 K/9. There’s not stat for it, but it seems like every game he pitches lasts about two and a half hours. He’ll be pitching in game 2 against fellow southpaw Blake Snell.

    Key Hitters

    Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts

    2017 Season (30 Games): .342/.394/.427, 0 HR, 9 RBI

    Career vs Tampa Bay Rays (57 Games): .281/.355/.419, 4 HR, 25 RBI

    Bogaerts has been productive of late, hitting .375 in the last 15 days. He has also scored 11 runs and provided some speed in the middle of the lineup, stealing 3 bases. The elephant in the room this year has been his power. Bogaerts has yet to hit a homerun and only has 8 extra base hits. Farrell has to continue to decide the tradeoffs he’s willing to make. Usually, the best hitter hits 3rd, providing power, average, and OBP. Bogaerts can hit and get on base, but obviously, does not provide the pop in the middle.

    Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria

    2017 Season (35 Games): .234/.310/.387, 4 HR, 14 RBI

    Career vs Red Sox (156 Games): .280/.357/.507, 30 HR, 96 RBI

    Longoria has really struggled out of the gate this year. As you can see, his all of his numbers are down, especially his power numbers. He has been healthy this year playing in all but two games. Longoria is also averaging just about a strikeout per game. He never has really had a full season like the one he is currently having. Look for him to start to turn his season around. He has a history of killing the Red Sox.

    Next: With Kendrick done, who’s next in line to start?

    Check back with BoSox Injection prior to the start of every Red Sox series this season for our preview!