The Tampa Bay Rays celebrated their twenty year celebration and reunion this past weekend while the Red Sox were in town for the first series of the year. It was a nice celebration as they brought in many of the players who donned the uniforms of that first team. They were a combination of players who were put on the expansion draft list of other teams who no longer had any use for them.
Except for the first game of the series when the Rays came from behind to beat the Red Sox with a bad relief performance from Joe Kelly, the Sox won the next three games. However the Rays did play tough against the Sox in those four games with good pitching and decent defense. They were definitely overmatched by the the Red Sox starters and by the incredible pitching of Craig Kimbrel who saved two of the last three games.
Tampa was also dazzled by the pitching of Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello who were in mid-season form. The Rays are not a very good team overall and will lose a lot of games this year. The Red Sox lineup was not in mid-season form and could not put a big inning together in any of the four games. That will change as they play each other another fifteen games or so.
Bogaerts looked like his old self banging out four doubles but you could see the timing of the rest of the lineup was just not there yet. JD Martinez seemed to be pull-happy except for the one at bat he went to right field. His double was the hardest ball he hit in all four games. I do think it was a good break for the Red Sox to play indoors and against a poor team to open the season.
The Red Sox lineup is very good. They will hit; especially at Fenway. In fact they’re a very good team period. If they stay healthy and the starters can get them deep into games it will be a very successful season. When the middle relievers and their eighth inning set-up man gets established and pitches well they will win a lot of games and should be a playoff team. Just because they play these bad teams doesn’t mean it will be a cake walk for the Red Sox. They did what they had to do winning three of the four games. It’s what they’re supposed to do against bad teams. If they didn’t then there would be something to worry about.