Red Sox star Rafael Devers looks to stay hot in rematch vs. Rays

The Boston Red Sox will look to extend their winning streak to three games on Tuesday night when they continue their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In Boston’s 5-0 series-opening win on Monday, Rafael Devers set a franchise record by homering for the sixth straight game, smashing the record set by six others, including Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx.

“He’s understanding who he is in the lineup,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Devers, who has 10 homers for the season. “You look up and the numbers are impressive. … Shoot, I can’t remember how many games in a row I got hits.”

The Red Sox won for just the fifth time in the past 18 games on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

In reaching .500 through 48 games, Boston moved to just 2-6 in American League East matchups.

Before being shut out for the second time this season, the Rays received the news that they would be without staff ace Zach Eflin (lower back inflammation) after he was placed on the 15-day injured list.

“No doubt, it’s unfortunate,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “His back flared up at the end of his outing in Toronto (Saturday). I think this is similar to something he felt last year. If it is, it’s a good sign for us because he bounced right back.

“He (won’t) throw for a week or so and see how that goes. (His return is) anywhere in two to four weeks, I’m guessing, but it’ll all be symptom-driven.”

After earning a no-decision Thursday in Boston, Tampa Bay’s Zack Littell on Tuesday will face the Red Sox in a rematch with Red Sox starter Cooper Criswell. Both are right-handers.

Littell (2-2, 3.44 ERA) pitched in relief on two occasions for Boston in 2023 before being designated for assignment. He then was purchased by the Texas Rangers on May 5, 2023 before being selected off waivers by the Rays one week later.

In one start and one relief outing against his former club, Littell is 1-0 with a 5.14 ERA. He surrendered a solo homer to Devers in Thursday’s 7-5 win.

Criswell will look to rebound from his worst start but may have a little more incentive in coming back to pitch against Tampa Bay.

Criswell (2-1, 2.76 ERA) pitched the previous two seasons for the Rays, logging a 1-1 mark and a 5.45 ERA while making 10 of his 11 appearances for Cash’s club out of the bullpen.

However, Criswell has found his role in the Boston rotation despite allowing five runs (three earned) in 3 2/3 innings in Thursday’s defeat in his first career outing against the Rays. One of the four hits surrendered was a two-run homer to Josh Lowe.

Across 29 1/3 innings over seven appearances (six starts) overall this season, Criswell has found success primarily by limiting baserunners. That has resulted in a 1.09 WHIP, with the opposition batting just .225.

–Field Level Media