The Rays sure can pitch.
Tyler Glasnow’s 99-mph fastball, 94-mph changeup and 84-mph curve munched up Red Sox batters all afternoon on Sunday, as Glasnow flashed the devastating combination of stuff and command that could reshape the American League East in 2019.
With nine strikeouts over 6-⅔ brilliant innings from one of the three aces in their rotation, the Rays knocked off Chris Sale and the Sox with a 5-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
After getting swept at Tropicana Field last weekend, the Rays returned the favor over a two-game set in Fenway this weekend, extending their lead over the Red Sox to 7-½ games.
Perhaps most concerning for the Red Sox, and the characteristic that separates these two teams most drastically, is the stark contrast in starting rotations.
The Sox can’t win with Sale on the mound this year. They’re now 0-6 when he pitches. He he has a 6.30 ERA on the year.
And yet the Sox saw their rotation ERA drop from 5.78 to 5.62 after Sale allowed four runs (two earned) over seven innings on Sunday afternoon. He gave up two on a homer by the light-hitting Daniel Robertson in the first inning, when Sale came in with a first-pitch fastball and Robertson smoked it over everything in left field.
Two more runs scored in the second, when a Rafael Devers’ error extended the inning and Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t haul in a long fly ball near the center-field wall.
Sale settled in and got stronger throughout the outing, but it wasn’t good enough to compete with one of the best starters in baseball on the other side.
Glasnow’s strong performance actually caused the Rays rotation ERA to jump from 2.03 to 2.07 on the season. It’s almost a full run lower than any other rotation’s ERA this season.
Glasnow, Charlie Morton and Blake Snell could be three Cy Young contenders on one team. Together, they have a 2.32 ERA in 97 innings. They’ve struck out 116 batters with just 29 walks and 68 hits allowed.
Even when the Red Sox swept the Rays in Tampa last weekend, they didn’t do it in an overpowering way. In five games against the Rays this year, the Sox have hit .233 while scoring just 3.8 runs per game.
Michael Chavis homered for the Red Sox, his third of the season.
The Sox, 11-17, have won just one series in nine tries this year.
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