BOSTON - Friday night's rainout could have threatened a nifty pitching matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox Saturday.
Both Boston manager John Farrell and Tampa Bay counterpart Joe Maddon skipped Friday night's scheduled starter, leaving Farrell's Jon Lester still facing Maddon's David Price in the Saturday opener of what is now a three-game series between the AL East teams.
The two lefties, who both have as much ability as anyone in the major leagues, come into this game with very different early resumes.
Lester, looking to bounce back from last year's misery that swallowed the entire team, is off to a 2-0 start and is clearly more comfortable having Farrell, his former pitching coach, back in Boston. He has allowed two runs in 12 innings in beating the Yankees and Blue Jays on the road, his team scoring 21 runs in the two games.
Price, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA, allowing 17 hits (three home runs) in 11 innings. The shaky Tampa Bay offense has scored four runs in his two starts, with the Rays being outscored 20-4 by the Orioles and Indians in the two games. He is already on six days' rest so the decision to pitch him Saturday was an easy one.
Maddon pushed scheduled Friday starter Alex Cobb back to Sunday, while Farrell will hold Felix Doubront off for Tuesday in Cleveland.
Entering play Friday, the Rays were last in the league in batting (.227) and had hit four home runs in nine games. Maddon, doing his weekly spot with MLB Radio, said he considered his team "fortunate" to be 4-5.
The Red Sox (5-4) lost the last two games of a three-game home series with the Orioles. New closer Joel Hanrahan yielded five runs in the ninth inning of Wdnesday's 8-5 loss, and Baltimore won 3-2 Thursday night.
NOTES: There wasn't much doubt or delay on calling the rainout, which will be made up as part of a June 18 day/night double-header. Rain was supposed to continue, with temperatures in the 30s, until past midnight. ... Pawtucket was also rained out Friday night, delaying David Ortiz's second rehab appearance. The PawSox will play a doubleheader Saturday. "I think we'll look to get a total of five at-bats," said Farrell. "Whether or not he maintains that looseness, which we fully expect, in between games, that'll be a game-time decision as far as he being in the lineup in Game 2." Ortiz was in the Boston clubhouse Friday and set to meet with Farrell after going 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored Thursday night. ... Tampa's Roberto Hernandez, scheduled to pitch the Patriots Day morning game Monday, was pushed back to Tuesday against Baltimore and Jeremy Hellickson moved from Sunday to Monday. ... Doubront will throw a three-inning simulated game Saturday. ... The Red Sox hired former pitcher Tim Wakefield as a special instructor and honorary chairman of the club's foundation.