BOSTON (AP) — Curt Casali is a lifetime .198 hitter who was holding down the No. 9 spot in the batting order for the Tampa Bay Rays, the lowest-scoring team in baseball.
So how to explain his .625 batting average — with three homers in eight at-bats — against David Price, a six-time All-Star and 2012 Cy Young Award winner?
“I can’t even tell you I’ve got a feeling about it,” manager Kevin Cash said on Thursday after Casali homered and singled against his ex-teammate to lead the Rays to a 12-8 victory over the Boston Red Sox. “He’s doing it against one of the best.”
Evan Longoria also homered off the former Tampa Bay ace, as the Rays chased him in the fourth inning. Steven Souza Jr. doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth as Tampa, which gave up five runs in the first scored six in the fourth before Boston rallied to tie it 8-all.
The Rays, who entered the game with the fewest runs scored in baseball, topped their previous season high of seven.
And they did most of it against Price, tagging him with eight runs on eight hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five, but hit two batters and gave up a pair of homers.
“That’s the best I’ve felt in my four starts here,” Price said. “To me, that’s the most disappointing thing. To feel the way that I felt, (I just didn’t) get the results that I expect.”
It was a career high in runs allowed for Price, who spent six years in Tampa and then was traded at each of the last two trading deadlines, to Detroit in 2014 and Toronto in ’15. In all, he has allowed 17 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings in four starts against his original team.
“I have so much respect for him,” Longoria said. “But you want to go out and beat him.”
Erasmo Ramirez (4-0) struck out Mookie Betts with the bases loaded in the seventh, then pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. Alex Colome got two outs for his third save.
William Cuevas, making his major league debut, pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks for Boston.
Dustin Pedroia was a triple away from the cycle while recording the 1,500th hit of his career. But he lined out to right with two on and two out in the ninth to end the game.
Xander Bogaerts also had three hits for the Red Sox. Logan Forsythe had three hits for Tampa.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning to take a 5-1 lead, with six of the first seven batters reaching base safely. Pedroia hit a two-run homer. Travis Shaw stole home on a double steal that put Brock Holt on third when Casali’s throw went into center field.
But the Rays erased the gap with one in the third and then six more in the fourth, chasing Price. Casali hit a two-run homer and Longoria doubled in a run.
Rays: The trainer came out to check on Brandon Guyer after he was hit by a pitch a second time, but he remained in the game and was plunked for a third time — tying the franchise record that he had already shared with Jonny Gomes.
Red Sox: Bogaerts, who left Wednesday night’s game with a tight quadriceps muscle, was back in the lineup and had three hits.
Rays: Visit the New York Yankees at 7:05 p.m. on Friday. Lefties Matt Moore (1-0) and CC Sabathia (1-1) will face each other.
Red Sox: Travel to Houston to play the Astros at 7:10 p.m. on Friday. Steven Wright (0-2) will pitch against Colin McHugh (1-2).