Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox series primer

After being swept at Toronto, the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series with the suddenly hot Boston Red Sox on Friday night.

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria hit .324 (11 for 34) with one home run and one RBI in seven games from May 22-28.

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Godspeed, momentum. If you blinked, you missed it. Big Mo zipped by the Tampa Bay Rays as fast as a home run off Edwin Encarnacion's punishing lumber.

Remember the good vibes after the Rays swept the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field last weekend? Remember when they had earned extra pep after claiming their first four-game winning streak of the season?

Remember when things looked up in a season that, to this point, has included too much down, down, down toward the bottom of the American League East?

Those were better days. It's back to the familiar doldrums after the Toronto Blue Jays swept them at Rogers Centre from Monday through Wednesday. Oh, the Rays made some noise. They cracked a few screamers. But Toronto was flat-out better -- and a few degrees hotter -- in outscoring Tampa Bay a combined 22-13 to send the Rays packing at 23-31.

So settle in. It's time for another round of Rays-Red Sox, this time at Fenway Park, and excuse us if we search for Michael Buffer near home plate when these two AL East rivals prepare to rumble again.

Both parties involved say the benches-clearing fracas near third base last Sunday is behind them. Sure. Memories in baseball are as long as New England winters, so we'll believe it when we see it.

Turns out, the Red Sox have looked less hopeless since that afternoon. The boys from Beantown have won four straight. Apparently, they'd be a favorite to go 162-0 if the Atlanta Braves were the lone foe on their schedule. But once again they meet the Rays, who have won five of six games between the teams this year.

Enjoy, because Rays-Red Sox doesn't happen again until they tangle at Tropicana Field from July 25-27.

Here's a look at the upcoming Rays-Red Sox series:


Friday (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
David Price (4-4, 4.42 ERA) vs. Brandon Workman (0-0, 3.18 ERA)

Saturday (FOX Sports -- first pitch is 7:15 p.m.)
Jake Odorizzi (2-4, 4.56 ERA) vs. TBA

Sunday (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 1:00 p.m.)
Alex Cobb (1-2, 2.93 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (5-6, 3.45 ERA)


Evan Longoria (Rays): He hit .324 (11 for 34) with one home run and one RBI in seven games from May 22-28. He had a six-game hitting streak from May 22-27. He has hit .264 with five home runs and 23 RBI this season.

Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): He hit .367 (11 for 30) with three RBI in seven games from May 23-29. He had four multi-hit games in the span. He has hit .296 with three home runs and 12 RBI this season.


Wil Myers (Rays): He hit .095 (2 for 21) with four strikeouts in seven games from May 22-28. He went hitless in five games during the span. He has hit .228 with five home runs and 25 RBI this season.

David Ortiz (Red Sox): He hit .222 (4 for 18) with one home run and three strikeouts in seven games from May 23-29. He never had more than one hit in each game in the span. He has hit .270 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI this season.


3: Rays players who smacked home runs in their 10-5 loss to the Blue Jays on Monday at Rogers Centre. David DeJesus, Desmond Jennings and James Loney all produced them in defeat. Despite the power display, Tampa Bay was outhit 16-10.

6: Runs allowed by right-hander Alex Cobb in the Rays' 9-6 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. He hadn't allowed a run in three previous starts from April 6-May 22. He surrendered nine hits after not allowing more than five in four previous appearances this season.

15: Losses in May for the Rays after a 3-2 defeat to the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Rogers Centre. Their 12-15 record for the month is second-worst in the AL East, better than only the Red Sox's 10-15 mark. Tampa Bay is 5-7 at home and 7-8 on the road in May.


''They're hitting every hole. Everything was going their way. They hit good pitches and everything.'' -- Left-hander Erik Bedard after he allowed eight runs and 13 hits in four innings in the Rays' loss Monday. Tampa Bay tied the game at five with three runs in the top of the fifth, but Toronto scored five more runs over the next two innings.

''The first couple of warmup pitches the leg was still a little bit dead. Honestly, by the third or fourth pitch, going back into game mode, it wasn't a factor. It was something I felt was out of my mind.'' -- Cobb after a liner from Jose Reyes struck him on the right thigh in the bottom of the fifth of the Rays' loss Tuesday. Cobb was knocked to the ground after the incident.

''You have to give them credit, they beat us with their defense.'' -- Manager Joe Maddon after the Rays' loss Wednesday, which became their third consecutive after a season-best four-game winning streak before the trip to Toronto. Tampa Bay was outhit 9-4 in defeat, but many potential hits were taken away because of strong defensive plays.


June 2-3 -- Rays at Marlins

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.

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