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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Xander Bogaerts is off to a blistering start for the Boston Red Sox.
The hot-hitting shortstop homered in his second three-hit game of the season, keying a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
"I'm just trying to be consistent, do the same thing every day to get better, and whatever happens out there happens," said Bogaerts, who also doubled in a run while extending the AL's longest active hitting streak to 12 games.
Bogaerts went deep in the second inning against Andrew Kittredge (0-1), a reliever making his first big league start in the debut of Tampa Bay's plan to use bullpen days in place of a customary fifth starter.
Bogaerts, who also had three hits on opening day, is 8 for 12 with five doubles in three games.
"He's on fire," Kittredge said.
Rick Porcello (1-0) shut down the Rays on four hits through five innings, but was unable to get through the sixth.
Carlos Gomez doubled leading off the inning, and Matt Duffy's one-out infield hit chased the right-hander. Joey Wendle's sacrifice fly off Heath Hembree made it 3-1.
Gomez homered in the eighth, and Tampa Bay put the potential tying run on base in the ninth before Craig Kimbrel got C.J. Cron to line into a double play and retired Denard Span on a popup for his second save.
The Rays planned to open the season with a four-man rotation and use bullpen days as needed in place of a fifth starter.
The non-traditional approach took a hit on the final day of spring training when the club announced Nathan Eovaldi had loose bodies in the right elbow and needed arthroscopic surgery.
With just three healthy starters — Chris Archer, Blake Snell and Jake Faria — on the roster, manager Kevin Cash will need another bullpen day Monday, when Tampa Bay begins a two-game series against the Yankees in New York.
Kittredge allowed two runs and three hits in 3 1/3 innings. Rookie Ryan Yarbrough worked the next four innings in his major league debut, followed by Sergio Romo and Chaz Roe.
Cash liked what he saw, especially from Kittredge and Yarbrough. Still, the manager said it's too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the bullpen-day concept.
"We really don't rate anything after one go-around," Cash said. "But I thought the two guys, the combination, threw the ball well."
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