Rays look to break out the offense against Red Sox

Field Level Media

June 04, 2023 at 10:38 am.

The Tampa Bay Rays have seen 19 of their past 28 games decided by two or fewer runs.

The trend has followed the Rays to Boston, where American League-leading Tampa Bay will look for its second straight win over the division rival Red Sox as a four-game series continues Sunday afternoon.

Harold Ramirez’s two-run double in the top of the ninth inning helped the Rays split Saturday’s doubleheader with a 4-2 victory after the Red Sox began the twinbill with an 8-5 win, moving ahead on a three-run double by Justin Turner in the sixth.

“It’s part of the game,” Ramirez said of the Rays grinding out offense of late. “Sometimes we can hit, sometimes not. Today we just had a good day, so let’s get them (Sunday).”

Ramirez has 12 RBIs over his past 16 games, including the 11th go-ahead RBI of his career in the ninth inning or later.

The Rays are just 2-3 in their past five games, scoring five runs or less in all of them.

After piecing together their pitching plans for both of Saturday’s games, both teams will turn to regularly scheduled starters.

Rays right-hander Taj Bradley (3-2, 3.60 ERA) will start against the team he opposed in his MLB debut on April 12. He struck out eight in five innings of three-run ball, helping the Rays in their four-game series sweep.

Bradley lost his most recent start on Memorial Day despite not allowing an earned run through 5 2/3 innings of a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

“We’ve seen him a handful of times,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “(Monday) might have been the best that I’ve personally seen him. He pitched a heck of a ballgame.”

The 22-year-old Bradley has 42 strikeouts over his first six starts with the Rays.

The teams combined to use 10 pitchers in Saturday’s nightcap, and it ended with bad news on the injury front for Boston as Joely Rodriguez was unable to pitch due to a biceps injury sustained while warming up.

On the offensive side, Boston was held to two runs on five hits. Triston Casas had a double and a triple.

Turner, 38, was the hero of the earlier game, which was his second straight multi-hit effort.

“He’s a good player. He’s a good influence on the kids,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

Tanner Houck (3-4, 5.30) is set to take the ball for the Red Sox. The right-hander was scheduled to start Saturday before Friday’s original series opener was postponed due to weather.

Houck allowed four runs in four innings last Sunday in a loss against Arizona, marking only the second time in 10 starts this season that he did not complete five frames.

“I see it as an opportunity to keep working,” Houck said of remaining in Boston’s starting rotation. “I always want to be the best version of myself, but knowing you have that confidence and that backing also makes you even more motivated.”

Houck owns a 3.52 ERA in three career appearances (one start) against Tampa Bay.

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