An anticipated pitchers’ duel between Boston’s Rick Porcello and Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell turned into a dud early. Snell was terrific, but Porcello struggled early, and was further hurt by a couple of errors and by fielding misplays. In the 1st inning, the Rays’ Denard Span doubled, and after a walk and a weak single, the bases were loaded for Wilson Ramos. Porcello fielded his slow comebacker, but when he tossed the ball home, Sandy Leon could not handle the throw, and Span scored, leaving the bases reloaded. Brad Miller’s sac fly drove in another run. In the 2nd, after a single and walk, Porcello hit Matt Duffy to load the bases with 2 out. Wilson Ramos singled to right to drive in one run, and when Eduardo Núñez could not handle the throw from Mookie Betts, two more runs scored. Betts was charged with an error (though it looked like Núñez muffed the play to me). In the 4th, after Span singled, stole 2nd, and scored on a Matt Duffy single, Ramos’s single spelled the end of the night for Porcello. Meanwhile, Snell pitched 6 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks, with 8 whiffs. The Sox finally scored in the 7th off reliever Matt Andriese when Núñez doubled and scored on a throwing error by Brad Miller on a Rafael Devers ground out. In the 9th came the Red Sox highlight of the game as Mitch Moreland crushed a solo no-doubter to right center. Núñez then singled, reached 2nd on defensive indifference, and scored on a Devers double. But that was it. Tampa Bay beat Boston, 6-3, at Tropicana Field. Record: 34-16. Game 50/112.
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Mookie Betts claimed the lead in the home run race (for now) with his 3 run 3rd inning blast off Tampa Bay Rays starter Jake Faria for his 16th of this young season. That, and Rafael Devers’ solo bomb in the 4th powered the Red Sox to victory. Chris Sale had an excellent start, going 7 2/3rds innings (before his 112 pitches did him in) while giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, with 9 whiffs. Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel took things there. Tampa Bay’s runs came in the 4th, when Willy Adames smacked a solo dinger to left (his first career major league homer), and in the 5th, when Rob Refsnyder doubled, reached 3rd on a passed ball by Sandy Leon, and scored on a sac fly. Brad Miller doubled for the Rays, but did not score. Kimbrel seemed to have some control issues, giving up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before finishing off the Rays. A whopping 10,642 were on hand to watch the contest, as Tampa Bay continues its decade long position as dead last in major league attendance. Why is there major league baseball in Florida? Both Tampa Bay and Miami have had routinely terrible attendance. Floridians clearly don’t give a crap about baseball. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 4-2, at Tropicana Field. Record: 33-15. Game 48/114.
The Red Sox pieced singles and walks together to come back from a 3-0 deficit and beat the Tampa Bay Rays without one extra base hit. Boston starter Rick Porcello is an example of that increasingly rare breed of pitcher that still pitches to contact rather than trying to blow everyone away. His low ball style is designed to induce ground balls, which means that he will usually give up a few runs in the course of the game. This should be no issue with a high scoring offense like that of the Red Sox, but since they have been sputtering lately, it did produce some high drama in this one. The Rays accumulated an early lead over Rick, powered by a 2 run dinger off the bat of Denard Span in the 3rd, and a double by Brad Miller that resulted in a run when Mallex Smith singled him home. The Rays strategy of short stint pitchers seemed to be working as the combination of starter Matt Andriese, Jonny Venters, and Andrew Kittredge managed to keep the Sox off the scoreboard for the first 5 innings. In the 6th, however, singles by Eduardo Núñez and Hanley Ramirez, combined with a walk to Andrew Benintendi loaded the bases for JD Martinez, who delivered a 2 RBI single. Another walk loaded the bases for Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a sac fly to tie the game at 3. In the 8th, JD singled again, reached 2nd on a subsequent walk, and scored when Sandy Leon hit a sharp single to left. Porcello had left in the top of the 8th with the score still tied, and got a no-decision. Craig Kimbrel pitched the last 4 outs for the win, allowing 3 hits, including a double to Joey Wendel. Let’s hope the boys can build some momentum from this. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 4-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 20-7. Game 27/135.
