BOSTON — When the Red Sox during the offseason made the unusual decision to schedule a day-night doubleheader with the Rays for Saturday rather than play a traditional four-game series in four days, the benefit to them was getting Monday off and avoiding playing 16 straight days.
The Rays didn’t have a say in that decision. They had just Thursday off after playing 16 straight, but that setup at least gave them a rare off-day at home.
But with Friday’s game postponed due to heavy rain that started falling around scheduled first-pitch time, the Red Sox made another interesting decision, choosing to reschedule the game for Monday, and with a late afternoon start, 4:05.
That seemed a bit surprising, given they had the option of playing the game when the Rays return in the final week of the season. Both teams have an off-day ahead of the two-game series slated for Sept. 26-27. The Red Sox’s decision was made in consultation with Major League Baseball officials, who may have wanted to keep the later off-day open in case of the need for other makeup games.
“I was told it’s a Red Sox decision,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We really don’t have a say in the scenario.”
The rescheduling would cause some shuffling of pitching plans anyway, and for the Rays, that was magnified with the news late Friday that lefty Josh Fleming is headed to the injured list in the next few days due to left elbow soreness.
That left the Rays with Trevor Kelley as the opener for Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game and 27th-man callup Cooper Criswell likely to work bulk innings, with Tyler Glasnow, Friday’s scheduled starter, working the 6:10 nightcap.
Rookie Taj Bradley was to pitch as scheduled Sunday. The Rays were still discussing options for Monday, with the potential of using ace Shane McClanahan, who otherwise would pitch Tuesday at home against the Twins.
And that was all pending the weather. Rain was in the forecast for the next three days.
Reliever Shawn Armstrong said there never has been a specific diagnosis of what caused the neck tightness that has sidelined him since the start of spring training, but he is thrilled the Rays helped him through it and is excited to be activated, likely Saturday.
“The medical staff was amazing, and they got me back healthy,” he said. “I’m in a good place now, feel really good.”
Armstrong, 32, is coming off a career-best season with the Rays, posting a 3-2 record and 3.60 ERA with two saves, working in high-leverage and multi-inning roles.
“Excited to have him back when that time comes,” Cash said.
Reliever Ben Heller, who was called up in May but didn’t get to pitch before being sent back to Triple A, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Robert Stephenson, acquired Friday in a trade with Pittsburgh. Stephenson was expected to join the Rays on Saturday, potentially between games, and they will have to clear a spot on the active roster.
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When Armstrong and Stephenson appear in games, they will be the 27th and 28th pitchers used by the Rays this season, not counting the appearances by position players Christian Bethancourt and Luke Raley.
Shortstop Wander Franco, who sat out Wednesday’s series finale in Chicago due to a sore left shoulder, was feeling good and in the lineup for Friday. ... The Red Sox had a floral display and photo in the radio booth in tribute to longtime broadcaster Dave Wills, who died March 5. ... Brandon Lowe has a career .436 average in 17 regular-season games at Fenway Park.
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