Josh Beckett returns to action, and says he feels like he hasn't "thrown for two days" . . . which, of course, he hasn't.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:
* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.
The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.
Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Souza all the way from first base. It was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.
For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.
On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.
* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.
It happened again.
In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.
But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.
In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.
The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.
* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue
True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.
Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.
In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.
On Toucher and Rich, Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal discusses Pablo Sandoval, who has joined the Red Sox at Tampa Bay after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery back in April.
David Ortiz and Andrew Benintendi are of of the lineup as the Red Sox close out their four-game series, and 11-game road trip, with a matinee (1:10 p.m.) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Benintendi was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday. He sustained a sprained knee while running the bases in the seventh inning of an eventual 11-inning loss to the Rays on Wednesday night. He had MRI Thursday morning and the Red Sox medical staff will review the results when the team returns to Boston.
It’s a day off for Ortiz, who will be replaced at DH by Hanley Ramirez, who had the night off Wednesday. Travis Shaw starts at first base.
With Benintendi out, Chris Young, who came off the DL on Monday, will start in left field. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (10-9, 2.95 ERA) is on the mound for the Red Sox, who are trying to take three of four from the Rays to finish the trip 8-3. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (8-5, 3.63) starts for the Rays.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Chris Young LF
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Bryan Holaday C
Drew Pomeranz LHP
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller 1B
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison DH
Scott Souza RF
Mike Mahtook LF
Luke Maile C
Jake Odorizzi RHP