The Red Sox have been in first place in the AL East since May 27 – a span of 97 days.
But over the last nine games, Boston is 4-5. The Sox are batting .221 with a .272 on-base percentage in that stretch.
Manager John Farrell doesn’t sound concerned.
He attributed the slump to one thing: The Sox have run into good pitchers.
“Two lefties in this series [Matt Moore and David Price], [Hiroki] Kuroda in the previous series, we’ve gotten the best that this division offers,” Farrell said. “They’ve thrown the ball extremely well. The biggest thing is that they’ve pitched ahead in the count. Those three starters, particularly.”
Farrell was especially impressed with Price, who tossed his seventh career complete game — and third of the season.
“He was throwing strikes all night,” Farrell said. “In about the sixth inning, he was throwing 80 percent strikes, which is just unheard of … Tip your hat. He pitched one heck of a game against us.”
With Moore — who also pitched a complete game against the Sox Monday — and Price leading the Rays’ staff, Farrell sees Tampa Bay as a legitimate threat coming down the stretch.
“For years, they’ve rode the strength of their rotation,” Farrell said. “That’s no different now. They’ve got two lefthanders that are pitching as well as anyone in the game.”