Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brayan Bello couldn’t have envisioned a better start to his outing in Monday’s series finale against the league-leading Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

And even though Bello looked spectacular in the top of the first by striking out the Rays in order — he fanned Yandy Díaz, Wander Franco and Josh Lowe — it was far from what he had planned.

“Of course trying to bring the energy out there,” Bello told reporters through a translator, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “For me, my big key today was to try to have quick outs. I didn’t have it last outing. So, I was fortunate enough to get some strikeouts, but the plan was to get quick outs.”

Bello made that a point of emphasis after throwing 97 pitches in four innings last time out against the Cincinnati Reds. It was his shortest outing since his season debut on April 17, when he last just 2 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

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After mowing down the Rays to get things started, he stuck to his game plan, not throwing more than 17 pitches in each of the next three innings. The only blemishes in Bello’s start, which lasted six innings as he totaled five strikeouts and one walk in a 4-1 loss for the Red Sox, came in the fifth inning. The Rays scored three times in the stanza and got four of their six hits off Bello in the frame, none of which were hit terribly hard.

“A little bit frustrating that you’re trying to execute your pitches and then they have soft contact,” Bello said. “I feel a little bit frustrated at the moment, but that’s baseball and that’s something you need to deal with.”

Bello has now allowed three earned runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts this season. And Monday’s performance against a Rays squad that has one of the best offenses in all of baseball was another good sign for the 24-year-old.

“He induced them to weak contact,” Red Sox manager Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “… Overall, he threw the ball well. Did a good job (getting) swings and misses with the changeup. Good velocity. Gave us six. They scored three.”

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