|Without Sale, Red Sox seek sweep of Rays|
BOSTON -- Chris Sale was in line to go out and try to continue his historic recent run for the Boston Red Sox in Sunday's series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.
But the left-hander, in a quest for what would be his first Cy Young Award, went back on the disabled list Saturday with more mild inflammation of his valuable left shoulder.
Sale, asked if he's worried about what this latest glitch means to the long-term plans for the rest of the season, said, "Not at all. I know where we're at. I know the necessary steps to get to where we want to go."
But he can't go Sunday.
Instead, Hector Velazquez, an unsung member of this pitching staff, will take the mound as the high-flying Red Sox go for a sweep of the three-game series. He will face another Rays "opener," with reliever Diego Castillo starting the game.
Velazquez is 7-0 with a 2.77 ERA.
Rick Porcello could have moved up to pitch on his regular fifth day, but remains set to open the four-game series with the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
The Red Sox improved to 88-36 and maintained their 10 1/2 game lead over the winning New York Yankees atop the American league East with Saturday night's 5-2 victory over the Rays.
David Price won his 13th game and J.D. Martinez hit his 38th home run of this dream season.
"A lot of people were talking about Fenway and J.D., like they didn't match because of the dimensions," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "That swing plays in any ballpark in the big leagues.
"I know in April he crushed a few balls to right field, but the weather didn't help out, but when it's hot and humid here, the ball flies and his stroke to right-center is actually perfect for this ballpark."
Martinez is hitting .350 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs at home.
The Red Sox have won seven of their last eight and 13 of 15.
Velazquez, 10-1 in his career, defeated the Rays as a starter April 1 and has faced them five times -- four in relief -- this season. He has allowed three runs in 13 innings.
The Red Sox are an amazing 45-15 against the AL East as their lead over the Yankees exists on the strength of New York going 29-26 within the division.
Young right-hander Tyler Glasgow lived through a nightmarish, sloppy, first inning Saturday night, then settled down and turned in a seven-inning start, saving the bullpen as the club continues its "opener" program for so many games.
"Very encouraging," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "The first inning was such a fluke for him, for all of us. Just a lot of odd things. His strike throwing kind of eluded him for whatever reason, but he's got to take a lot of positives from that outing.
"The adjustment was that he started to get efficient, started to challenge the guys earlier in the count, didn't fall behind. I know they squared some balls up, but to give up four, give up a home run to J.D. Martinez and then that's it, that was very, very impressive to work that deep into the ballgame."
Castillo is 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA (all 29 games in relief) as he goes up against the best team in baseball in 2018, at least at the start. He has pitched one inning in relief against Boston.
The Tampa Bay roster is 7-for-26 against Velazquez with Matt Duffy 4-for-5.