Red Sox vs Rays Series Preview


The Boston Red Sox will begin their road to redemption in Tampa this weekend for a four-game series.

Two consecutive A.L. East titles, two consecutive first-round exits in the ALDS. The Boston Red Sox enter 2018 with revenge and redemption on their mind.

After making some offseason changes to the club, the Red Sox will play the Tampa Rays at Tropicana Field for Opening Day festivities. The first pitch in St. Petersburg is expected to be hurled by Rays ace Chris Archer at 4:10 p.m.

Manager Alex Cora, DH/OF J.D. Martinez, INF Eduardo Nunez and 3B Rafael Devers will all make their Opening Day debuts with the Red Sox. It’s been rumored Martinez will hit cleanup, while Nunez and Devers will hit sixth and seventh, though Cora hasn’t decided what order.

As the Red Sox (93-69 in 2017) have high expectations and aspirations for the 2018 season, the Rays (80-82 in 2017) figure to be in a bit of a bridge year after parting ways with key pieces from last year’s team.

It’s never easy losing six key pieces to your team. The Rays lost DH Logan Morrison (Twins), 1B Lucas Duda (Royals), SP Alex Cobb (Orioles) and RHP Steve Cishek (Cubs) to free agency. These aren’t All-Star players, but they all made positive contributions to the team’s success last year.

The Rays didn’t stop there, they made even more noteworthy deals.

Tampa Bay traded their face of the franchise, 3B Evan Longoria, to the Giants in exchange for OF Denard Span, 3B Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Krook, and RHP Stephen Woods.

They also traded RF Steven Souza in a three-team deal with the Yankees and Diamondbacks in exchange for 2B Nick Solak, LHP Anthony Banda, and two players to be named later.

Additionally, the Rays dealt OF/DH Corey Dickerson to the Pirates for IF Tristan Gray, RHP Daniel Hudson and cash, followed by a trade of RHP Jake Odorizzi to the Twins in exchange for IF Jermaine Palacios.

As per usual, we don’t know how successful — or unsuccessful — the Rays’ season will be. They moved pieces around to give younger ones opportunities; a forte they’ve followed for years. However, we can expect the Rays to be as pesky as always with promising young arms and a strong bullpen.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday, March 29 at 4:10 PM – Chris Sale vs Chris Archer

Friday, March 30 at 7:10 PM – David Price vs Blake Snell

Saturday, March 31 at 6:10 PM – Rick Porcello vs TBA

Sunday, April 1 at 1:10 PM – Hector Velazquez vs Jake Faria

Series Notes

  • Sale makes the fourth Opening Day start of his career, but first for the Red Sox. Sale is looking to continue his Opening Day success with a 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his previous openers.
  • In seven career starts at Tropicana Field, Sale is 3-3 with a 2.31 ERA.
  • Archer has nasty stuff and produces many strikeouts, but he’s posted three consecutive losing seasons. Is this the year Archer puts it all together?
  • Snell finished off the 2017 season with a bang, going 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his final 10 starts.
  • Price owns a 2.88 career ERA at Tropicana Field, mainly because he has pitched there more than any other ballpark in his career.

Three Keys To Victory

  • Late inning execution: The Red Sox always find themselves in a bullpen battle every series against the Rays — especially at the Trop. It seems like the Red Sox blow a lead or fail to execute with late-inning drama costing them a victory.
  • Defense/mental errors: Without knocking Devers or Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox must avoid giving the Rays extra opportunities to do damage at the dish. Devers is far from a liability at third, and flashed a promising glove, but is still polishing his technique and footwork. Ramirez has been known to have a few mental errors every now and then.
  • Offense: This is an obvious one, but the Red Sox need to score early and often. The Rays aren’t incompetent, but they certainly are inferior to the Red Sox. If Boston can put up runs early, the starting pitchers can cruise through six-ish innings without taxing themselves or the bullpen. The last thing the Red Sox want to do is get into a bullpen war early in the season with the Rays. The Yankees and Orioles are around the corner.

Next: Red Sox: There should be excitement for Hector Velazquez

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