Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays game preview
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz plays his final game at Tropicana Field on Sunday as the Boston Red Sox try for their 11th straight victory in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Boston clinched a postseason berth with Saturday night's victory, but the math was complicated enough that the Red Sox, who haven't won 10 straight in September since 1949, didn't celebrate anything more than a win in the clubhouse.
"We're here tomorrow, playing again," manager John Farrell said when asked about clinching a postseason berth.
Ortiz, who crushed a two-run homer in Friday's 2-1 victory, leaves Tropicana Field as the stadium's all-time leader among visiting players in several key statistical categories including home runs (35), RBIs (90), doubles (23) and extra-base hits (59), and is also second in hits with 115.
The Rays can play spoiler one more time in their final home game, giving their fans something positive to take away from a last-place finish this season.
Having right-hander Jake Odorizzi on the mound helps as he is 2-0 with a 1.01 ERA against Boston in four career starts at Tropicana Field. His overall career numbers against the Red Sox aren't as dominating -- 3-3, 4.05 in 12 starts, including a 1-1, 5.32 this season.
What Odorizzi has excelled at is earning no-decisions -- he has 16 this season, three more than any other pitcher in the majors. That includes 12 no-decisions in which he's allowed two runs or fewer, the most by any pitcher in any season as long as such statistics have been kept at baseballreference.com. Since the start of last season, he has 15 losses, and has 26 total runs of support in those games.
What's more, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.84 ERA) didn't fare well against the Rays in his last outing by allowing nine runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings of a June 27 loss. He's been much improved since the All-Star break, with a 3.21 ERA, and earned the victory against Baltimore on Tuesday, holding the Orioles to two runs in 6.1 innings.
"They are definitely the team to beat right now in my eyes," Rays reliever Danny Farquhar said after giving up a seventh-inning grand slam to Dustin Pedroia, who fouled off several pitches with two outs to dig out of an 0-2 hole and hit a huge home run.
Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East is three, so they can't pop the champagne Sunday, but could on their day off Monday, or in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium that starts Tuesday.