Red Sox run into surging Rays
The Boston Red Sox won their 90th game of this special season on Thursday at Fenway Park.
They got to 90 before any other team in the major leagues reached 80.
But this weekend, Boston, winners of the final two games of a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians to pick up a split, run into a young Tampa Bay club on a roll.
On Friday night, Castillo again opens for Tampa Bay, winners of five straight games to get to a season-high six games above .500, at The Trop and Beeks is expected to pitch much of the body of the game.
Oh, and Velazquez starts for the Red Sox (90-39).
The Rays flew home from Boston and swept four straight from the lowly Kansas City Royals, finishing a 7-0 sweep of the season series on a walk-off throwing error Thursday night.
It’s the first sweep of a season series against an American League opponent in the history of the franchise.
“Four-game sweep, it’s awesome — we’ve having a lot of fun right now, so hopefully just keep it rolling,” said Kevin Kiermaier, whose grounder led to the Ryan O’Hearn throwing error that gave the Rays their eighth walkoff win of the season.
Earlier in the day, David Price, 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA since the All-Star break, threw eight shutout innings and the Red Sox broke a scoreless tie with a six-run fifth inning to rout the Indians in the finale of the potential postseason matchup.
Asked if this is his best stretch with the Red Sox since signing a $217 million contract, Price, who won his 14th game, said, “By far. Absolutely. To not have that really bad game mixed in at some point, that’s good. This is the pitcher Boston signed. So for me to get back to that, it’s about time.”
The Red Sox lost Mitch Moreland in the first inning to a left knee bruise suffered when trying to catch a foul pop and sliding into a concrete barrier. He stayed in the game but was limping when he singled in the bottom of the first and left — in favor of Blake Swihart. The latter contributed a two-run double in the big fifth.
“Little sore,” Moreland said after the game. “Went after the ball in the first there, concrete ledge on the field that I kind of went into. I hit the outside of it pretty good. But it’s getting better. A little sore right now though.”
The Red Sox are 11-5 against the Rays this season. Velazquez is 1-1 and Friday’s appearance will give him half his starts against Tampa Bay. He is 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings pitched against the Rays.
Boston’s lead over the New York Yankees atop the American League East, which had dropped from 10 1/2 to eight games, is back up to 9 1/2.
Castillo went 1 2/3 innings as the “opener” last Sunday before Beeks, acquired from Boston in the Nathan Eovaldi deal, threw four shutout innings, allowing just one hit, to beat his old team.
Now, he’ll apparently get the chance to help his new team win its sixth straight.
Sergio Romo picked up the win in relief Thursday night, as the Rays improved to 37-24 at The Trop.
Matt Duffy is 5-for-7 (.714) against Velazquez, and Joey Wendle homered off the right-hander leading off the second inning last Sunday.
Eovaldi pitches against his former team Sunday, when he will face 15-game winner Blake Snell.