As the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays prepare to start a series against each other for the second straight week, both are looking to improve on tough weeks.
The American League East rivals will begin a four-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday, just one week after meeting for three games in Boston.
After dropping two of three at home against Tampa Bay, Boston needed to win two straight games to earn a split of its four-game series with the visiting New York Yankees.
The Red Sox overcame a four-run deficit and scored nine consecutive runs Sunday night, highlighted by Trevor Story’s three-run double, in an 11-6 victory.
They finished the week 3-4 against their division foes.
Manager Alex Cora will send out right-hander Brayan Bello (0-1, 9.00) on Monday in what will be his second career start.
Bello, a native of the Dominican Republic, made his debut against the Rays on Wednesday and struggled with command. Tampa Bay got to the fireballer for four runs and six hits in four innings.
Bello, 23, has an upper-90s fastball. That velocity helped him go 10-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester.
With seven-time All-Star Chris Sale starting Tuesday, Bello was likely ticketed back to Worcester.
However, instead of returning to the rotation over the weekend, Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 15-day injured list Friday, retroactive to July 5.
“He was good. You saw the stuff,” Cora said of Bello. “The changeup was probably the pitch that was off. Tomorrow, he’ll relax and breathe a little bit and maybe he’ll be better.”
Rafael Devers was selected as the AL’s starting third baseman for the All-Star Game, and Xander Bogaerts was chosen as a reserve.
Tampa Bay ran into big trouble in Cincinnati against the last-place Reds, losing the first two games in extra innings and 10-5 Sunday.
Not only did manager Kevin Cash’s group get swept, but star shortstop Wander Franco (right wrist discomfort) and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (left hip inflammation) were placed on the 10-day IL after Saturday’s second straight walk-off defeat.
The Rays lost Friday’s game when Matt Wisler was called for a balk in the 10th inning. It marked the 23rd time in major league history that a team lost on a walk-off balk.
The sweep left Tampa Bay at 5-6 to conclude its season-long 11-game road trip with a 5-6 mark.
Additionally, the club placed starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs (right lower-leg tightness) on the 15-day injured list Sunday.
“We’ve got guys who are getting their first consistent reps in the big leagues,” Cash said of the replacements. “The injuries are the toughest thing. We looked at our lineup at the end of (Sunday’s) game. When you’re missing five everyday players, you’re going to see the effects of it.”
Wisler (2-3, 2.58) will serve as the opener Monday, while call-up Josh Fleming (2-4, 6.17) will follow in a bulk-innings role. The lefty Fleming is 1-2 with a 9.68 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against Boston.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Tampa Bay ace Shane McClanahan (9-3, 1.73) was named to his first AL All-Star team.
The sophomore southpaw leads the junior circuit in ERA, strikeouts (141) and WHIP (0.81).
–Field Level Media