MLB

Red Sox-Rays Preview

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays are reeling from an 11-game losing streak, their longest since 2009.

All of those losses have come against division-leading teams, but they'll have a chance at redemption against another one of the American League's premier teams as they open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.

"We'll continue to look at some positives, the way the offense battled back ... a lot of guys swung the bats well," manager Kevin Cash said after a 12-5 loss to the Orioles on Sunday to complete a sweep at Baltimore.

"We pieced together our hits. We just have to be able to prevent them from scoring runs, which we did not."

The Rays have the third-longest losing streak in franchise history, and for division rivals, Tampa Bay and Boston don't know each other well this season.

The two teams have met only three times in 2016 -- the Rays took two of three in Boston earlier this season -- while Boston has played Toronto 13 times and Baltimore 10. That means they'll be seeing plenty of each other the rest of the way.

Boston is trying to bounce back as well, having split a four-game series at Texas, including a 6-2 loss on Sunday.

"Everybody goes through ups and downs," said Boston's Clay Buchholz, who gave up five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings during Sunday's loss. "Everybody in this clubhouse, they work as hard anybody to be good and be where they want to be. That's part of the game. You run into guys playing as well as these (Rangers) are, it's tough to make mistakes and win baseball games."

The Rays know that well -- they've allowed at least five runs in all 11 losses, with starting pitching and the bullpen struggling along the way.

They'll try to stop the skid Monday with rookie LHP Blake Snell, who is 0-2 with a 2.40 ERA in his brief time in the majors. Boston will counter with fellow lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA.

The Rays are trying to play through a ridiculous run of injuries -- outfielders Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Guyer, Steven Souza and Mikie Mahtook are on the disabled list, as is their batting leader in first baseman and designated hitter Steve Pearce.

The team acquired outfielder Oswaldo Arcia from Minnesota last week, and he went 3-for-7 in the weekend series with four RBIs.

That's better production in his first seven at-bats than Mahtook, who has three RBIs in 65 at-bats, or rookie Taylor Motter, who has two in 51 at-bats.

Both teams have hot bats they'll count on -- Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria has 23 RBIs in his last 26 games and Boston's Xander Bogaerts has 24 in his last 27. The Rays will see a familiar face in Wednesday's series finale with David Price (8-4, 4.68 ERA) pitching against his old team.

Boston hopes to get utility man Brock Holt back for this series as well -- he's been out since early May with a concussion, but went 3-for-4 in his last rehab game for Triple-A Pawtucket. Boston has tried seven left fielders in his absence, so his return would be a big boost for the Red Sox.

"To say that once he comes back, he's good to play five, six times a week, that might be a little aggressive right now," manager John Farrell said.

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