BOSTON – The struggling Boston Red Sox are hoping a two-day break will help them shake off their slow start.
Two of the AL's early disappointments got together for a rain-shortened series, and the Tampa Bay Rays left town with a pair of victories and a sense they're headed in the right direction.
The Red Sox, though, can't seem to shake this miserable start.
"We've created a nine-game fiasco early in the season and now we've got to try and figure out a way to make it better," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after Wednesday's series finale was rained out.
The Red Sox began the year as one of the favorites to win the World Series. They signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and revamped their bullpen over the winter, but they opened the season with two wins in their first 11 games.
"Everybody's worried. I won't lie to you," David Ortiz said. "Everybody's working their butt off to get things better. Things are not coming the way we expected, but everybody's trying to change things around."
Now, they get two days off to think about how to turn it around.
"I don't think that'll hurt one bit — being able to step away from it," Francona said.
Boston's next scheduled game is Friday against Toronto, which is managed by former pitching coach John Farrell. Clay Buchholz will open the four-game series against the Blue Jays, and Wednesday's scheduled starter, John Lackey, will be skipped until Tuesday.
There was no makeup announced for the rainout.
"Definitely, turn the page you know," Ortiz said. "Make things better and start winning ballgames."
The Rays pounded Daisuke Matsuzaka on Monday night, posting a 16-5 win. The right-hander gave up seven runs in two-plus innings and was booed when he departed.
David Price outpitched Jon Lester in the Rays' 3-2 win on Tuesday.
"What we need to do is win, and then they can do anything they like," Francona said when asked how quiet things are and which player is the leader in the clubhouse during the rough stretch.
Former Tampa Bay star Crawford, who agreed to a $142 million, seven-year contract in December, is off to a terrible start, hitting just .152 with no homers.
Three Boston starters have ERAs over 7.00; Buchholz (7.20), Matsuzaka (12.86) and Lackey (15.58). One of the new bullpen additions, Dan Wheeler, also signed away from the Rays, has an 18.90 ERA after four appearances.
But Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose team started 1-8, can't imagine the Red Sox playing that way for much longer.
"Honestly, when we were 1-8, I wasn't concerned," he said. "Even what the Red Sox are going through, there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to get back to what they're supposed to do. That's just how it is."
When asked why, he didn't hesitate with his answer.
"They're really good," he said. "That's why they'll come out of it. You look at their lineup and the guys on their bench. They know how to win and they're not going to stay where they're at. There's no doubt in my mind they'll come out of it."
Ortiz feels the same way.
"It's just a matter of time, things are gonna get better," he said. "They can't get no worse."
NOTES: Francona said LHP Dennys Rayes, designated for assignment on Friday, cleared waivers and will go to Florida to get some work before heading to Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Maddon said the rainout may actually help the Rays because Price threw a lot of pitches and the extra day between starts would help him.