BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:
The Red Sox handled the Rays exactly how they should have -- not only Sunday’s win, but the series in general.
Tampa Bay hasn’t gotten the pitching they expected entering the season. They really haven’t gotten anything at all this year but frustrations and 20 more losses than wins.
They Red Sox needed the series sweep just as badly, after briefly putting themselves in third place.
This series gives Boston significant momentum heading into the break -- and they need all the help they can get with Eduardo Rodriguez expected to make his return to the big leagues Friday against the Yankees.
Brad Ziegler’s first appearance gave a good indication of what to expect from the submariner.
He’s not a hard thrower by any means, but he locates well and keeps the ball down. His slider has great movement across the zone and he has a changeup he can incorporate.
John Farrell might want to reconsider who’s the closer with Craig Kimbrel on the disabled list.
David Price had a solid first inning.
The lefty looked in control through the first two hitters, but had a scare once Evan Longoria and Brandon Guyer walked into the box, putting both guys on base.
Price had to put in a little extra effort to get the final guy but he did something that’s been hard for Boston pitchers -- throw a scoreless opening frame.
There’s no stopping David Ortiz.
He capped off his first half tear with an opposite field homerun on a solid sinking fastball from Jake Odorizzi.
That was certainly a difficult pitch to get too -- especially considering it started down the middle and was fading out of the zone.
But once again, David Ortiz proved that’s nothing he can’t handle.
Sandy Leon can’t be looking forward to the All-Star break.
Boston’s hottest hitter (25-for-55) kept up the pace, going 2-for-3 in the win.
The break is possibly coming at the worst time for the catcher and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this up with four days off.
There’s always a good chance Jackie Bradley Jr. will do something impressive in the field.
He almost always seems to make a big play in center. Sunday’s came in the second frame when Curt Casali launched a David Price changeup to left center. JBJ played the bounce perfectly and hosed Tampa’s catcher at second.
There’s no doubt he makes his presence felt some way every game -- and the pitchers probably notice him more than anyone.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar