The Red Sox get the Rays jacked up.
If you don't think so -- even after Tampa Bay's latest win over the Sox, a 6-2 victory at Tropicana Field, Friday night -- consider these numbers:
Rays vs. American League: 10 wins, 14 losses, .269 batting average, 30 HRs, .450 slugging, 4.38 ERA, .251 batting average against, 23 HRs against.
Rays vs. Red Sox: Five wins, one loss, .300 batting average, 9 HRs, .547 slugging, 2.45 ERA, .211 batting average against, 3 HRs against.
You might think that the Rays are feeding off what would figure to be an expanded Tropicana Field crowd, the likes of which has been the norm since the Red Sox became baseball's biggest traveling road show. But this time around that can't be a major part of the equation considering Tampa Bay actually out-drew its Friday night showdown with the Sox in their only other Friday night Tropicana Field tilt this season, against the Chicago White Sox.
No, this has to do with what's happening on the field, where events have been anything but comforting to the Red Sox (being out-scored 19-2 will do that), but have been a boon for a Tampa Bay team whose 9-14 April had preseason prognosticators second-guessing themselves.
Here is a small sampling -- five things to be exact -- of things that we watched, digested, and learned from the Rays' latest round of Red Sox-induced rejuvenation ...
EVAN LONGORIA WILL BE UNDERPAID FOR ANOTHER EIGHT YEARS
In case you didn't hear, here is what Longoria, Tampa Bay's cornerstone third baseman, will be making for the life of his current contract: 2009, $550,000; '10, $950,000; '11, $2 million; '12, $4.5 million; '13, $6 million; '14, $7.5 million (club option); '15, $11 million (club option); '16, $11.5 million (club option).
That's right, three club options. You read correctly, a max of $11.5 million ... seven years from now.
Now, if you're wondering why we brought this up you might want to go back and look at a replay of Friday night's game. It was a performance that had Red Sox manager Terry Francona referencing Longoria as one of the best hitters in the game.
When a hitter claims a game-changing grand slam, coming in the middle of a six-run, fifth-inning, a day after Thursday night's bases-loaded double, such praise would be easy to understand. But in the case of Longoria, the promise stretches well beyond just the past few days.
Longoria leads the American League in RBI (28) and slugging percentage (.736), is eighth in batting average (.368), and fourth in home runs (7). This from a guy who still, combining both the regular season and playoffs, has yet to play the equivalent of a full campaign (having totaled 160 games).
Get used to Longoria Red Sox fans, he's not leaving the American League East any time soon.
MASTERSON STILL HAS WORK TO DO
Not once in Justin Masterson's previous 11 appearances as a starting pitcher in the major leagues had we seen him surrender more than four runs. But when you allow an inning that starts off with two baserunners, a sacrifice bunt, a hit batter, followed by a sacrifice fly, preceding another walk, then a grand slam, and finally another homer ... that's not normal for most, never-mind a pitcher who had as much early-season success as Masterson.
That was Tampa Bay's fifth inning, otherwise known as the Red Sox starter's most arduous frame of his young career.
The biggest concern entering this season in regards to Masterson was his ability to get left-handers out. Despite the continued emergence of a change-up, that worry hasn't left the building. The righty has now allowed 15 hits in 13 2/3 innings to lefties, while also walking seven.
While the highlights will focus on the home run from Longoria, Masterson came away from his third start of the season allowing opponent's left-handed batters a .377 batting average, compared to a .265 clip from righties.
This time control was an issue, as well, with Masterson throwing just 58 of his 105 pitches for strikes, while also throwing first-pitch strikes just barely more than 50 percent of the time (15 of his 27 batters).
DAVID ORTIZ STILL DOESN'T HAVE A HOME RUN
Not only doesn't Ortiz have a long ball yet -- by far his longest stretch as Red Sox without a home run -- but the hard outs have been few and far between of late, as well.
After striking to end the game, Ortiz stands at .220 with a slugging percentage of .319, which is 24th among everyday No. 3 hitters throughout the majors.
"He's taking it hard," Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo told MLB.com regarding Ortiz, who went 0 for 4 Friday night. "When you're a star, and you know you can hit, and things don't happen like you want, you're going to get mad, and you're supposed to get mad, because you're supposed to do all those things. I don't expect him to be happy."
If there was good news emanating from the Red Sox' loss, it was that Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury were the only ones without hits in the visitors' lineup. And Dustin Pedroia, who had gone without a hit in two straight games for just the second time this season, notched three hits.
For Pedroia, it has been all or nothing, either coming away with three-hit games (3) or no knocks in his last seven contests. Pedroia is tied with Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett and Toronto's Aaron Hill for the most games with three or more hits this season (5).
Oh, and not that it has anything to do with the current Red Sox lineup, but one of the game's most promising middle of the order prospects -- and former Red Sox draft pick -- Matt LaPorta was called up by the Cleveland Indians Friday night. LaPorta was the centerpiece in the deal which sent C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers from the Indians last seaosn.
THE PRESS BOX AT MCCOY STADIUM WILL BE TESTED
Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is recovering from a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to make his first rehab start Tuesday, with the Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium.
Matsuzaka, who is slated to throw a side session of about 45 pitches Saturday, will most likely go about three innings with the PawSox.
"The idea was to never put a Band-Aid on this," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. "He tested out really well today with all his strength and he is really starting to throw the ball with some velocity, with some arm strength. We're just trying to do the right thing."
While the throng of Japanese media that usually follows Matsuzaka will test the smallish McCoy Stadium press box, it most likely will be a rare occurrence considering the pitcher can't be sent to the minor leagues without his permission, per his contract.
BULLPEN GOT A BIT OF A REST
The only two relievers needed by the Red Sox were Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez, who combined to throw 37 pitches to eight batters. The good news was that neither pitcher allowed a run -- keeping their both hurlers' ERAs at 0.00 after a total of 22 appearances.
The semi-bad news was that those pitches added on to an already heavy April workload. Delcarmen has now thrown the third-most pitches (266) of any reliever in the majors, while Ramirez comes in at 26th.
The inability of the starters to go deep into games, coupled with the Sox' relievers propensity to endure long at-bats has the Red Sox bullpen having tossed more pitches than any other pen in the game, other than the Orioles.
Entering Friday night the Red Sox' relievers were coming in at 4.35 pitches per batter faced, by far the most in the majors. The previous highest mark since the stat has been kept was that of the the '96 Yankees' relievers (4.09).
For more on how taxed the Sox' bullpen has been see the Full Count Blog.