Rain washed away Thursday night’s game against the Rays. And with a makeup date of Monday, the Red Sox may again face Tampa Bay ace David Price.
Price stifled the Sox on Wednesday night, allowing five hits on 97 pitches for his third complete game of the season, a 5-1 Rays win.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he hasn’t decided on his pitcher for Monday. He will choose Roberto Hernandez (5-11, 4.92 ERA), or skip Hernandez and let Price start again on regular rest.
“You face a good pitcher, and the way he was hitting the strike zone, what can you do about it?” Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said of Price. “The way he threw the ball [Wednesday] is probably the best he’s pitched all year. Hopefully, when we face him on Monday, we’ll do better.”
In their last three games against Tampa Bay, the Red Sox averaged 2.3 runs and hit just .204.
Manager John Farrell attributed the mini-slump to facing two of the game’s hottest pitchers. Matt Moore and Price — both lefties — each pitched a complete game against the Sox.
“Two lefties in this series, [the Yankees’ Hiroki] Kuroda in the previous series, we’ve gotten the best that this division offers,” Farrell said Wednesday night. “They’ve thrown the ball extremely well. The biggest thing is that they’ve pitched ahead in the count. Those three starters, particularly.”
If Maddon picks Price for Monday, he’ll likely have this stat in mind: In nine career starts at Fenway Park, Price has a 1.96 ERA — the lowest by a visiting starter since Lefty Grove of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1926-33.
Hernandez — Maddon’s other option — allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings against the Sox Tuesday night. Boston won, 6-2.
The Sox have been in first place in the AL East since May 27. They entered Thursday ranked first in the majors with 519 runs (5.04 per game).
Entering Wednesday’s game, the Sox led the majors with 4.04 pitches per plate appearance. They also led the big leagues in walks.
Yet when Moore and Price attacked the strike zone so effectively and consistently, the Sox struggled, hitting .119 in those two games.
“Our bats are fine, we just faced two of the best lefties in the league,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “An All-Star [Moore] and a guy who has won the Cy Young in the past [Price].”
The Sox won’t get much relief against the Orioles on Friday night as All-Star Chris Tillman (12-3, 3.84 ERA) is scheduled to start.
The Orioles have won 10 of the last 11 times Tillman has pitched.
In two games against the Sox this season, Tillman is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA — allowing nine hits and two runs over 11⅓ innings.
“I don’t think any starter in this division is terrible,” Saltalamacchia said. “We never go into a series saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to get this guy.’ We can never take anyone for granted. Especially in the East, no matter who it is.”
Tillman is looking to become the first Orioles pitcher to win 13 games in a season since Erik Bedard in 2007.
Scott Feldman (9-7, 3.75 ERA) is scheduled to pitch on Saturday for the Orioles, with Jason Hammel (7-7, 5.20 ERA) slated for Sunday.
Neither pitcher has faced the Sox this season. Neither are lefties. And luckily for the Sox, neither are named Moore nor Price.Emily Kaplan cane be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilymkaplan.