The Boston Red Sox didn’t see this coming.
The defending World Series champions will look to avoid a three-game sweep by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when the teams conclude their series at Tropicana Field.
Winners of seven of eight coming into this series, the Red Sox suddenly find themselves trying to save face against a team that finished last in the AL East from 1998-2003 before coming in fourth a year ago.
What makes the Red Sox’s predicament even more surprising is they came into this set leading the all-time series 64-33, including a three-game sweep at Fenway Park last week in which they outscored the Devil Rays 19-3.
Eduardo Perez gave the Devil Rays a 5-4 win on Friday with a 459-foot home run leading off the ninth inning. Then on Saturday, Tampa Bay knocked around Curt Schilling before holding on for a 6-5 victory.
David Ortiz hit two home runs for Boston, which led 4-0 and 5-2 before Tampa Bay finally figured out Schilling.
“There’s no better feeling than that,” Devil Rays reliever Trever Miller said. “We come back and hang in there. Fans got to love that. You got to love the underdog … especially an underdog that keeps fighting.”
The Devil Rays will go for the sweep on Sunday with Hideo Nomo on the mound. The Japanese right-hander is coming off a 6-2 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday in which he allowed just one run over 5 2-3 innings pitching on three days’ rest.