The Red Sox got their first look tonight at this season’s edition of the Tampa Bay Rays managed by ex-Red Sox catcher, 37 year old Kevin Cash. The Red Sox sent Wade Miley (0-1, 10.57) to the mound to face the Rays’ lanky righthander Chris Archer (2-1, 1.37 ERA).
The Red Sox got on the board in this game without getting the ball out of the infield in the third inning. With one out Ryan Hanigan legged out an infield hit and Mookie Betts followed with a walk. Dustin Pedroia hit a comebacker to Archer, which looked to be a sure double play, but Betts slid hard into second disrupting the throw from second baseman Ryan Brett whose throw eluded first baseman Logan Forsythe, allowing Hanigan to trot home from third base.
This game was a story of missed opportunities for the Red Sox as they went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, six of them by way of the strikeout by Archer. On at least four of them, Archer would throw a high fastball then the very next pitch a low slider they could not lay off of, swinging and missing at every one. You would think major league hitters would recognize this pattern, but the Red Sox could not. The Red Sox got Archer out of the game with one out in the sixth, the fifth consecutive in which they failed twice with runners in scoring position. Again in the ninth inning, Shane Victorino (who left runners in scoring position three times tonight) doubled to start the inning, but was stranded
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In the sixth inning the Rays loaded the bases on a single to left by Brandon Guyer, in front of left fielder Hanley Ramirez who was playing near the warning track. Two walks followed which ended Miley’s night. Alexi Ogando induced Desmond Jennings to ground out, ending the threat. A combination of Ogando, Robbie Ross Jr. and the routinely brilliant Junichi Tazawa (retiring the side on six pitches) got the ball to Koji Uehara, who allowed a leadoff hit in the bottom of the ninth but nothing else, to preserve the win.
- The Red Sox managed more than seven hits (eight) for the first time in their last six games, going 3-3 in those games. 25 percent of their runs this season have been unearned as the one tonight was.
- Pedroia is one for 14 with runners in scoring position this season, though tonight his infield out resulted in a run.
- Miley picked off his second runner of the season in the third inning
- The last Red Sox starter to pitch seven innings in a game was Rick Porcello, who went eight innings on April 13
- Red Sox caught a break in the sixth inning when Guyer was called out on a bang bang play at second base that seemed to show he was safe, but the umpires did not agree, confirming the call after a replay challenge.
Miley’s reaction of “No, John, No” when Farrell came out in the sixth inning to remove him spoke volumes about Miley’s bulldog attitude. Despite the bases being loaded after two walks, he was still game to finish that inning. He was only at 88 pitches at the time, but an awkward landing after a pitch earlier that inning may have led to his departure from the game. Farrell has been criticized for leaving starters in too long this season, but this was the right move at the time.
The bullpen gave up only a single hit in 3.1 innings, but Ogando’s retiring of Jennings with the bases loaded in the sixth was the key out of the game for the Red Sox. Ogando is an important set-up man in that bullpen, and Farrell needs to know that he can come in and shut the door in close and late situations. Ogando was up to the task and hopefully he will be able to come through in similar situations in the future.
When your team goes 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position and scores a total of one unearned run, that’s the day to give the Game Ball to a guy who breaks up a double play. Betts hard slide into second induced the throwing error that caused the only run of the game to score. Ramirez and Hanigan also had two hits apiece.