ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As rough a road trip as the Boston Red Sox have had in the past week, they enter Wednesday's series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays with David Price on the mound and a chance to finish the trip 3-3 with a win.
That was the powerful momentum of Tuesday's 8-2 win, which bore little resemblance to the 13-7 loss the night before that saw Boston give up a season-high 18 hits in taking their sixth loss in eight games.
Boston manager John Farrell said he didn't see more urgency than normal from his club, but liked the emotion he saw, like Rick Porcello getting out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fourth or Hanley Ramirez scoring from first on a double to help extend the lead.
“I don't know about urgency, but we've played with a lot of energy,” Farrell said. “I can't say enough about the way our position players have continued to grind away, not give at-bats away, find a way to build an inning late when we've been down multiple runs. Tonight was just another example of that.”
Now Price (8-4, 4.68 ERA) gets to face his old team — he didn't take the loss but was on the mound in April when Tampa Bay got a 12-8 win in Boston. He's pitched at Tropicana Field twice since being traded from the Rays in 2014, losing both games, including an eight-inning, one-hit 1-0 loss in 2014.
“It would mean David went out and pitched the game he was capable of,” Farrell said of his confidence in Price facing his old team again to close out the series.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, answers with LHP Matt Moore (3-5, 5.04 ERA), who has gone six innings or more in his last four starts. He's 3-4 for his career against Boston with a 5.40 ERA — he beat the Red Sox in Boston in September. In his last start against Boston, he gave up four home runs, including David Ortiz's 500th of his career. Starting pitching, once a strength of the Rays' success, has been less and less dependable as their season has progressed.
The Rays have dropped 12 of 13 games and will hope to salvage a series win Wednesday, even against a tough pitcher they know well. Their margin of error with a thin, depleted bullpen is razor thin, as was the case Tuesday when a bad outing by Enny Romero took a 3-1 game to 6-1 in the seventh.
“We're built on winning tight ballgames and keeping things within reach,” manager Kevin Cash said after seeing starter Chris Archer take his 11th loss, the most in the majors. “Not that getting behind 3-1 or 4-1 is out of reach, but you felt the momentum shift right there.”