Red Sox Notes: Starting Pitching Carries Boston In Series With Rays

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Boston Red Sox pitcher Hector Velazquez

Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Boston Red Sox will have a good offense this season — they’re too talented not to.

But the bats were far from the only reason the Sox began the 2018 season by winning three of four games against the Tampa Bay Rays. At the end of the day, the starting rotation is why Boston can leave Tropicana Field feeling good about itself.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez finished the four-game series by picking up the win in the Sox’s 2-1 defeat of the Rays on Sunday. In his 2018 debut, Velazquez fired 5 2/3 innings, surrendering one run on five hits and one walk while striking out five. He threw just 79 pitches on the afternoon.

The 29-year-old’s performance put a fitting cap on a marvelous debut for Boston’s rotation.

Chris Sale got the ball rolling Thursday in the season opener, striking out nine while giving up no runs in six innings. David Price followed by hurling seven shutout innings with five strikeouts Friday night, and Rick Porcello carried the torch with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball Saturday evening.

Yeah, not a bad start to the season — historic, in fact.

Furthermore, the four starters combined to throw just 336 pitches, which will go a long way toward manager Alex Cora’s goal of limiting the rotation’s workload.

Do Boston’s pitchers need to be this good all season? Of course not, as it’s probably unwise to think the Sox will amass just 10 runs in a four-game series again this season. But if nothing else, the rotation showed it’s capable of carrying the team when need be.

Here are other notes from Red Sox-Rays:

— Right-hander Joe Kelly picked up his first career save Sunday afternoon.

— So, this happened at the Trop:

— Here’s an indicator of just how tight this series was:

— With the win Sunday, Boston moved into sole possession of first place in the American League East — too early?

— The Sox will travel to Miami to begin a two-game series with the Marlins on Monday. Miami’s announced attendance of 10,428 for its game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday marked the lowest attendance in Marlins Park history.

How about that, Derek Jeter?

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