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Rays 5, Red Sox 4: Bring on the Orioles

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays came into tonight’s contest on a three-game winning streak, but the vibes were suppressed by yet another injury. Rookie RHP Shane Baz was placed on the 15-day IL and will be shut down for one month with a right elbow sprain.

Drew Rasmussen got the start for the home team, trying to secure a four-game series sweep over division rivals Boston. Rasmussen entered the game with a 3.11 ERA over 66.2 innings. This would mark his first start against the Red Sox this season.

He was opposed by long-man Kutter Crawford, who was making just his fourth start of the season. Crawford has success against the Rays this season, pitching 8.1 shutout innings over 2 relief appearances, striking out 13, and walking 1.

The Red Sox got on the board first when All-Star third basemen Rafael Devers, who is dealing with a sore back, hit a slider just above the dirt into the right field seats for a solo home run.

Entering the sixth inning, Boston led 1-0, but managed to add two more against Rasmussen before he departed. Duran reached first on a single and was moved over to third before scoring on a wild pitch. J.D. Martinez then drew a walk before being doubled home by Xander Bogaerts to make it 3-0.

Despite the three earned runs, Rasmussen looked comfortable throughout and even racked up a few whiffs. His cutter, which on the season has a 26.5 Whiff%, had a 42 Whiff% on the night. Likewise, his fastball had a 32 Whiff% compared to his season number of 19.5%. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO.

His counterpart also finished with six innings pitched and three earned runs but looked just as sharp for most of the night. Kutter Crawford leaned on his four-seam fastball and cutter while mixing in his curveball 22% of the time to keep the Rays’ hitters off-balance. He struck out six and walked none, and didn’t run into trouble until the bottom of the seventh when his manager Alex Cora probably sent him out there for one too many innings.

Rookie infielder Jonathan Aranda kept his hot start at the plate going with a leadoff double to left, which was followed by a Christian Bethancourt single. Josh Lowe doubled home one run, moving Bethancourt to third, still with nobody out. Crawford made way for John Schreiber, who has been a lockdown reliever for the Red Sox this season, but Taylor Walls singled for the Rays fourth consecutive hit, bringing home two runs to tie it at three.

Luke Raley was this hit by a pitch, and Brett Phillips dropped down a sac bunt to give the Rays two more runners in scoring position with less than two outs. Sacrifice bunts are not something you typically see the Rays deploy, but when Brett Phillips has a sub-50 wRC+ on the season, you try and make those at bats productive any way you can. It paid off as Yandy Díaz chopped one over the head of Boston second basemen Jeter Downs to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.

After the departure of Rasmussen, Tommy Romero, Brooks Raley, and Jason Adam combined for two shutout innings to send the Rays to the ninth with a two-run lead. Enter Jalen Beeks. While he struggled and let the Red Sox not only add one run, but two more baserunners on (the potential tying and go-ahead runs), he was able to strike out Bobby Dalbec for out number two, and get Jeter Downs to groundout to end the game.

The Rays have now won four straight, and welcome in the red-hot Baltimore Orioles for a three-game series this weekend. After the game, Kevin Cash announced that RHP Luis Patiño would be activated to start Friday’s game, although it’s expected that Patiño is not fully stretched out. RHP Luke Bard replaced Shane Baz on the active roster and will be expected to help cover innings this weekend before the All-Star Break.