TAMPA — The Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, who met in the American League Division Series last fall, will watch the playoffs from home this season. The Sox are in last place in the AL East, the Rays in fourth. Both teams have losing records.
But the four-game series that starts Friday night at Tropicana Field could still be an interesting one, given the history between the teams.
One of the Tampa Bay antagonists, David Price, was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the non-waiver trade deadline. It was Price who feuded with David Ortiz earlier this season, sparking a benches-clearing incident between the teams. But the Rays still have Chris Archer, who was Price’s protégé in many ways, including being willing to talk trash to Ortiz.
Archer, who starts Friday, allowed a long home run by Ortiz July 27 at the Trop, then ripped him afterward for his slow trot around the bases.
“I don’t know what makes him think he can showboat the way he does and then nobody retaliate, nobody look at him a funny way or nobody pitch him inside,” Archer said that day.
“I hope he realizes there’s more that goes into it than just him. I don’t know, I feel like you can’t say that your true character is defined by one action, but multiple actions speak to who you are.”
Ortiz was more amused than angry. Archer is 25 and had yet to spend a full season in the majors.
“What can I tell you? Players in today’s game are too sensitive about things,” Ortiz responded. “I’ll just leave it at that. I think he’s a good pitcher; I think he’s got great stuff. He’s a guy that I think is going to be pretty good. But it takes some time to get that level.
“There’s always going to be comments out there. He’s not the right guy to be saying that I don’t think. He’s got two days in the league and he’s complaining about [stuff] like that.”
Ortiz is 5 of 13 in his career against Archer. The righthander is 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in six starts against the Sox.
Ranaudo gets nod
As expected, the Red Sox named rookie righthander Anthony Ranaudo their starter for Friday.
He is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in starts against the Yankees and Reds. Ranaudo was 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts for Triple A Pawtucket and was the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
With Brandon Workman sent back to Pawtucket, the Red Sox needed a starter. It is likely that Edwin Escobar, who made his major league debut with an inning of relief Wednesday, will be optioned to make room for Ranaudo.
Lefthander Henry Owens, 22, was named the Eastern League pitcher of the year in a vote of managers and media members. Portland’s Billy McMillon was manager of the year.
Owens was 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 20 starts for Portland before an Aug. 1 promotion to Pawtucket. He was leading the league in wins, strikeouts (126), complete games (three), shutouts (two), and batting average against (.201).
Portland lefthander Brian Johnson was second in the voting.
In his first season at Portland, McMillon led the Sea Dogs to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
Dustin Pedroia is hitting .328 with an .803 OPS since July 25. In 30 games, he has 14 RBIs and nine extra-base hits. Pedroia’s batting average has climbed from .269 to .283 . . . With the Sox losing 9 of 11, manager John Farrell now has a career record of 309-310. He is 155-140 with the Sox . . . Mike Napoli is hitting .160 (8 for 50) in his last 14 games but does have 10 RBIs . . . Will Middlebrooks, who has been playing every day at third base, is 1 for his last 13 with eight strikeouts . . . Xander Bogaerts returned to the team after being cleared of concussion symptoms. He is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion DL Saturday.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.