The Red Sox powered up to a 5-1 lead and then watched it evaporate as the Rays came from behind for a 7-5 win.
Is there any truth to the rumor that Six Flags New England has a new roller coaster tentatively called “The Red Sox Rotation Coaster?” The coaster will have sharp rises and equally sharp falls that is rapidly becoming the trademark for the 2015 rotation.
Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley managed varying degrees of redemption after some doggerel starts. The latest to attempt a mini reclamation was Joe Kelly coming on the heels of 118 pitch effort for 5.2 innings.
Kelly may not have reached the nadir of his fellow staff members, but a Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch count gives the bullpen an early workout. Kelly would face off against Tampa’s Nate Karns in the second game of the series and for five innings Kelly was masterful and then disintegrated in the sixth.
When you make solid contact with a 95 MPH fastball, it moves quickly and that is what Steven Souza did in the first with a long home run to left center to give the Rays a quick lead. Kelly, however, baffled the other three Rays and had three punch outs.
The Red Sox first hit gave them the lead. Mookie Betts managed a one out walk and Dustin Pedroia put one 15 rows deep into the left field stands for his fourth of the young season. The Sox still had another run in them thanks to an impetuous Hanley Ramirez base running play.
Ramirez drew a walk and when Mike Napoli shot Karns 63rd pitch up the middle Hanley developed a sudden desire to imitate Usain Bolt and score. Blowing through a Brian Butterfield stop sign Ramirez easily and surprisingly scored to put Boston up 3-1.
In the fifth inning David Ortiz prevented his average from slipping under .200 by placing a Karns fastball deep into the right field stands to stretch out the Boston lead to 4-1.
The Red Sox expanded their lead in the top of the sixth.
Ryan Hanigan hit a double to left center and trotted to third on a passed ball. With the infield in Betts poked a RBI single to right and Boston appeared to have a comfortable lead at 5-1. Not so.
Kelly’s sixth inning started with four straight singles and finished with a four pitch bases loaded walk that brought in Craig Breslow. Breslow gave up a two strike single to Brandon Guyer and the game was tied at 5-5 and a battle of the bullpens commenced.
In the last of the seventh singles by Evan Longoria and Asdrubal Cabrera had runners on the corners. A double play got the run home but Jake Elmore took a two out Edward Mujica pitch deep to expand the Rays lead. That was also Elmore’s first at bat as a Ray. A Mujica walk ended his evening and in came Anthony Varvaro.
The Rays bullpen was, unlike Boston’s, up to the task at hand and kept the visitors off the board. Brad Boxberger picked up his first win and struck out the 3-4-5 hitters for Boston in his lone inning of work. Steve Geltz got the save and Mujica took the loss.
* Shane Victorino left the game with hamstring tightness.
* The Red Sox have yet to lose a season series.
* In 2014 after 14 games the Red Sox were 5-9.
* Entering the game the Red Sox were 10/10 on SB attempts.
* Tampa first baseman Allan Dykstra is no relation to Lenny Dykstra.
* Tampa manager Kevin Cash was briefly Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher.
* As of 4/21 all teams in the AL East were .500 or better on the road.
For five innings Kelly was about as good as it gets with one run allowed and issuing no walks and striking out seven. Then he imploded with a string of singles and capped off his outing with a bases loaded walk with no outs. With a four run lead and an anemic Tampa lineup this is inexcusable. Kelly’s final line was five runs allowed on eight hits.
Breslow gave up a bases loaded two strike single to tack two more runs onto Kelly’s stat line. Mujica allowed two runs on three hits in his one inning. Varvaro shut down the Tampa bats.
Both teams had several sub .200 hitters in the lineup.Pablo Sandoval
went 0-4 with four LOB.Xander Bogaerts
is now 0-14 and has slipped under .300. Pedroia had two hits. Red Sox were 1-7 in RISP
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