Red Sox left-handed hitters were the key to overcoming David Price

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During the regular season, Rays left-handed starter David Price was murder on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .489 OPS, the sixth-best OPS allowed to lefties among qualified starters. (The others: Chris Sale, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, C.J. Wilson, and Madison Bumgarner.) You wouldn’t have known it if you watched the left-handed side of the Red Sox lineup dismantle him tonight in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, a stolen base, and three runs scored.

David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two solo home runs.

Stephen Drew went 1-for-4 with an RBI triple.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits, four RBI, five runs, and a stolen base, representing almost all of the offense the Red Sox generated tonight against Price. They did it with aggression. Ellsbury saw a total of seven pitches in his first three at-bats in which he logged his three hits. Ortiz hit each of his two home runs on the second pitch of the at-bat. Drew swung at three of the first four pitches he saw before breaking through with the triple on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

On a night when starter John Lackey wasn’t at his best — he allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings — they needed everyone in the lineup to pitch in and they did. Every batter in the lineup reached base at least once, and Mike Napoli was the only one who didn’t finish with at least one hit (though he walked twice). But it was the lefties who really shone through and gave Lackey the support he desperately needed to walk away with the W.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.