#RedSox Game Summary (April 28) “Ted Williams Would Roll Over in His Freezer If He Could See This” – Fever Pitch
OK; maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but it was close. Clumsy plays in the field, a lack of timely hitting, and a Tampa Bay Rays team on a red-hot streak combined to produce this debacle. The Sox had the bases loaded with no one out twice, and managed just one run each time. Boston went 12-for-38 including a home run and 2 doubles with 2 walks, which is pretty good, but the team was unable to string those baserunners together for runs, and stranded 10, while plating just 5 of 17 runners in scoring position (RISP). When they did score, they managed just one run in an inning. Andrew Benintendi had the best day, going 3-for-5 with a double while scoring 2 runs. Rafael Devers also went 3-for-5, including a solo home run. The Sox knocked out Rays starter Sonny Chirinos after 2+ innings in which he gave up 3 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and whiffing 3. Ryan Yarbrough took over from there, and managed to limit the Sox to 2 runs over 4 innings of work for the win. David Price started for Boston and really struggled, going 5 2/3rds innings. He was charged for 6 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks, while whiffing 5. One of those hits was a 2nd inning inside-the-park home run by Denard Span on a ball that Jackie Bradley, Jr. had misjudged. The play was originally scored an error, then revised to be a hit. Wilson Ramos, who had doubled also scored on the play. Ramos also hit a 2 run shot in the 3rd, driving in CJ Cron, who had reached on a 2 bagger. Boston picked away, with single runs in the 1st-5th innings to tie the Rays, who had scored another run in the 5th when, after a pair of singles, Price walked the bases loaded, then walked in a run. It was that kind of game. It was then Tampa Bay’s turn to score single runs in the 6th-8th innings on a smattering of singles in the 6th, a solo blast by Carlos Gomez in the 7th off Matt Barnes, and a Jesus Sucre RBI double in the 8th. In the 9th, Tampa Bay left no doubt regarding the outcome of this game when they loaded the bases for Johnny Field, who delivered a grand slam. Matt Duffy also doubled in the game for the Rays, but did not score. The Sox managed to get one back when Benintendi doubled and scored on a single by Devers. Each team was charged an error in this game, but there was plenty of overrunning and misjudging the ball on the part of Red Sox fielders. Time to wake up, guys. Boston has now lost 5 of the last 7 games. Tampa Bay beat Boston, 12-6, at Fenway Park. Record: 19-7. Game 26/136.
The Red Sox fell behind the Tampa Bay Rays early, after giving up 2 runs in the 1st on a 2 run homer by Wilson Ramos, a solo bomb by Rob Refsnyder, and another in the 4th by Daniel Robertson. All these came off Boston starter Rick Porcello, who was clearly off his game today. Meanwhile, Rays starter Blake Snell blanked the Sox through 5 innings, but finally faltered in the 6th, when Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts, and JD Martinez doubled to produce 2 runs. The Sox scored a third run in the 8th when Betts hit is second double off Rays reliever Chaz Roe and scored on a long single by JD Martinez. Xander Bogaerts marked his return to the lineup with a double in the 7th, but did not score. In the end, the Sox struggled mightily, but could not completely overcome the Tampa Bay lead. Tampa Bay beat Boston, 4-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 19-6. Game 25/137.
The Boston Red Sox came back from a 2-0 8th inning deficit to tie in 9, and beat Tampa Bay in 12. David Price had another excellent start, with 7 scoreless innings on 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 whiffs. Carson Smith came on in the 8th and surrendered a 2 run dinger to Matt Duffy to put the Sox in a hole late. Rays pitching fared well against Boston as well, with starter Yonny Chirinos keeping the Sox off the board through 5, giving up just 3 hits and no walks while punching out 4. Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo, and José Alvarado combined for 3 more blank frames. In the 9th, however, Mookie Betts singled off reliever Alex Colome, and after Colome walked Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez drove Mookie in to make the score 2-1. A double by Xander Bogaerts plated Benintendi to tie the score at 2. On we went until the 12th, when Jackie Bradley, Jr. doubled, and reached 3rd on a sac bunt by Christian Vazquez. Andrew Kittredge intentionally walked Mookie, and left the game for Ryan Yarbrough. Betts stole 2nd, and Benny Baseball walked, setting up a bases loaded situation for Hanley the Hero. He lived up to his billing, rifling a line drive to the right field warning track to drive in JBJ with the winning run. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 3-2 in 12 innings, at Fenway Park. Record: 6-1. Game 7/155.
