The Boston Red Sox can’t seem to beat the Rays in Tampa Bay
Tropicana Field has become a house of horrors for the Boston Red Sox.
The white dome that makes fly balls difficult to track and the clutter of catwalks wreaking havoc have long made the home of the Tampa Bay Rays a circus that often facilitates some of baseball’s most bizarre plays. It was easy to deal with the park’s frustrating quirks when the Sox were winning, but those victories have eluded them this season.
This week, the Rays swept the Sox in a three-game series, outscoring them 13-7. A strong start from Michael Wacha was spoiled by the latest meltdown from Jeurys Familia, who inexplicably still has a spot on a big-league roster. They pounded Rich Hill – who pitched for them last year – for five runs the following night. Nick Pivetta carried a no-hitter through four innings in the finale but a patchwork lineup missing both Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts failed to deliver any run support in a 1-0 loss.
Wednesday’s loss marked the first time that the Red Sox have been shut out since May 30 when the Baltimore Orioles dominated a 10-0 game at Fenway Park. The 87-game streak without being shut out was the longest active streak in the majors and the longest by the Red Sox since they went 92 games without being shut out in 1999.
Boston won the opener of a series during their first visit to Tampa Bay this season back in April. Since then, they have dropped nine straight games at Tropicana Field. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, that’s the longest single-season losing streak ever by a visiting team at Tropicana Field.
The Red Sox have fallen to 4-12 against the Rays this season and a pitiful 18-39 against their AL East division rivals. Boston owns a winning record against each of the other two American League divisions and they are 8-10 in interleague play with two very winnable games in Cincinnati remaining on the schedule. But their inability to beat the teams in their own division has been a key part of their downfall, with their ineptitude at The Trop serving as the lowlight for those struggles.
The days of beating up on the small-market Rays are long gone. Tampa Bay has become a perennial playoff contender that has been a thorn in the side of the Red Sox for the last several years. Since 2019, the Red Sox are 22-42 against the Rays.
Boston managed to stun the Rays 3-1 in the ALDS last year, splitting two games at The Trop before finishing them off at Fenway. At least they won when it mattered most, but the Red Sox have been dominated by the Rays in the regular season over the last four years.
Fortunately, the Red Sox are done visiting Tropicana Field this year. The Rays will come to Boston to wrap up the regular season in a three-game series from October 3-5. The teams have split the six games at Fenway this season so the Red Sox stand a better chance on their home turf, although they have already started packing it in this season while the Rays might still be fighting for playoff positioning.
With MLB implementing a revamped schedule starting next season that allows each team to face every other team, the percentage of games against division rivals will shrink dramatically. Boston will only visit The Trop twice next year. That’s welcome news for a Red Sox team that was historically awful in that ballpark this season.