Winning games against American League East rivals was imperative to recent Red Sox clubs that reached the playoffs.

The last five years have brought quite the obstacle for the Red Sox: beating the Tampa Bay Rays on the road.

The Red Sox had not won a series at Tropicana Field since July 2019 when Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez still headlined a lineup fresh off of a World Series championship. That success took a turn for the Red Sox as the team proceeded to go just 10-25 at Tropicana Field since the start of the 2020 season.

Boston finally ended that drought, taking the first two games in Tampa Bay this week to earn its first series victory there in just under five years. Pitching and dynamic athleticism set the tone for Boston to turn the tides on a pivotal trend within the division.

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“We’re in a better place,” Alex Cora told reporters on Tuesday night, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We’re versatile. We can play their game. We can play defense and run the bases. We can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We can pitch, too. We won the series. Let’s get greedy. Come here tomorrow and put in a good game and finish the road trip the right way.”

The Red Sox look for the series sweep, which would also be the first in Tampa Bay since 2019 when the teams finish the three-game set Wednesday. Boston still has work to do in terms of improving in the AL East after an early-season sweep from the Baltimore Orioles.

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Nonetheless, a series win in Tampa Bay marks progress for this Red Sox core.

Featured image via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images