Xander Bogaerts put on quite a display in this one, going 3-for-5 with a double and home run. Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and JD Martinez also contributed doubles as the Red Sox slid by the Tampa Bay Rays. Rays starter Andrew Kittredge went just 3 1/3rd innings to take the loss. It was Rick Porcello’s first start and win for the Red Sox; he went 5 1/3rd innings and gave up 6 hits, including a double to Carlos Gómez. The Rays showed signs of life in the 8th when, after the solo blast by Gómez off Bobby Poyner, Carson Smith gave up a single to Matt Duffy, who stole 2nd to put the tying run in scoring position. Happily, Adeiny Hechavarria flied out to end the threat, and Craig Kimbrel closed out in the 9th. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 3-2, at Tropicana Field. Record: 2-1. Game 3/159.
Sometimes, you only need one. This game featured masterful starting pitching performances both by Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell (5.2 shutout innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 Ks) and Boston starter David Price (7 innings, 4 hits, no runs, no walks, 5 whiffs). Xander Bogaerts had another fine game, posting 2 doubles and scoring the only run, which came in the 7th, when following his double, Rafael Devers drove him in with a single. Eduardo Nuñez also singled in that inning with a Baltimore chop which resulted in a collision by two Rays at first, one of whom seemed to graze his helmet with his foot. The Sox were concerned, however, not because of that, but because he came down hard on is previously injured knee. But he chose to stay in the game. After Price exited, Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless 8th that had just one base runner (Denard Span) on a walk, and Craig Kimbrel finished things off with 3 straight strikeouts. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, at Tropicana Field. Record: 1-1. Game 2/160.
In this first game of the season, the Red Sox were cruising until the 8th, when Joe Kelly and Carson Smith just could not find their form. Chris Sale looked spectacular through 6 innings, giving up just 1 hit and 3 walks while whiffing 9 Tampa Bay Rays. Matt Barnes followed with a completely clean 7th; 3 up, 3 down. Meanwhile, the Sox hitter piled up a solid lead when Rays starter Chris Archer walked JD Martinez in the 2nd, Xander Bogaerts doubled, and Martinez scored on a force play. Then Eduardo Nuñez hit a looping fly ball to left center upon which Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier converged, but neither came up with the ball, as Nuñez raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Bogaerts and Rafael Devers hit back-to-back doubles in the 7th for a 4th Red Sox run. Yep. They seemed to be in control. Then came the 8th. Joe Kelly came on, and never looked comfortable. After walking Daniel Robertson, he managed to whiff Rob Refsnyder before surrendering a massive RBI double to Matt Duffy. After walking 2 to load the bases for Brad Miller, Kelly’s day was done. On came Carson Smith, and with him the proverbial fuel for the fire. He walked Miller to force in a run, then after dispatching Wilson Ramos with a K, gave up a bases clearing triple to Denard Span. Adeiny Hecavarria’s RBI single put the cherry on top for Tampa Bay. What looked like a feel-good opener had turned into a nightmare for Red Sox fans. Oh well, shake it off, there’s a lot of season to go. Tampa Bay defeated Boston, 6-4, at Tropicana Field. Record: 0-1. Game 1/161.
#RedSox Game Summary (September 17) At least someone came to work. Baseball is a tough game to play, and there are many factors that go into a successful day, so it’s not like I am denigrating the rest the team when I say this, but it is notable when just one guy supplies just about all the offense in a game. That guy, this time, was Jackie Bradley, Jr., who drove in both Boston runs with a 2 run jack in the 6th inning off Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi. He also singled in the game. The only other Boston batter with a hit was Andrew Benintendi. Brock Holt walked, and scored on JBJ’s big fly, and Dustin Pedroia also walked. That was it. The rest of the box score is goose eggs. Odorizzi is not that awesome a pitcher; his ERA is 4.46. For his part, Boston starter Eduardo Rodríguez had what most would consider a decent “quality” start. He went 5 2/3rds innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and a walk, with 7 punch-outs. The Rays runs came in the 1st, 5th, and 6th. In the 1st, Kevin Kiermaier singled, reached 2nd on a throwing error, and scored on an Evan Longoria single. In the 5th, the Rays loaded the bases on singles by Jesús Sucre, César Puello, and a walk by Peter Bourjos, followed by a RBI single by Evan Longoria. In the 6th, Sucre homered for the winning run. The Sox could muster nothing in response. Fortunately, the Yankees also lost, so the lead remains 3 in the AL East. Tampa Bay beat Boston, 3-2, at Tropicana Field. Record: 85-64. Game 149/13.