ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's first taste of defeat for the 2018 season came via an old friend. David Price handcuffed the Rays for seven innings before handing off to the bullpen in the Red Sox's 1-0 win at Tropicana Field.Boston's lefty pitched effectively and efficiently, allowing no runs on
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's first taste of defeat for the 2018 season came via an old friend. David Price handcuffed the Rays for seven innings before handing off to the bullpen in the Red Sox's 1-0 win at Tropicana Field.
Boston's lefty pitched effectively and efficiently, allowing no runs on four hits while striking out five in seven innings. Price was a strike-throwing machine, notching 55 strikes over 76 pitches to come away with his first win of the season.
Rafael Devers' RBI single in the seventh gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, and that would be all Boston needed.
What's important from the Rays' perspective is the performance of Blake Snell, who went toe to toe with Price. That should bode well for the lefty this season.
Snell allowed no runs on three hits while walking two and striking out two in 5 2/3 innings.
"I'm happy with my consistency in the zone," Snell said. "I'm happy with my tempo. Happy with my defense; they really played great. I'm happy with Wilson [Ramos] behind the plate.
"We got in a rhythm quick. Felt like I needed to attack more later in the game. ... They're a good hitting team, they're not going to chase. So I was frustrated with that part. But overall I was happy with the first start of the season, for sure."
With runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth, Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the matchup of Chaz Roe going against Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez.
"I know [Snell] could have gone deeper, but I felt like that was the right time to get Chaz in there against J.D. Martinez, who had seen Blake a couple of times, and see if Chaz's breaking ball could quiet him a little bit," Cash said.
Roe struck out Martinez to end the threat.
Snell finished the 2017 season on a roll, going 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his final 10 starts. He then had a nice spring, going 0-0 with a 3.12 ERA in five official outings against Major League competition.
All spring, Snell resembled the guy who blew through the Rays' farm system in 2015 when he pitched at Class A Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, compiling a 15-4 record with a 1.41 ERA along the way. He also struck out 31.3 percent of the batters he faced across all three Minors levels.
It's not a stretch to start believing that Snell has arrived.
"The difference to me is now he has more confidence," Ramos said. "A little bit more experience. … I saw him way different this spring. To me, he's more aggressive and his pitches are working better than last year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Devers delivers: After falling behind 0-2 in the count against Rays lefty reliever Jose Alvarado, the left-handed-swinging Devers delivered the clutch hit that had eluded the Red Sox for the first six innings. With the count 1-2, Devers ripped a single up the middle on a 95.2-mph fastball to score Xander Bogaerts from second to break the scoreless tie. Bogaerts set up Devers with a leadoff double, and Price finally had a lead.
Cora's decision works: The Red Sox had a tough eighth inning on Opening Day, as the bullpen gave up six runs and squandered a 4-0 lead. For that reason, nobody would have blamed Red Sox manager Alex Cora for sticking with Price, who had been remarkably efficient over his seven innings. But Cora went to Matt Barnes and the righty got the job done, working around a walk and holding the 1-0 lead for a clean ninth-inning handoff to closer Craig Kimbrel.
"It's not easy to face those big names on the mound. Those guys were throwing the ball really good. They've got experience, but you know, this season started yesterday, and we've got a lot of opportunity to face those guys again, and make an adjustment, and try and hit the ball better." -- Ramos, on the fact the Rays' hitters have just eight hits in two games against the Red Sox
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria extended his errorless streak to 53 games and 189 chances. His streak matches Yunel Escobar in 2013 for the longest in club history for a shortstop.
Rob Refsnyder played left field for the Rays Friday night and made a diving catch to end the fourth. Playing Tropicana Field's sometimes tricky outfield didn't seem to faze Refsnyder, who came to the Rays in a Tuesday afternoon trade with the Indians. "I felt fine out there," he said.
Red Sox:Rick Porcello, who is determined to have a bounce-back season, takes the ball on Saturday in Game 3 of this four-game series. The sinkerballer is 7-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 career starts at Tropicana Field. First baseman Mitch Moreland and catcher Sandy Leon are expected to make their first starts of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET.
Rays: The Rays will employ a "bullpen day" for the first time this season. The plan had been to have four starters making regular starts with the fifth spot in the rotation occupied by the bullpen. Now that Nathan Eovaldi is out after having a procedure on his right elbow, the Rays have three starters and a nine-member bullpen. From that group, Andrew Kittredge was selected to start Saturday against the Red Sox.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.