ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — After going unbeaten against four teams with losing records, the Tampa Bay Rays headed to Toronto to try setting Major League Baseball’s post-1900 record for consecutive wins at a season’s start.
“We’re a small-market team and people around the league not all the time have great things to say about us, but we play together,” Manuel Margot said through a translator after the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 9-3 Thursday for a 13-0 start.
Tampa Bay rallied in a seven-run fifth inning that Harold Ramirez began and capped with doubles, and the Rays matched the 13-win start of the 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.
The only longer opening streak was 20-0 by the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. The Rays have won all but two of the games by four or more runs and have outscored opponents 101-30 with the most runs in the big leagues and the fewest allowed.
“When you do something like that you’re playing really well,” manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s not one part of our game right now that we don’t feel good about.”
Playing before a crowd of 21,175, the largest at Tropicana Field since opening day, the Rays set a team record for winning streak at any point in a season by topping a 12-game run in June 2004. The streak includes series against Detroit, Washington and Oakland.
Boston, held to four hits, has lost 13 consecutive games at the Trop.
“They pitch when they need to pitch. They put the ball in play and they drive guys in,” Christian Arroyo said.
Rays starter Jeffrey Springs left two pitches into the fourth inning with what the team said was ulnar neuritis, inflammation of the ulnar nerve that causes numbness or weakness. He was relieved after throwing a 79.8 mph changeup and a 83.5 mph to Justin Turner, then looking at his hand and elbow.
“The pitch prior, kind of just felt a little bit of something in the elbow, forearm area,” Springs said. “It was kind of hard to pinpoint.”
He said the sensation felt like a shock rather than pain and he planned to get imaging on Friday. Cash said Springs is likely to miss at least one start.
“Hopefully, it’s just a nerve thing that kind of flared up,” Springs said. “I didn’t feel anything pop or anything like that.”
Tampa Bay trailed 3-1 in the fifth against the Red Sox. Ramirez started the big rally with a double off Corey Kluber (0-3) and broke open the game with a three-run double against Richard Bleier.
Francisco Mejía cut the deficit with a run-scoring single and Brandon Lowe greeted Bleier with a tying RBI single.
Randy Arozarena singled for a 4-3 lead, Wander Franco was hit by a pitch and Margot dropped down a run-scoring bunt single.
“I noticed the third baseman, he was playing back,” Margot said of Bobby Dalbec.
Ramirez then lined a double into the left-field corner for an 8-3 advantage.
“When Harold led off with a double, it sparked the lineup. It kind of let everyone breathe a little bit,” Brandon Lowe said.
Lowe added a seventh-inning home run off Kutter Crawford, his fifth this season.
Yandy Díaz tied the score 1-1 in the first with his fourth this season for the Rays, who lead the major leagues with 32. Only the 2019 Seattle Mariners and 2000 St. Louis Cardinals with 33 each homered more through 13 games.
Kevin Kelly (1-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win.
Braden Bristo, a 28-year-old right-hander, pitched three hitless innings with four strikeouts and a walk in his major league debut after seven seasons in the New York Yankees minor league system.
Rob Refsnyder homered in the first, the first run off Springs in three starts this season.
Kiké Hernández hit into a run-scoring groundout in the fourth, an inning that included Triston Casas’s 14-pitch walk against Garret Cleavinger. Justin Turner had an RBI single in the fifth on a soft fly to center that dropped just in front of center fielder Josh Lowe.
The Rays entered averaging 16,770 at hom, ahead of only Oakland, Miami and Kansas City.
Yu Chang is 0 for 12 this season and 0 for 22 since Sept. 22.
Red Sox: RHP Zack Kelly was placed on the 15-day IL after leaving Wednesday night’s game with an elbow injury, and RHP Kutter Crawford was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.
Rays: RHP Taj Bradley, who won his major league debut on Wednesday, was optioned to Triple-A Durham. … Bristo’s contract was selected from Durham and RHP Shane Baz (Tommy John surgery) was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (2-0) starts Friday’s homerstand opener against Los Angeles Angels and LHP Patrick Sandoval (1-0).
Rays: RHP Drew Rasmussen (2-0) starts Friday’s series opener at Toronto, which goes with RHP José Berríos (0-2).
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