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Series Preview: Rays head to Boston for Fenway’s home opener

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It’s a rematch one week in the making.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like it were only yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays were facing the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day. The excitement of a new season and a heroic homecoming for Denard Span were fresh in mind. Now the Rays are coming off five straight losses. Three one-run losses and then two beatings in New York.

The Rays Opening Week tour heads to Boston, where Fenway Park’s home opener is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The Rays lost three of four to the Red Sox to start the season in a tightly contested series.

The Matchups:

Thursday 2:05 PM: Bullpen (Yonny Chirinos) vs David Price
Saturday 1:05 PM: Jacob Faria vs Rick Porcello
Sunday 1:05 PM: Bullpen (TBD) vs Hector Velazquez

Yonny Chirinos will make his first major league start. The Rays have a rare Friday off day to protect the home opener, but there should be no weather-related issues. It will be cold, so maybe Kevin Kiermaier will remember to put on his Vaseline coating this time.

Rays vs David Price Round 2

Red Sox Starters Last 3+ Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
David Price 79 532.0 24.5% 5.6% 0.93 3.21 3.24
Rick Porcello 95 603.2 20.6% 4.7% 1.28 4.14 4.00
Hector Velazquez 4 24.2 20.2% 6.7% 1.48 2.67 4.47

The Rays offense didn’t fare well against the Red Sox starters in the Opening Series. The Rays scratched across two runs in four games against Red Sox starters. Fortunately the Rays won’t have to face Chris Sale, but do have to face former Cy Young Award winners David Price and Rick Porcello in the first two games.

Price went seven scoreless innings in his first start of the year versus the Rays. Price scattered four hits while collecting five strikeouts without walking a batter.

The Rays offense had opportunities against Porcello, but were only able to score one run in 5.1 innings.

Hector Velazquez held the Rays to a lone run on — a solo homer by Brad Miller — in 5.2 innings. Velazquez will be making his fifth career start.

Craig Kimbrel is great.

Red Sox Relievers Last 3+ Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Craig Kimbrel 188 184.1 41.40% 9.40% 0.78 2.34 2.27
Carson Smith 84 81 31.40% 7.90% 0.22 2.33 2.11
Matt Barnes 168 183 25.00% 9.90% 1.08 4.28 3.93
Joe Kelly 102 235.2 20.80% 10.10% 0.88 4.47 4.03
Heath Hembree 125 142.2 22.40% 7.30% 1.32 3.15 4.09
Bobby Poyner 3 2.2 30.00% 0.00% 3.38 3.38 5.59
Marcus Walden 2 3.1 6.30% 6.30% 0 5.4 4.16

Kimbrel got the year started similarly to how most of his appearances against the Rays ended last year. Three batters faced. Three strikeouts.

While the Rays weren’t able to get much across the plate against the Boston starting rotation, they were able to score seven runs against the bullpen.

Somebody please get Xander Bogaerts out.

Red Sox Batters Last 3+ Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
JD Martinez 1685 105 8 9.3% 26.2% 0.294 0.361 0.576 0.391 145
Mookie Betts 2121 74 74 8.2% 11.4% 0.292 0.351 0.492 0.358 122
Rafael Devers 263 10 3 7.2% 23.2% 0.287 0.338 0.480 0.345 113
Jackie Bradley Jr. 1452 53 21 9.7% 23.3% 0.254 0.336 0.452 0.337 108
Xander Bogaerts 2036 39 38 7.2% 16.9% 0.297 0.352 0.428 0.338 108
Andrew Benintendi 800 22 22 10.6% 17.5% 0.271 0.352 0.425 0.333 104
Hanley Ramirez 1627 73 18 8.2% 19.2% 0.261 0.328 0.458 0.335 106
Eduardo Nunez 1312 33 72 4.5% 13.3% 0.295 0.330 0.444 0.331 106
Mitch Moreland 1604 67 2 7.8% 21.8% 0.251 0.317 0.446 0.325 99
Blake Swihart 395 5 4 8.1% 24.8% 0.270 0.331 0.382 0.314 93
Brock Holt 1005 9 14 9.5% 18.9% 0.258 0.333 0.357 0.306 87
Sandy Leon 717 14 0 7.7% 23.7% 0.251 0.312 0.374 0.298 80
Christian Vazquez 548 6 7 4.9% 19.0% 0.268 0.312 0.370 0.296 79

During the first series, the Rays held the Boston lineup to ten runs over four games. Xander Bogaerts seemed to have multiple extra base hits every game. If it weren’t for Bogaerts the Red Sox offense might’ve looked worse than the Rays’.

Boston’s big acquisition has gotten off to a slow start. J.D. Martinez is hitting .200/.273/.250 and putting up a 48 wRC+. It’s only 22 plate appearances, but the Rays were able to limit the damage from their middle of the batting order.

Through the first week Xander Bogaerts (183 wRC+), Mookie Betts (181 wRC+), Hanley Ramirez (141 wRC+), and Rafael Devers (126 wRC+) have led the way on the offfensive side of the ball.

J.D. Martinez (48 wRC+), Andrew Benintendi (44 wRC+), Jackie Bradley Jr. (26 wRC+), and Mitch Moreland (-78 wRC+) have gotten off to slow starts.

Maybe the Rays offense can put up a few more runs at Fenway.

The Rays offense only managed nine runs in the four game series to start the year. If it wasn’t for a bases loaded triple by Denard Span on opening day the Rays might still be winless for the season.