Coming to Fenway Park didn't bother Rays
There was a time when the young Tampa Bay Rays considered Fenway Park to be their personal house of horrors.
That all changed when they beat Boston in the 2008 American League championship series and swept the Red Sox in a key series the following September.
''I just think there's a lot of guys on this team that know how to win in this ballpark,'' outfielder B.J. Upton said after Wednesday's series finale against the Red Sox was rained out.
''I think there's a different attitude coming in here. We used to come in doubting ourselves. It helped when we swept them. Now we come in expecting to win.''
Even losing eight of their first nine games and entering with a .163 team batting average didn't spoil their confidence.
''No doubt, without the character of our guys, it would have been tough in the past,'' manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays swept the rain-shortened two-game series.
Now the Rays leave Boston knowing they've left the Red Sox struggling and searching for something to get on the right track.
And maybe a little break is what the struggling Red Sox need.
Two of the AL's early season disappointments got together for a rain-shortened two game series, and the Tampa Bay Rays left town feeling as if things are going in the right direction.
The Red Sox, though, can't seem to shake this miserable start.
''We've created a nine-game fiasco early in the season and now we've got to try and figure out a way to make it better,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after Wednesday's series finale was rained out.
The Red Sox came into the season as a trendy pick to reach the World Series. Instead, after an offseason highlighted by signing free agent Carl Crawford, trading for slugger Adrian Gonzalez and revamping a bullpen that struggled in 2010, they are a major-league worst 2-9.
''Everybody's worried. I won't lie to you,'' David Ortiz said. ''Everybody's working their butt off to get things better. Things are not coming the way we expected, but everybody's trying to change things around.''
Now, they hope an unusual two-day break will be timely.
''I don't think that'll hurt one bit - being able to step away from it,'' Francona said.
Boston's next scheduled game is Friday when it opens a four-game series against Toronto, which is managed by former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell.
Clay Buchholz will open the series against the Blue Jays, and Wednesday's scheduled starter, John Lackey, will be skipped until Tuesday.
There was no makeup date announced for the rainout.
''Definitely, turn the page you know,'' Ortiz said. ''Make things better and start winning ballgames.''
On Monday night, the Rays pounded starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, posting a 16-5 win. The right-hander gave up seven runs in two innings before being lifted to boos in the third inning.
The Rays came into that game hitting a major-league worst and had scored just 20 total runs, the fewest after nine games since the 2003 Detroit Tigers - a team that finished 43-119.
In Tuesday's game, David Price outpitched Jon Lester as the Rays won 3-2.
Like any team struggling, Francona had to answer questions about how the club's handling the slide.
''What we need to do is win, and then they can do anything they like,'' Francona said when asked how quiet things are and which player is the leader in the clubhouse during the rough stretch.
Crawford, signed to a $142 million, seven-year contract with the Red Sox in December after spending 12 years in Tampa Bay's organization, is off to a poor start, hitting .152 with no homers and one RBI.
The team's ERA is 6.77 and three of the starters are over 7.00 - Buchholz (7.20), Matsuzaka (12.86) and Lackey (15.58).
One of the new bullpen additions, Dan Wheeler, also signed from the Rays, has an ERA of 18.90 after four appearances, and gave up four runs in Monday's loss.
But Maddon can't imagine the Red Sox playing that way for much longer.
''Honestly, when we were 1-8, I wasn't concerned,'' he said. ''Even what the Red Sox are going through, there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to get back to what they're supposed to do. That's just how it is.''
When asked why, he didn't hesitate before answering.
''They're really good,'' he said. ''That's why they'll come out of it. You look at their lineup and the guys on their bench. They know how to win and they're not going to stay where they're at. There's no doubt in my mind they'll come out of it.''
Ortiz feels the same way.
''It's just a matter of time, things are gonna get better,'' he said. ''They can't get no worse.''
NOTES: Francona said LHP Dennys Reyes, designated for assignment on Friday, cleared waivers and will go to Florida and get some work before heading to Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Maddon said the rainout may actually help the Rays because Price threw 117 pitches on Tuesday and the extra day between starts would help him.