Maybe it’s time we stop talking about the Rays as sellers? Just a thought.
The Rays rolled to their eighth straight win last night with a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. The game featured a great pitching matchup between David Price and Jon Lester, two names who have surfaced in trade rumors in recent weeks. The Rays actually trailed in this one until they rallied against Boston’s bullpen in the seventh inning. Ben Zobrist tied things up with an RBI single before Evan Longoria delivered a bases-clearing double down the left field line to put the Rays in front for good.
Price allowed three runs over eight innings and struck out 10 batters. He has now gone at least eight innings in eight out of his last nine starts.
On the strength of their recent hot streak, the Rays are now 50-53 for the year. This is the closest they have been to .500 since early May. They currently sit 7 1/2 games back of the first-place Orioles in the American League East and 4 1/2 back for one of the Wild Card spots.
Your Friday box scores:
Red Sox 4, Rays 6
Cardinals 6, Cubs 7
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 6
Diamondbacks 5, Phillies 9
Athletics 1, Rangers 4
Nationals 4, Reds 1
Indians 4, Royals 6
Padres 5, Braves 2
Marlins 2, Astros 0
White Sox 9, Twins 5
Mets 3, Brewers 2
Pirates 1, Rockies 8
Tigers 1, Angels 2
Dodgers 8, Giants 1
Orioles 2, Mariners 1 (10 innings)
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.