Rays-Red Sox Preview
BOSTON -- David Price knows he hasn't lived up to expectation with the Boston Red Sox this year, but the former Tampa Bay Rays ace can begin to turn things around against his former team on Sunday.
Boston (48-38) is 10 games above .500 for the first time since June 19 but needs a classic Price start against Tampa Bay (34-53) to enter the All-Star break with six wins in seven games.
The five-time All-Star southpaw and 2012 Cy Young Award winner has been mediocre at best in the first season of a seven-year, $217 million contract with Boston, going 8-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 18 starts.
Price was a hard-luck loser last time out, giving up only three runs and eight hits while striking out 10 in eight innings in a 7-2 loss against Texas on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
"I'm tired of this," a weary Price shared after losing for the fifth time in his last seven starts, despite notching his eighth game with eight-plus punch outs. "It's not me. I've got to get better."
Against the Rays, Price is 0-1 with an unsightly 10.80 ERA in two starts this season. He's 1-3 with a 6.51 ERA lifetime in five outings against Tampa Bay.
Curt Casali has been a nightmare matchup for Price, going 6-for-11 (.545) with three home runs and five RBIs against him.
Evan Longoria is 3-for-15 (.200) with a home run and three RBIs against his old friend, and Steve Pearce (6-for-20, .300) has a home run and four RBIs.
The Rays, meanwhile, are spinning their wheels after losing for a franchise-worst 21st time in 24 games after Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Red Sox, which puts them in danger of losing six in a row heading into the break.
"We know what we're capable of doing," Rays left-hander Matt Moore said after taking the loss on Saturday. "Regardless of what just happened the last month, that sounds like a victim attitude. I don't think anybody in here is going to admit to that -- I know I won't."
Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 4.33) has had his share of struggles against the Red Sox, going 2-2 with a 4.07 ERA against them in nine starts.
The right-hander has faced Boston once already this year, lasting only four innings while allowing five runs and eight hits in an April 21 no-decision, a game the Rays won 12-8.
His numbers at Fenway aren't much better, going 1-2 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts at the ballpark.
Xander Bogaerts has proved to be a tough out for Odorizzi, going 7-for-16 (.438) with three walks while driving in two runs off him. David Ortiz is 3-for-20 (.150) with five strikeouts against him.
Boston could have used the bat of Brock Holt, 4-for-15 (.267) with a homer and four RBIs against Odorizzi, but the utility man is day to day with a left ankle sprain he sustained Friday.
The Rays and Red Sox will meet 10 more times in a span of 35 days from Aug. 22 to Sept. 25 to complete the 19-game season series between the American League East rivals.