The Tampa Bay Rays look to continue their resurgence as they take on the host Boston Red Sox in the second contest of a four-game series Tuesday night.
The Rays moved back over .500 for the first time since July 30 with an 8-7 victory in the series opener Monday. The win was Tampa Bay’s first on the road this season (1-5) and fourth in its past five games overall.
The Red Sox are 3-2 in their past five games, though they still remain in the cellar of the AL East.
Right-hander Andrew Kittredge (0-0, 2.35 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay on Tuesday after throwing 16 pitches in earning his first career save Monday night. Left-hander Martin Perez (2-1, 3.45) will take the mound for Boston.
Monday’s meeting between the clubs was grueling for both sides at 4 hours, 24 minutes. The Rays had a season-high 16 hits and added eight walks, needing every bit of that firepower to stave off the threat of a Red Sox comeback.
“Lot of offense today, which is encouraging,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “(Manuel) Margot is probably at the top of the list. We all wanted him to have a big game, and he did.”
Margot, who entered the game at 3-for-33 on the season, more than doubled his hit total by going 4-for-4. He combined with Kevin Kiermaier (2-for-4, three RBIs) and Michael Perez (2-for-5, two RBIs) to go 8-for-13 from the bottom third of the lineup. The surprise production helped Tampa Bay end a stretch of 12 consecutive games scoring five runs or fewer.
On the other side, the Red Sox’s pitching staff was worn out all night. As part of a bullpen game, six arms took the mound for Boston, combining to throw 199 pitches. Only once did a Red Sox pitcher face the minimum in an inning, when Dylan Covey was assisted by a double-play grounder in the top of the ninth.
“If we feel like we can’t get by with the arms we have, we’ll grab somebody,” said manager Ron Roenicke, hinting at a roster move Tuesday to get a fresh arm in the mix. “Hopefully Martin gives us a lot of innings.”
Perez will look for a repeat of his last performance, in which he threw five scoreless frames to earn the win in an eventual shutout of Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The southpaw has gone at least five innings in each of his starts, though he has walked nine in his 15 2/3 innings.
Perez is 1-4 with a 6.10 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against the Rays.
Kittredge, meanwhile, will get his first start of the season after making seven a year ago. The righty worked around a one-out single in securing the save Monday night.
Kittredge was spared from facing the Red Sox’s hottest hitter, Mitch Moreland, who wasn’t utilized as a pinch hitter in the inning due to a knee injury.
“I think he’s planning on being OK for (Tuesday),” Roenicke said.
Boston third baseman Rafael Devers (ankle) was also unavailable.
–Field Level Media