The Red Sox needed 13 innings and 14 hits before Rusney Castillo hit a two run single to give the Red Sox a 2-0 win at Tropicana Field. Rich Hill tossed seven innings of one hit ball and a surprising bullpen shut down of the Rays to take the series in Tampa.
The odyssey of left-hander Hill began on 10/31/14 with a release by the New York Yankees. Since then Hill has gone from the Nationals to Indy ball and to the Red Sox while compiling an International League record of 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA. Hill, a Boston native, is now attempting a comeback as a starter after almost exclusive bullpen work the last five years.
Left-hander Drew Smyly (2-2, 3.59) was making his ninth start this season. Smyly, acquired in the David Price trade with the Tigers, has demonstrated reasonable success against the Red Sox with a 2-1 record and 2.54 ERA in six games (4 starts).
The quest for 500 by David Ortiz is now over so the next target is the Red Sox opportunity to extricate themselves from the basement of the AL East, so that may generate some occasional glances at the schedule and a few yawns. Otherwise the remaining games relegate themselves to observing the promise of the future – which has been performing rather well.
Lost opportunities for Boston
Smyly left Red Sox runners stranded on second in the first two innings while fanning five. In the first Xander Bogaerts, who had singled, was left watching as Travis Shaw struck out. The process was repeated in the second when Castillo, who had also singled, remained on second while Sandy Leon fanned.
For Boston, sprinkled with Pawtucket players, Hill was smooth with three strikeouts and a walk to Tim Beckham being his only blemish in their first two frames. Hill, a quick worker, was mixing a low 90s fastball with a change and curve.
The Red Sox LOB blight continued in the third when Mookie Betts, who had singled, and Bogaerts, who had walked, instigated a double steal only to have Shaw bounce out to first. Three lost opportunities in three innings.
Hill also escaped a mini mess in the last of the third when Evan Longoria popped out to Shaw with two on and two out. Both Hill and Smyly, two far from overpowering lefties, were racking up some K’s with Smyly (8) and Hill (6) getting 14.
Goodbye Smyly and Hill
The Red Sox were about as happy as having a winning scratch ticket when Smyly (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K) was pulled after six innings and 97 pitches and replaced by Steve Geltz. The Sox responded with hits by Allen Craig and Deven Marrero, but Geltz also managed to fan a pair. Tampa manager Kevin Cash brought in Alex Colome with two on and two out and Colome fanned Jackie Bradley to end the threat.
Hill left after seven innings of one hit ball and that hit was a questionable infield single to J.P. Arencibia. Hill was just mystifying to the Tampa hitters who, no doubt, were looking forward to the notably deficient Red Sox bullpen and Jean Machi was coming out to take over for Hill. Machi must have been inspired by Hill since he put down the Rays in the bottom of the eighth with ease to leave it at a 0-0 dual shutout. The effort earned Machi a chance to go another inning.
Tampa brought in their closer, Brad Boxberger, for the ninth and Boxberger finished off the Red Sox 1-2-3 with two strikeouts thrown in. The Rays now had 15 K’s for nine innings.
Machi went one batter deep in the ninth when Marrero made a superb play on a bunt to get the first out. Manager Torey Lovullo then went to the bullpen for Noe Ramirez to face Longoria and Logan Forsythe. Ramirez finished off both and extra innings in a rare nine inning 0-0 game.
Extra inning miss
The story of the day continued for the Red Sox with another missed chance in the tenth. Marrero singled to left to get it started and Leon attempted to bunt. Pop-up. One out. Bradley lined to third for a second out and Betts followed with his third hit. Pedroia grounded to short to end yet another chance.
Inept bunting for Tampa surfaced in the last of the tenth. Ramirez gave a four pitch walk to Steven Souza setting up a bunt situation for Beckham. Beckham failed and eventually flied out. The Sox now went to Tommy Layne. After a lazy fly out to the first batter, Layne threw a four pitch walk to Kevin Kiermaier to put two on for pinch hitter Joey Butler who went fishing on a 3-2 pitch and didn’t catch anything.
With one out in the twelfth Souza lined a doubled down the left field line off of Heath Hembree. With first open the Red Sox put pinch hitter John Jaso on to leave it up to former Red Sox James Loney. Loney rapped a 1-2 pitch to Bogaerts for a nice 6-4-3 DP and on to the 13th.
Sox win it
The Red Sox finally broke through in the 13th. With one out Dustin Pedroia, Bogaerts and Shaw all singled to load up the bases off Enny Romero. Cash opted to go to his bullpen for righty Andrew Bellatti to face Castillo. Castillo smacked a two run line shot to left for the lead and eventually the game.
Robbie Ross has assumed the tenuous role of closer and came in to face the Rays in the bottom of the inning. A two out hit – the Rays third of the day – was the only damage as Ross got save number two.
Romero (0-1) took the loss and Hembree (1-0) took the win.
Game Notes and other
* A Betts third inning single extended his hit streak to 18 games.
* The Rays dropped the name “Devil” in 2008, but the tank with the Manta Rays still remains.
* Smyly tied a career high with 11 K’s.
* The Red Sox lead all of the majors in hitting out of the 9th slot (.263).
* The Rays tank holds 10,000 gallons of water.
* The Red Sox staff has the second highest BABIP (.308) in the AL.
* Tropicana Field was originally built to attract the San Francisco Giants. That deal fell through when the Giants owner, Bob Laurie, backed out of selling the Giants.
* Gabe Kapler managed the Red Sox affiliate in Greenville in 2007. Then returned to the Rays as a player.
* The Rays are dead last in home and road attendance.
* The Red Sox lead the AL in road attendance.
* Greg Blosser, a former Red Sox outfielder, was the first player the Rays ever signed with MLB experience.
* Hill, at age 35, is the third oldest player on the Sox roster.
* In 2010 Daniel Nava and Rays manager Kevin Cash were Boston teammates.
* Tony Saunders was the first player the Rays selected in the expansion draft.
* Ted Williams participated in the ceremonial first pitch at the Rays first ever MLB game.
* The Ted Williams Museum and Hitter’s Hall of Fame is located at Tropicana Field.
* Great play on a bunt by Marrero in the ninth.
* Souza took a double away from Shaw in the 11th.
* Tropicana Field has also gone under the name ThunderDome.
* The Red Sox clinched the 1946 pennant on this date beating the Cleveland Indians on a Williams inside the park home run.
Arguably the best pitching performance of the season for the Red Sox and from just about the last pitcher you would expect. Hill’s first MLB start this decade was 109 pitches with no runs, a lone hit, one walk and ten strikeouts. Hill was masterful with his change, curve and a fastball that kept the Rays hitters off balance all seven innings.
Machi made quick work of the Rays in the eighth with a ten pitch inning (nine strikes) Machi came in for the ninth and retired the only batter he faced thanks to a quality play by Marrero. Ramirez impressed by getting Longoria and Forsythe and then walked the lead off batter on four pitches to start the tenth. Layne got out of a two on jam andAlexi Ogando
was clean in an inning of work. Ross is the closer du jour and held on. The ‘pen provided six innings of no run and two hit relief.
Opportunities lost on several occasions with ten LOB and 2-11 RISP. Plenty of hits but nothing of substances until Castillo got his third hit of the day to drive in both runs.
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