Game 125: Tampa Bay Rays at Red Sox (August 19, 2018)

On Sunday afternoon the Sox wrapped up their series against the Rays with a matinee tilt. Hector Velazquez was starting for the newly injured Chris Sale and with the team having already won the series by taking the first two games, there wasn't any pressure. A big series against the Cleveland Indians follows this one so while getting the sweep of the Rays was the goal, it wasn't crucial. Still, Velazquez has been solid this season so a sweep was entirely in the realm of possibility as long as the bats did what they've been doing thus far in the series.

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Unfortunately, there wasn't much action at the plate in this game and what little action there was came from the Tampa bats. The Rays outhit the Sox 4-2, but it was only two of their hits that hurt Boston. Joey Wendle hit a solo homer off of Velazquez of the second inning and CJ Cron hit one off of Matt Barnes in the ninth. That was all the offense in this game as the Sox went down with a whimper to the final score of 2-0. Velazquez wasn't terrible...he only gave up a single run in his four innings of work although he did walk three and only strike out two. Three of the four Tampa hits came off of him while the other (Cron's home run) came off of Barnes. The trio of Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, and Heath Hembree held the Rays hitless but got no run support. It was former Red Sox pitcher Jalen Beeks (who was sent over in the Nathan Eovaldi trade in late July) who pitched the longest for the Rays and although he wasn't spectacular (four innings, one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts) it was enough to shut down the Sox on such an anemic day at the plate. The only two Red Sox hits came off the bats of Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts...otherwise, it was a game to forget all around.

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In a weird scheduling quirk, the Red Sox will face the Indians for the very first time this season 126 games into it. While Cleveland plays in the worst division in all of baseball and aren't as dominant as they were in 2016 and 2017, they're in first place and are still a very talented and well managed team. Alex Cora will face off against old friend Terry Francona in a match of two great managers and with Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and Corey Kluber facing off in the series opener, it should be a great four games pitting two of the top teams in the American League against each other. 

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