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Tampa Bay Rays Jose Siri (22) and left fielder Randy Arozarena (56) celebrate after a two run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Quinn Harris)

Rays Travel to Boston for AL East Matchup

The Tampa Bay Rays (40-18) travel to Fenway Park for a four game series against the Boston Red Sox (29-27). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

Game 1

Tampa Bay right-hander Tyler Glasnow takes the mound against righty Garrett Whitlock. It’ll be Glasnow’s second start since his Grade 2 left-oblique strain he suffered in February.

The six-foot-eight-inch pitcher began his rehab assignment May 5 and the Rays have been carefully managing his injury. He threw 4.1 innings, eight strikeouts and surrendered three runs and five hits in his first outing of the year against the Dodgers.

Whitlock makes his fifth start of the year after taking nearly the entirety of May off. The Sox placed Whitlock on the injury list with right elbow ulnar neuritis in early May, fearing the righty would be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. However, Whitlock’s follow-up revealed no ulnar nerve symptoms and the righty was back to throwing later that week. He is 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA entering Friday.

Saturday Doubleheader

Saturday will feature a rare scheduled doubleheader, and there is no announcement as of yet for who will make the starts for each teams. The first game starts at 1:10 p.m., and game two is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

Game 4 (Sunday)

Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. matchup will feature a duel between two young right-handers. Tampa Bay’s Taj Bradley Jr. (22) and Boston’s Brayan Bello (24) will faceoff. Bradley — the Rays’ No. 1 prospect entering the 2023 season — is making his second start against the Red Sox after making his MLB debut against Boston April 12. He picked up the win, striking out eight batter in five innings of work.

 

On the other hand, Bello is making his first start against the Rays since the 2022 season. Last year, he survived eight innings total in his two starts against the Rays, surrendering nine runs for a 9.57 ERA.

Players to Watch For

The Rays have arguably the best offense in baseball and rank second in runs scored and first in home runs and OPS behind four main sluggers: Wander Franco, Josh Lowe, Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena.

Franco had lofty expectations when he was signed by the Rays in 2017, and the shortstop is blossoming into MLB’s next young-star. The 22-year-old is hitting .298 with an .844 OPS, and he leads the team in steals with 20. Though, he is experiencing some shoulder discomfort but the Rays expect him to be fine for the weekend.

No one expected Lowe to have the type of season he’s been having, hitting just .220 with two home runs last season. Though, he’s surged into a completely different performer this year. Lowe is hitting 11 home runs with a .304 average and .936 OPS.

The Rays acquired Diaz in an offseason trade in 2018. Now, he’s on pace for the best season of his career. The Cuban infielder has a .310 batting average and 47 games into the season, he has 12 home runs. Moreover, his .990 OPS also ranks third on the MLB’s leaderboards.

Arozarena has always been a highlight performer for the Rays; especially with his breakout postseason run during the shortened 2020 season. This year, he’s elevated his play to another level. The left fielder is hitting .297 and is top 10 in OBP, OPS and RBIs. Also, Arozarena leads the team in RBIs with 40.

The Red Sox have kept their heads afloat and are sitting just above .500 going into Friday’s series while the Rays are first in the AL East division with 40 wins. The series begins Friday at 7:10 p.m.

About Luke Adragna

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