The Boston Red Sox will be dealing with the most powerful team in baseball Friday night when they open a four-game series against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays, who swept a four-game home series against the Red Sox in April, enter the weekend with 103 home runs, the most by any major league team. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second with 96.
Tampa Bay's power isn't the only thing that should have Red Sox fans worried. Boston ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-2 Thursday but may have lost left-hander Chris Sale in the process. Sale left the mound in the fourth inning with soreness in his left shoulder.
"He'll have an MRI (Friday) and we'll know more," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "Hoping for the best. Obviously it didn't look great. (Velocity) was down in the second inning ... it went from 95 to 90, so let's wait and see.
"He wanted to finish it (the inning), but nah. Give it a shot, but after that you can't be irresponsible.
"Overall a good W. We needed that one. Now we have to be ready for (Tampa Bay)."
The Rays are coming off Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. A loss would have resulted in Tampa Bay's first three-game losing streak.
Brandon Lowe hit a two-run, game-tying home run in the seventh inning, and Jose Siri followed with a two-run homer in the eighth that erased Chicago's 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay's offense was dormant in the first two games against the Cubs. The Rays were shut out 1-0 on one hit Monday and were contained in a 2-1 setback Tuesday. Tampa Bay had one hit through the first six innings of Wednesday's win.
"Home runs kind of energize everybody," Lowe said. "I feel like any time you score runs, you kind of put a little oomph in your step."
The Rays have five players who have hit at least 10 home runs. Yandy Diaz leads the way with 12.
What makes the offense extra special is the Rays also lead the major leagues with 77 stolen bases. Tampa Bay has been caught stealing 16 times.
Garrett Whitlock (2-2, 5.14 ERA) is the Boston pitcher who will try to tame the Tampa Bay bats Friday. Against the Rays, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, allowing nine earned runs over seven career appearances (two starts).
Right-hander Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 6.23) is scheduled to be Tampa Bay's starting pitcher. Glasnow, who missed the start of the season with a strained oblique muscle, made his season debut Saturday in a 6-5 loss to the Dodgers. He allowed three runs on five hits, struck out eight and walked one in 4 1/3 innings.
Glasnow is 2-1 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox.
The teams will play a split doubleheader Saturday before wrapping up the series Sunday.
--Field Level Media