The Red Sox will be in Tampa Bay for the next three days as they battle for first place with the Rays. Both teams are having a great 2021 season. Right now, the Rays are 0.5 games back of Boston, who took over first place in the American League East this past weekend. After three games, the standings may look a bit different. Either Boston will remain in first, or the Rays will reclaim the top shelf.
This will be a series to remember after Thursday’s game. The Rays top prospect, Wander Franco, will be making his Major League debut against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. His highly anticipated debut will come with a lot of pressure, as all eyes will be on him. The 20-year-old shortstop has been tearing it up in AAA Durham. He has a .315 average in 39 games with 7 homeruns. The Rays hope he can continue his success in the Major Leagues.
The Red Sox Battle For First Place Matchups
Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball in game one for Boston against the Rays’ Andrew Kittredge. Rodriguez is 5-4 on the season with a 6.21 ERA in 13 games. Last time out for E-Rod was a no decision in Atlanta. He went 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, while striking out 8. Kittredge is 5-1 with a 1.34 in 2021. He got the no decision his last time out vs Seattle, only going 1.1 innings, and had one strikeout.
Wednesday’s game will feature Garrett Richards vs Rich Hill. Richards is 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA this season. His last start came against Atlanta, where he went 4 innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs while striking out 3. Former Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill will be going in game 2 for Tampa. He’s 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA this season. He went 5 innings in his last game vs Seattle, where he allowed 6 hits, 4 runs and had 5 strikeouts.
Thursday’s final game will have Nick Pivetta for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter for the game. Pivetta is currently 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA. He took the loss against Kansas City on June 18th. He went 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, and three runs while striking out 6 batters.
Players To Watch In The Series
While the world will have their eyes on Wander Franco, there are some other players to take note of in this series. Tampa Bay third baseman, Joey Wendle, has been doing great so far this season. The 31-year-old leads the team in five categories, including batting average and doubles. Currently, he has a .292 average, with 19 doubles on the season. He also has a slugging percentage of .491 and an on base percentage of .841. Even though he has 5 stolen bases on the season, he also has been caught 5 times, which leads the team. All in all, Wendle might be the difference maker for Tampa as they battle for first place.
Another player to take note of in the series is Red Sox starter, Nick Pivetta. In 14 games this season, he is 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA and has 86 strikeouts. The 28-year-old starter has the most strikeouts on the team, and batters are hitting .231 against him, which is the lowest of all the Red Sox pitchers. Pivetta started the season by winning six games in ten starts before getting the loss in June vs the Astros. Pivetta looks to get his first win of June against Tampa on Thursday.
All Star Game Update
Voting for the 2021 All Star Game concludes on Thursday. Right now, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez are slated to represent the Red Sox in Colorado on July 13th. Both Devers and Bogaerts are leading in their categories, while Martinez is in second place, behind Angels designated hitter, Shohei Ohtani. Alex Verdugo is currently in eighth place in the All Star Game voting, behind Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Byron Buxton. This will be Devers’ first All Star game, while Bogaerts will be making his third appearance, and Martinez will be making his fourth.
This looks to be an interesting All Star game for sure, as two former Colorado Rockies players may be on the roster. DJ LeMehieu is in third place to play second base in the American League. LeMehieu played for Colorado from 2012 to 2018 before signing with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season. Former Rockies star, Nolan Arenado, is in second place for the National League third basemen behind Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Arenado is in his first season with the Cardinals after being traded this past offseason. Arenado was drafted by Colorado, and was their third baseman from 2013 to 2020. His cousin, Joshua Fuentes is the current third baseman for the Rockies.