ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Xander Bogaerts had three hits, second baseman Trevor Story made three key defensive plays and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay’s 21-year-old shortstop, had the first multi-homer game of his career.
Michael Wacha (1-0) gave up two runs on three hits, including Franco’s two homers, in five innings to get his first win for Boston.
Matt Barnes retired Franco on a groundball to a shifted Story for his first save after Jake Diekman walked the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth. It was one of three potential hits that Story turned into outs, two of them in the ninth inning.
”He bailed us out of some spots. A great defensive performance by Story,” said Boston bench coach Will Venable, who is filling in as manager with Alex Cora sidelined by COVID-19.
”He took over in the ninth inning,” Bogaerts said of Story. ”I’m not even worried about him not hitting. He’s going to hit. He’s making these spectacular plays right now with his defense, his range, everything.”
Story, Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo and Kike Hernandez hit four of Corey Kluber’s first 14 pitches for singles, spotting the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
Kluber (0-1) gave up four runs on 11 hits in five innings.
Franco’s homer made it 2-1 in the bottom of the first. Rafael Devers led off the third inning with his third homer of the season for Boston. Bogaerts followed with a double and scored on Hernandez’s single to make it 4-1.
Franco led off the fifth with another homer, his third of the season, before sprinting about 160 feet to catch a ball hit by Christian Valdez in the sixth.
”He’s Ozzie Smith with the glove, Barry Bonds with the bat,” Bogaerts said of Franco. ”I don’t know. He’s unbelievable. He’s ridiculous.”
Bogaerts’ second error of the game helped the Rays score another run in the seventh, an inning that ended with Franco flying out with a runner on second.
It was the second straight three-hit game and the fifth of the season for Bogaerts, who is hitting .517 (15 for 29) in his last seven games.
Red Sox: Cora tested positive on Thursday and is not with the team. … J.D. Martinez missed a second straight game after leaving Wednesday’s game in the third inning with left adductor tightness. Venable said he is ”progressing.”
Rays: C Francisco Mejia tested positive and was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. … RHP Chris Mazza was placed on the 10-day IL with back spasms. … C Rene Pinto and LHP Colin Poche were recalled from Triple-A Durham.
SIX PITCHES, SIX STRIKES
Poche, pitching in the majors for the first time since the 2019 AL Division Series, got three outs on six pitches – all strikes.
”You always give yourself a chance if you throw strikes,” he said. ”I was able to keep my emotions in check and keep my nerves down. But walking out there for the first time before the game, I was getting a little emotional, taking it all in and thinking about the journey over the last few years.”
Red Sox RHP Garrett Whitlock (1-0, 0.93 ERA), who has made 50 relief appearances for Boston over the last two seasons and earned a save on Tuesday, will get his first major league start Saturday night. J.P. Feyereisen (0-0, 0.00) will start for the Rays as an opener.
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