Rays go for seven in a row in matchup with Red Sox
The Tampa Bay Rays are miles away from any kind of postseason contention as the season runs down, but that doesn’t mean Kevin Cash’s young team can’t continue to have some fun.
The Rays have won six straight games to get to a season-high seven games above .500. The streak started with Jalen Beeks coming out of the bullpen to beat his former team last Sunday — and win No. 6 turned out to be the same thing.
There were four wins over the lowly Kansas City Royals during the week — but Nos. 1 and 6 came over the sizzling Boston Red Sox. The Rays and Red Sox meet again Saturday.
Rookie Willy Adames, hitting .395 in his last 13 games, belted a 420-foot home run to dead center, went 2-for-3, stole a base and had two RBIs and three runs scored in the 10-3 rout of the first-place Red Sox. He is hitting .362 with five homers and 13 RBIs in August.
Asked on television what he would say to people who don’t like the future of this young group, Adames smiled and said, “They better start changing their minds because we coming in hot.”
“It’s nice sometimes to repay the favor — they’ve done it to us quite a bit,” Cash said of the Red Sox.
The only negative on the night for the Rays was Mallex Smith, who has been outstanding, landed in the hospital with a viral infection that sends him to the disabled list. Cash didn’t think it was serious, but it’s serious enough for the hospital and the DL.
Rookie Ryan Yarbrough, who leads the major leagues with 10 relief wins (and is 12-5), will start Saturday night as he faces 15-game winner Rick Porcello in Game 2 of the series — with ace Rick Snell set to face former Ray Nate Eovaldi in Sunday’s finale.
Hector Velazquez, a hard-luck loser to the Rays last Sunday, couldn’t get out of the third inning Friday night as the Rays stroked six straight two-out singles.
Porcello, 15-6 with a 4.14 ERA, has had two poor starts in his last three outings, yielding 12 earned runs and 12 hits in 11 innings around a good start in Philadelphia.
The Red Sox fell to 90-40 and saw their lead atop the American League East shrink back to 8 1/2 games over the New York Yankees, losing to the young pitcher they dealt for Eovaldi.
“We hit him hard today,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Beeks. “There were like six at-bats that we hit lasers everywhere. But he spotted his fastball. That’s what we know about the kid, but, hey to get Nate Eovaldi you’re going to give up good players and he’s a good pitcher.
“He made some pitches when he had to but we hit him hard today.”
Boston had 13 hits Friday night, but all were singles. They are 19-23 in games they don’t hit a homer, 71-17 in games they do.
“It was a good night for them, a bad one for us,” Cora said.
The Rays roster is hitting a cumulative .259 (37-for-143) against Porcello. Matt Duffy is 7-for-18 (.389), Carlos Gomez 3-for-9 (.333) and Joey Wendle 3-for-10 (.300), but Mallex Smith is just 4-for-22 (.182), Kevin Kiermaier 10-for-45 (.222) and C.J. Cron 3-for-13 (.231).
Yarbrough has faced the Red Sox three times in relief this season, going 1-0 with nine strikeouts while allowing three earned runs in eight innings.
Mitch Moreland, out for the Red Sox after suffering a left knee bruise in the first inning Thursday, missed the game, Cora reporting his first baseman was “feeling a lot better,” Friday. With the Rays starting a lefty Saturday night, Moreland would likely sit.
Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, still trying to come back from knee surgery and then a setback, threw a positive 35-pitch batting practice Friday.
Also Friday, the Red Sox promoted their top position prospect, Michael Chavis, who served a PED suspension earlier this season, to Triple-A. He responded with a home run and two doubles in his first three Triple-A at-bats.