In a tense, drama-filled night, the Red Sox walked off the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2. There was so much more to the story here. There was the rain. There were the hit, and otherwise thrown at, batters, and there were the clutch hits by the Red Sox.
The evening started poorly for the Red Sox as leadoff Rays hitter David DeJesus doubled to right field, which Grady Sizemore misplayed into a triple. Ben Zobrist knocked him in with a ground out and the Rays were on the board, 1-0.
In the bottom of the first, the fireworks began. Dustin Pedroia worked a nine-pitch at-bat. Up to the plate walked David Ortiz who had victimized Rays starter David Price for two home runs in the ALDS last year, including one about which Price angrily tweeted right after the game. Price later apologized, but apparently all was not really well as Price drilled Ortiz in the lower back with his second pitch. Ortiz sent a look of frustration out to the mound but did not yet seem angry. Umpire Dan Bellino warned both benches not to have any more incidents like this, which brought Sox manager John Farrell out of the dugout to find out why. Bellino tossed him from the game before much was said leaving bench coach Torey Lovullo in charge.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ortiz’s frustration boiled over to anger as Price nailed Mike Carp with a pitch on his forearm that he was trying to get out of the way and was inches from his head. The benches emptied and Ortiz had to be restrained by several players from trying to get at Price, who calmly stood back like the stoic #1 overall pick that he is. The umpires conferred and decided Price had not intentionally thrown at Carp, so they allowed him to stay in the game. This sent acting manager Lovullo into a tirade in which he threw his hat (a la Earl Weaver) which then prompted his ejection. Next up as manager: third base coach Brian Butterfield.
There was still a game to finish, of course. The Rays added another run to their lead, in the fifth, as Yunel Escobar (who had escalated Sunday’s brawl in Tampa), doubled to left, went to third on a sacrifice, and scored on a single by DeJesus. The Red Sox answered back in the bottom of the inning. Xander Bogaerts (who else) started the rally with a two-out single. Pedroia singled him to second. Ortiz, gaining a bit of payback, lined an 0-2 pitch to left to cut the lead to 2-1. As this inning progressed, the rain, which had fallen before the game, started coming down in buckets.
After notching the first out of the top of the sixth, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman, who was probably about to leave the game anyway due to his pitch count, threw behind Rays superstar third baseman Evan Longoria, resulting in Workman’s immediate injection. Somehow, the umps did not believe Workman’s excuse of the “ball slipped out of my hand in the rain.” The Rays had to know that one was coming, so there wasn’t much reaction from them.
The umps decided to continue the game in the teeming rain, which probably had something to do with the Sox going down in order on eight pitches in the sixth. Rays manager Joe Maddon seems to have more of a 110-pitch limit for Price so he tried to get him through the seventh inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. had other ideas as he fought back from an 0-2 count before lining a single to left. Our man Bogaerts struck again with a double off the Green Monster which plated Bradley Jr., to tie the game at two. Maddon still had faith in his pitcher as Price was left in and retired Pedroia and Ortiz to keep the game tied.
The Red Sox bullpen allowed essentially nothing to the Rays during their time in the game. Two walks are all the Rays could manage. Even the usually unreliable Edward Mujica managed to hold the Rays at bay until the offense could come through.
In the tenth inning, the game ended in one of the most dramatic ways possible, short of a home run. After Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch that he made no effort to avoid, A.J. Pierzynski lofted a high drive to deep right center that Rays right fielder Wil Myers seemed to have a bead on, but center fielder Desmond Jennings had the same idea. Just as Myers reached to catch the ball, Jennings came sliding under him, which knocked the ball out of his glove. As it rolled toward the center field wall, a jubilant Gomes rounded the bases, jumped on home plate, greeted his equally excited teammates, and the celebration began.
Saturday night at Fenway, at 7:15 p.m., the Red Sox try to continue their winning ways as Jake Odorizzi(2-4, 4.56) who shut down the Red Sox last Sunday in Tampa (one run over six innings) starts for the Rays against Rubby De La Rosa for the Red Sox, who is making his season debut.