While the game may have been overshadowed by the various trade rumors hovering over the team, the Red Sox were able to hold off the Rays today, avoiding a sweep and effectively ending a five-game losing skid.
As a result of the Red Sox dealing Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants, Allen Webster made his 2014 debut for the Red Sox today. Webster has had a successful season in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 3.10 ERA with a respectable 7.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9; however, he was the clear underdog facing Chris Archer, who had a 3.31 ERA and 3.23 FIP in 20 starts for the Rays this season.
Still, Webster was able to pick up the win in his first start as he allowed just two runs on three hits. However, while the results were good, it still wasn’t an especially encouraging performance from Webster. Webster’s biggest flaw throughout his career has been his lack of control and that issue surfaced once more as Webster walked five batters, punching out four, in only 5.1 innings.
However, while Webster’s season debut drew the headlines entering the game, David Ortiz quickly captured those headlines. In the third inning, David Ortiz came to the plate with two runners on base and one out. On a 3-2 count, Ortiz unloaded on a Chris Archer fastball and crushed it to right field for a three-run blast, scoring both Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead at the time. And while that home run was key in the outcome of the game, it received even more headlines afterwards. As a result of Ortiz’s bat flip, Archer was quoted as saying Ortiz “feels the show is all about him,” leading to yet more controversy between Ortiz and Rays’ pitchers (more on that here from BoSox Injection writer Joe Meehan).
On the side of the Red Sox’ pitchers, Webster allowed two runs to score in the bottom half of the third inning, both coming on a two-run double by Desmond Jennings. However, the third inning would be the only significant inning of the game from an offensive standpoint.
Neither team scored again in the game and it became a battle of the bullpens from the sixth inning forward. A combination of Craig Breslow, Edward Mujica, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara (who picked up his 21st save of the season) shut down the Rays over the final 3.2 innings while a Rays’ group of Cesar Ramos, Kirby Yates, and Jeff Beliveau did the same for Tampa Bay. In fact, aside from the Ortiz controversy, this wound up a relatively boring game amidst the whirlwind of trade rumors.