Boston will try to break the divisional slump and even up the four-game series with the Rays in the second game in Tampa, on Tuesday. The Sox will also try to hold onto the top Wild Card spot and second place in the AL East.
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Tuesday, July 12, 2022 – 07:10 PM EDT at Tropicana Field
Series Opener Recap
The newly hot Red Sox and suddenly slumping Rays met in Tampa on Monday, and things went back to business as usual. The Rays scored two in the first, three in the second and never looked back, beating Boston 10-5.
The Red Sox have gone 11-21, .344 against fellow American League East teams, 0-8-1 in series against their divisional rivals. They are 26-19, .578, against everyone else. Boston has a losing record against all four AL East foes. Only two other teams in all of baseball have a winning record against the Sox.
Boston could be welcoming back two very important members of the team on Tuesday. Third baseman Rafael Devers, an All-Star starter and MVP candidate, has missed the last three games with lower back pain. The team was hesitant to bring him back Monday on Tampa’s artificial turf, but officials sounded more willing to have him return to play in Tuesday’s game.
Devers leads the Sox in batting, home runs, OPS+, doubles, runs and WAR. So he’ll be a welcome addition when he gets back onto the field.
The team has waited even longer for Tuesday’s scheduled starting pitcher. Chris Sale, is set to make his 2022 season debut. Sale missed all of 2020 and most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery before going 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA down the stretch last year. The 33-year-old then fractured a rib during spring training and has spent the last four months recovering.
Sale made four minor league rehab starts, including one where he was caught on film smashing things in the tunnel leading to the dugout in frustration with his performance. He struck out 19 minor leaguers in 11.1 innings, however, and appears ready to take his spot atop the Boston rotation, which recently started rookie pitchers in four consecutive games.
"Obviously, last year we saw the difference and he wasn't even near where he's at now arm-wise," manager Alex Cora said of the team getting a boost from Sale’s return. "Now, it's far from the surgery, and he should be OK. I know he's excited."
Sale is expected to be on a pitch count of around 85 for his return on Tuesday.
Bouncing Back Against Boston
After a frustrating three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place Cincinnati Reds, the Rays got back on the winning trail Monday against Boston. Tampa has won six of its last seven against AL East rivals.
Yandy Diaz was the hero on Monday, getting three hits, three RBIs and three runs in the win. Diaz now has 10 multi-hit games in the last two weeks and is hitting .500 over his last 15 games, with at least one hit in 14 of them.
"A lot of times in this game you hit the ball hard and you get nothing to show for it," said Diaz. "Now I'm hitting balls that are falling in for hits."
The Rays got some bad news in Monday’s game when reliever and spot starter Josh Fleming was forced to leave the game with oblique tightness.
Tampa will start Corey Kluber on Tuesday. He is 4-5, 3.62 ERA on the year. He beat the Red Sox with six shutout innings the last time out.
The Red Sox will get a boost with Sale’s return, but it will be his first time facing Major League hitters since last October. He won his first game back after a prolonged absence last season, but that was against the last-place Orioles.
The Lakeland, FL native will be starting in his old
MLB Pick: Rays (+105) with BetOnline
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