How did this Rays' domination over the Red Sox take root?


Facts are facts, as we pointed out prior to the latest Red Sox loss to the Rays.

But fortunately for Red Sox fans, facts are also facts when countering such a thing.

After Tampa Bay's 5-4 win over the Red Sox Saturday night the Rays' regular season record since 2010 is 890-777, two games better than Boston. During that time, however (as so many point out), the Sox own two World Series titles with 23 postseason wins. The Rays? They have eight victories in the playoffs.

Fine. Red Sox fans can stake claim reaching the mountaintop while the Rays keep spinning their postseason wheels.

But Tampa Bay's ability to get the better of these Red Sox is truly worth diving into.

The latest example, of course, is 2020 which sees the Rays sitting comfortably in first-place with Major League Baseball's third-lowest payroll while the third-highest payroll, the Red Sox, are on the edge of owning the worst record in all of MLB.

The Rays have now won seven of their nine games against the Red Sox this season, having gone 19-9 vs. Boston dating back to the outset of 2019.

The easy explanation for this phenomenon is pitching. In the 28 games between the teams the last two years Tampa Bay's ERA against Boston is 3.89 compared to the Sox' pitchers 5.29 ERA vs. the Rays.

It is also likely the reason for the Rays' relatively comfortable lot in life year in and year out. Good, affordable arms can go a long way.

Right now the Red Sox don't have a lot of either.

So, how did we get here and when will the dynamic flip?

For those who want to remember, the mindset of the Rays when it came to beating the Red Sox took a hard turn on June 5, 2008. That was the day Coco Crisp charged James Shields. That was the day Joe Maddon's team decided it was going to stand up to the big bad Red Sox.

Later that season the Rays beat the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series on the way to their own World Series. And since that day Tampa Bay is 104-100 against the Red Sox. Before the rivalry wasn't one at all, with Boston going 117-61 against Tampa Bay.

Besides attitude, there has obviously been execution.

While the top pick of the Rays haven't always distinguished themselves, they did nail David Price at No. 1 overall in 2007 and Blake Snell at No. 52 overall in 2011. Those are good foundation pieces. The front office also managed contracts expertly, signing team-friendly extensions while getting out of hefty deals a little to early rather than a lot too late.

The Red Sox? Too many times they have been chasing their big-market tails.

There has also been a fearlessness that has become a necessity for teams with the spending challenges Tampa Bay faces. As one member of the Rays once told when talking about the Rays front office, "The one thing about these guys is that they aren't afraid. They don't give a (expletive)."

Too many times the Red Sox decision-makers have given a (expletive) about perception or such and it has come back to haunt them.

Perhaps Chaim Bloom is bringing over some of the formula that made this all happen. We'll see. But until those answers take root we are left with this really glaring dynamic.