BOSTON (CBS) — Baseball is back in Boston, as the 5-1 Red Sox get set to take the field at Fenway Park for the first time in 2018.
After starting the year with six games in sunny Florida, the Red Sox are home for a 10-game homestand that will welcome the Rays, Yankees and Orioles to Boston. It’s just too bad they didn’t bring that warm Florida weather with them.
Up first is a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team they beat twice in three games down in St. Pete. Boston has won five straight after their Opening Day letdown against Tampa Bay, and will look to keep that streak going when David Price takes the mound for Thursday’s home opener.
Price got his 2018 campaign off on a great note last Friday with seven shutout innings against the Rays, allowing just four hits while striking out five. This is a huge year for Price, who is looking to put an injury and drama-riddled 2017 behind him. The best way to do that is to go out and pitch well, and he’s got another great chance to do just that against the light-hitting Rays on Thursday. Another solid outing, in front of Boston fans, would be a huge boost of confidence for the l$30 million efty.
The Rays will send righty Yonny Chirinos to the hill on Thursday, one of the two times they’ll give a reliever the start in the series against Boston (or as Kevin Cash is calling them, “Bullpen Days”). Chirinos pitched four scoreless innings against the Red Sox out of the Rays bullpen on Sunday, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out three.
As for Thursday’s home opener festivities, the Red Sox are asking fans to be in their seats by 1:15 p.m. for the pregame introductions and ceremonies. Hanscom Air Force Base will be presenting the colors and the national anthem will be performed by R&B/Soul artist Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters. The finishing touches will include a fly-over by four F-16’s from the 134th Fighter Squadron from Burlington, Vermont’s Air National Guard (“The Green Mountain Boys”).
After getting Friday off, the Red Sox and Rays will resume their series on Saturday afternoon with Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.69 ERA) toeing the rubber for Boston. Porcello twirled 5.1 innings of one-run ball against the Rays down in Florida, scattering six hits (only one of which went for extra bases) to go with six strikeouts. He’ll be opposed by Jake Faria, who allowed one run off four hits and three walks last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox at Tropicana Field.
As for Sunday, we don’t really know who will be pitching — for either team. The Red Sox have a trio of options, as Eduardo Rodriguez could be activated off the disabled list and make his 2018 debut after tossing six innings of an extended spring game last week. If he isn’t ready, Alex Cora can turn to either Hector Velazquez (1-0, 1.59 ERA) or Brian Johnson (1-0, 1.50 ERA) for the series finale. The Rays are going with another “Bullpen Day,” so fans could be in for a handful of pitching changes throughout the afternoon.
At least the weather is going to be nice, right?
Those chilly temps (and high winds on Thursday) don’t really bode well for a struggling Red Sox offense, which has scored just 21 runs and hit .240 in the first six games. But with the way their starting pitchers have been tossing the ball (no starter has allowed more than one run), Boston has managed to get by without many players crossing the plate.