• Tonight August 30th, 7:pm. ESPN
  • 4 game series (Tropicana Field)

The Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays open a crucial 4 game series tonight in St. Petersburg where the Rays hold a 7–5 edge over the Red Sox in the season series.

This year, the road team has dominated the season series between these teams. The Red Sox are 4–2 against the Rays at Fenway Park, while the Rays hold a 5–1 record against Boston at Tropicana Field.

Starting Pitchers

The pitching matchup is Louis Petino (3–3, 4.53 ERA) against Nick Pevetta(9–6, 4.57 ERA)

Pivetta 28, is in his 5th Major League season, and second with the Boston Red Sox, having come over from the Phillies in 2020. Coming over from the National League, this is just his third start against Tampa Bay, all in 2021. He’s 1–1 so far against the Rays and 0–1 at the Trop. He is making his first start since coming off the IL(injured list, with a case of Covid-19. Ironically, his individual season mirrors that of his entire Red Sox team. He began the season red hot winning his first 5 starts, and is only 4–6 since. The Red Sox got off to a league-best 22–14 record through the first 36 games and stayed in first for the majority of the season until being swept by the Rays on August 1st on the West Coast of Florida.

On the other side is Luis Petino, making his 12 career start in the majors at the age of 21. He carries his .500 record through six starts this season into tonight’s series opener against Boston. Even though Petino is the starter the Rays are often deceptive in their innovative relief opener strategy that they began with former reliever Sergio Romo back in 2018, and its hard to predict how long their starters will pitch into the game, making it tough for the opposition to prepare and strategize.

Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays

I like Pevetta in this matchup in the early innings, but not in the game. Louis Petino has been less than impressive this season, and although he is 1–0 against Boston this year, an 8–4 win on August 10th, he allowed 6 hits, two home runs, and 4 runs allowed, with 7 strikeouts. Rather average stats. Pevetta on the hand no-hit the Rays in a game on June 24th before being pulled after 6.2 innings of work, likely due to fatigue after throwing over 100 pitches in the game. The Rays actually ended up winning the game 8–4.

I think the more experienced Pevetta will outperform the younger Petino in the early innings, having proven earlier in the year he has the ability to get into a comfort zone against the Rays. Petino will play better in this game than when he faced Boston earlier this month but it won’t be enough. Look for him to get pulled around the 5th inning, with his team trailing by one or two runs. Pavetta wins this matchup giving Boston a shot late in the game.

Players to Watch

For Tampa Bay:

Wander Franco – The 20-year-old rookie phenom has an on-base streak of 29 straight games, the 2nd longest by a player under the age of 21 in American League history. He hit his first career Major League home run, a three-run blast against Boston in a loss to the Red Sox on June 22.

Joey Wendle – The Rays clean-up man for the Rays hit two home runs Sunday against Baltimore including a grand-slam. Known for his ability to get on base, and do all the little things to win, I‘ve always felt he does for Tampa what Bret Gardner often does for the Yankees.

For Boston:

J.D. Martinez – I’ll never forget the long throw he made to get a Rays runner out at third base in a game last season. Always look for J.D. to surprise you on the defensive side, something often overlooked by his explosive at-batts at the plate.

Chris Sale – Tonight’s the national game but we’re thinking about the whole series. Just recently activated off the IL, Sale is scheduled to start Wednesday to tried iron out some lingering questions that have come to light on the Boston pitching staff.

Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays Prediction | And the Winner is…

Tampa Bay! Petino doesn’t have to be perfect for Tampa Bay to win this game. Even if he falls behind early, if he holds down the fort to keep his team within a manageable deficit late in the game, I think the Rays pull this one out. Tampa Bay has 41 come-from-behind wins this season, tops in the majors. They are a resilient group that plays well late in games. Look for Rays’ newcomer Nelson Cruz to come up with a big hit late, reminding everyone why he was such a key pick-up for this team at the trade deadline.