Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Smyly, Kelly face off to open Rays-Red Sox series

After starting the year playing 10 of their first 13 games inside Tropicana Field, the Rays are heading out this week for their longest road trip of the young season, beginning in Boston on Tuesday. The Red Sox, meanwhile, will be capping a 10-game homestand that began with them dropping two of three to the Orioles before splitting with the Blue Jays.
Rays starter Drew Smyly will be a big part of the road trip, as he will likely make two starts on the jaunt. Smyly's last winning start on the road was at Fenway Park on Sept. 23, 2015, when he shut out the Red Sox for 6 1/3 innings.
Boston will counter with right-hander Joe Kelly, who has had a roller-coaster ride in two starts this year. He is 1-0 after allowing two runs in five innings to get the victory against Baltimore on April 13, but he sports an unsightly 10.13 ERA, in large part due to the seven runs he allowed in three innings on April 8 against Toronto.
Things to know about this game
• Smyly appreciates the challenge of matching up against David Ortiz for one more season.
"He is one of the best hitters of all time, best DHs of all time," Smyly said. "It's been an honor to get to face him. It's always a very competitive at-bat. He doesn't take it off, he doesn't get cheated. So it's pretty cool when I'm done to tell people that I got to face Papi."
• The Rays and Red Sox have fared well at the other's ballpark in recent years. Tampa Bay won the 2015 season series, 10-9, but the Rays were 6-4 at Fenway Park while the Red Sox were 5-4 at Tropicana Field.
• Evan Longoria hopes to pick up where he left off against Boston. The Rays' third baseman had more hits versus the Red Sox than any other opponent last season (27). He hit .360 against Boston with four home runs and 10 doubles.

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