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May 16, 2024 6:07 am

Red Sox’s Cooper Criswell set to face former Rays teammates

Red Sox, Cooper Criswell

The Tampa Bay Rays will look to win the first leg of their season series against the host Boston Red Sox in the conclusion of a four-game series on Thursday.

Timely hitting and a strong pitching performance helped the Rays jump ahead in the series on Wednesday with a 4-3 win. Tampa Bay improved to 8-4 in the past 12 games.

Yandy Diaz’s two-run single highlighted a three-run sixth inning that lifted Tampa Bay. From there, the final three Rays relievers compiled scoreless outings to make a winner out of Taj Bradley.

“I’m very happy with the way things are going,” Rays center fielder Jose Siri said through a translator. “Hopefully we can just keep it going from there.”

Siri went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Wednesday.

Diaz has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 games, posting a .353 average (18-for-51) over that span.

“(Diaz is) hitting the ball harder again and probably a little bit more in the air,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “That ball (on Wednesday) was rifled up the middle. He’s a good hitter. It was just a matter of time before he got going.”

Zack Littell (2-2, 3.02 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay on Thursday looking to build upon his Saturday win over the New York Yankees. He allowed only two runs on four hits and struck out three across 5 2/3 innings.

Prior to that outing, Littell had not earned a win since his March 30 season debut against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Littell issued two walks to the Yankees, snapping a 28 1/3-inning streak in which he didn’t get out a base on balls. In between, he had four consecutive walk-free outings.

In his lone career appearance against the Red Sox, Littell tossed two scoreless innings relief for the Minnesota Twins on June 18, 2019, to record his first major league win.

The Red Sox had an 8-7 hits advantage in the Wednesday game, but two errors, three unearned runs allowed and 12 strikeouts at the plate doomed them.

“We started off well (with a Jarren Duran double) … and home runs (by Wilyer Abreu and Rafael Devers) were obviously good, but overall, we didn’t do much,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.

Devers’ homer cut Boston’s deficit to one in the sixth, but that was as close as the Red Sox would get.

Cora’s club has been held to three runs or fewer in nine of its past 12 games while allowing five or fewer in 16 consecutive contests.

Keeping the latter streak alive will fall into the hands of Cooper Criswell (2-1, 2.10 ERA). The right-hander is set to make his first career appearance against the Rays — the team for which he made 11 appearances (one start) between the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Criswell has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his six outings this season, including Saturday against the Washington Nationals when he produced a career-high nine strikeouts across five innings of two-run ball. The Red Sox have won all five of his starts.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunities,” Criswell said following his most recent outing. “Like I said in the past, anytime you get the ball, you just want to go out there and give the team the best chance to win.”

–Field Level Media

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