American League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, May 27th (All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (28-19) at Boston Red Sox (23-23), 1:35 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.73) Boston - Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.84)
(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Ray will square off in the rubber match of a three-game series at Fenway Park this afternoon.
Jeremy Hellickson will pitch for the Rays, and he has followed up his 2011 Rookie of the Year campaign with an impressive start to his sophomore season, boasting a 4-1 record and an ERA of 2.73.
Despite pitching 7 1/3 innings in his last start, his longest outing since going 8 2/3 on April 8, Hellickson recorded his first loss of the season on Monday by allowing eight hits and five runs, though just two of those runs were earned.
The right-hander has already faced the Red Sox twice this season. After allowing five earned runs in a no decision on April 14, he was impressive in a 2-1 win on May 16, surrendering one earned run in six innings, improving his career record against Boston to 3-1.
For the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz has pitched to a 4-2 record in the early going this season, but that record has not been an indication of how bad he's been.
Statistically, Buchholz has been the worst starting pitcher in the majors, as his 7.84 ERA and 1.91 WHIP are the highest among pitchers with at least 44 innings pitched. He's allowed five earned runs or more in seven of his nine starts, has just 27 strikeouts to 27 walks, and opposing batters are hitting an astounding .330 against him.
One thing Buchholz has going for him, though, is his success against the Rays, who he's gone 5-3 against in his career with a 2.48 ERA.
Saturday night's game ended in dramatic fashion, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting a pinch-hit two-run walk-off home run off of Rays closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Red Sox to the 3-2 victory.
The walk-off homer came on the day where Saltalamacchia caught the ceremonial first pitch from Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, who hit perhaps the most famous game-winning home run in club history.
"I said to him, 'Do you remember that swing?' He said, "I wake up some nights and still get goose bumps," Saltalamacchia said of his pregame chat with Fisk. "I know how he felt. I'm going to remember that swing."
It was Rodney's first loss and blown save of the season, snapping a stretch of 15 consecutive saves to open the season. The blown save spoiled a fine outing from David Price, who allowed one earned run in seven innings of work.
Despite the loss, Rays manager Joe Maddon is not worried about his closer.
"Fernando's been fabulous and he's going to continue to be fabulous for us," Maddon said. "No, I'm not concerned about him at all. He had great stuff."
Though Josh Beckett didn't factor in the decision, he was impressive, working seven innings allowing four hits, no walks, and two earned runs while striking out five. It was the third straight start Beckett has pitched at least seven innings while giving up two runs or fewer.
Rich Hill (1-0) was credited with the win, pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
After benches cleared on Friday night following a Tampa Bay hit batter, no ill-effects spilled over into Saturday night's action.
05/27 10:35:21 ET