Bats go silent as Red Sox shut out by Rays

August 19th, 2018

BOSTON -- Even the most potent offense in the Major Leagues can get shut down occasionally.

The Red Sox were all but silenced in what was a bullpen game for the Rays, taking a 2-0 loss in Sunday's finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

Boston managed just two hits the entire day -- a double by in the second and a single by in the fourth.

The Rays deployed five different pitchers, including , who was traded from Boston to Tampa Bay last month. The lefty fired four innings of one-hit ball and got the win.

"Beeks pitched well. You've got to give it to him," said Red Sox right fielder . "The way they run their staff has been working. They're playing good ball. They've got a good system."

It was the fifth time the Sox have been blanked this year, and first since July 21 at Detroit.

At 88-37, Boston leads the Yankees by 9 1/2 games in the American League East. Though the Red Sox lost the game, they once again won the series, improving to 10-0-3 in their last 13.

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"That's our main goal in every series -- to try to win it," said manager Alex Cora. "We know how hard it is. Our main goal is to win series and move on."

A day after putting Chris Sale back on the disabled list with mild inflammation in his left shoulder, Cora called on for a spot start. Velazquez was solid other than one pitch that Joey Wendle hammered to right-center for a solo shot to right to lead off the second inning.

C.J. Cron made it 2-0 when he unloaded for a solo shot to left-center against Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Cora said before the game he might get five innings out of Velazquez. Instead, the righty went four and gave up three hits and just the one run, walking three and striking out two.

, Joe Kelly and combined on four shutout innings for the Red Sox.

"[Velazquez] was good. 'Work' was outstanding," said Cora. "Just one pitch to Wendle, one pitch to Cron and that's the game right there. We'll take that any day of the week. We feel like if you score two against us, we have a pretty good chance to win the game."

The Red Sox take their chances next for a four-game series at Fenway Park against old friend Terry Francona and the AL Central-leading Indians, which should have a playoff feel.

"It's going to be a good series," said Red Sox catcher . "It could be a tale of the future coming up in a couple of months. So just go out there and be ready."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Early rally snuffed out: On a day the Red Sox didn't have many chances, they put runners on first and second with nobody out in the fourth on a single by Benintendi and a walk by Steve Pearce. But the dangerous J.D. Martinez hit into a double play. Then with a chance to get Benintendi home from third, laced one to left. The drive had a hit probability of 83 percent, but the Rays had left fielder positioned perfectly, and he snagged it for the final out.

SOUND SMART

Boston continues to get one solid start after another. In the last eight games, Sox starters have a 2.13 ERA. They also have an AL-best mark of 2.01 since July 2.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

When Cron hit a sinking liner to to right with one out in the fourth, it looked like a hit off the bat, mainly because it wasn't hit all that hard at 80.5 mph. But it hung up just long enough for right fielder Betts, who came on for a sweet, diving catch to draw applause from the Fenway faithful.

HE SAID IT

"They're in a good situation right now in the Central. Obviously, they're a little bit banged up, but they're very explosive. Their young guys have been in the playoffs already. Obviously, they played in the World Series, and they were short, like, three outs. So they have enough motivation over there. Their manager [Francona], he does an outstanding job, too. We know how good they are, and I feel like they know we're good." -- Cora, on the upcoming showdown against the Indians

UP NEXT

A four-game matchup between two of the top teams in the AL opens with a duel of former Cy Young Award winners on Monday at Fenway Park. (15-5, 4.04 ERA) gets the call for Boston. He will be opposed by Indians righty (15-6, 2.68 ERA). This is the first game between the Red Sox and Indians this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.