July 14, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) reacts after hitting a Tampa Bay Rays batter in the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Red Sox Fall Back To .500 With 5-3 Loss To Rays

This was my first game back from two weeks from camp, and I was hoping for a good one. For a while, it was just the game I like as it remained a pitching duel for the first three innings. Clay Buchholz was making his first start back from a scary injury with gastrointestinal bleeding and David Price was looking to continue his great season that had seen him go 11-4 with a 2.82 ERA entering last night. The scoreless tie was finally broken by the Rays in the bottom of the third after putting runners on the corners with no outs. Sean Rodriguez‘s deep fly ball was snagged on the run by Jacoby Ellsbury– ending as a sacrifice fly and ending the scoring.

However, the Red Sox got right back to business in the top of the fourth as, with two outs and a man on first base, Will Middlebrooks got ahold of an inside pitch and drove it to left-center for a two-run homer. The Red Sox held that lead about an inning more until the Rays put a runner on third with one out in the fifth. Bobby Valentine decided that even in the fifth inning, he would bring the infield in, and it came back to bite him. A ball that normally would’ve been a routine groundout was muffed by shortstop Mike Aviles– allowing the run to score and tie it at two.

The Red Sox were not the only ones making defensive miscues though, as they took advantage of a few in the sixth. Cody Ross walked with one out and advanced to second on a passed ball. Will Middlebrooks grounded out to second and allowed Ross to move to third– Ross would score on a questionable pickoff attempt at third base by David Price. It took things until the bottom of the seventh for everything to become unraveled for the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz in this game.

The Red Sox left Clay Buchholz in after he walked the leadoff batter and hit the next one. Buchholz allowed Desmond Jennings to lay down a bunt that put runners at second and third with one out. Matt Albers was brought into the game and Bobby Valentine did the smart thing, walking the bases loaded to set up the double play. However, it didn’t seem quite so smart when Matt Albers walked Jose Lobaton to tie the game and when Elliot Johnson hit an easy sacrifice fly to deep center to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

It was in that 4-3 deficit and in the top of the eighth that I saw Bobby Valentine make one of the most stupid managerial decision I had ever seen. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a double to right, putting the tying run on second with no outs. However, with arguably the hottest hitter in baseball stepping up– Pedro Ciriaco (batting .526 at the time)– Valentine decided to bunt. Ciriaco popped up the bunt attempt and the run didn’t score in the inning, but in my opinion– the game was over as soon as Ciriaco popped up that bunt. B.J. Upton‘s moonshot in the eighth was icing on the cake, but I’m still not going to forgive Valentine for that egregious mistake.

Tags: Bobby Valentine Clay Buchholz David Price Elliot Johnson Matt Albers Will Middlebrooks

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