Never count out the Boston Red Sox. After winning two out of three games, for the second time in recent weeks, against the American League East division leaders the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox found themselves in a dramatic comeback against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was definitely a team effort, but one swing from Xander Bogaerts‘ bat sealed the deal for the comeback to become a victory.
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In front of just over 33 600 people in Fenway Park, Bostonians were treated to an exciting game which started more depressing than anything else. Young pitching ace Chris Archer started on the mound for the Rays against the Red Sox prospect-turned-starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who gave up a lead-off home run to Brandon Guyer to begin the first inning. Not exactly the way the Red Sox wanted to begin a homestand.
It was not like the Red Sox didn’t have their chances early, either. Between the second and third innings, Archer threw three walks and a wild pitch, but Boston kept letting him off the hook. It took Brock Holt to let the flood gates open for the Red Sox, as he hit a sharp single to center to score Travis Shaw from third base.
However, by the seventh inning, the game seems well in hand for Tampa, until reliever Alex Colome came into the game. After starting the inning by allowing two singles, Colome watched as Bogaerts doubled to center field, scoring Mookie Betts to make it 3-2. Designated hitter David Ortiz followed it up with a groundout that cashed in Dustin Pedroia to tie the game. Shaw finished the frame by driving a sacrifice fly to score Bogaerts and take the lead for the first time in the game.
Then, as been often the case when he has come into ballgames as of late, Red Sox reliever Alexi Ogando allowed the Rays to respond. In the top of the eighth inning, he had already inherited a runner from Tommy Layne before walking his first batter and giving up a single to the next one. Next came Grady Sizemore who hit a double to left field, which scored Richie Shaffer and John Jaso, making the lead 5-4 in favor of the Rays, again.
After the next Rays batter was intentionally walked, Ogando got the hook in favor of Jean Machi who was smashed for a sacrifice fly to center field by Forsythe to score Guyer, making it 6-4. However, Machi did get out of the inning without more damage.
That set the table for the big Red Sox comeback in the bottom of the inning.
Xavier Cedeno had come into the game in relief and struck out the first two Red Sox batters. That’s as good as the frame got for the Rays. Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by the very next pitch, which was the last pitch for Cedeno. Brandon Gomes came into the game and allowed a single by Betts and another single by Pedroia to load the bases. On a 2-2 count, Bogaerts drilled an 84-mph slider over the Green Monster in left field for a grand slam. The blistering blast put the Red Sox on top 8-6.
A Shaffer solo homer in the top of the ninth wasn’t enough for the Rays to mount a comeback of their own. The Red Sox won the game 8-7. Machi was the pitcher on record for the victory and Robbie Ross Jr. earned his fifth save of the season.
- The Red Sox went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. The Rays went 3-for-9 and left 11 on base.
- As a team, Boston had 10 hits, eight RBIs, six walks, and seven strikeouts. The Rays had 11 hits, but the grand slam by Bogaerts was too much for them to overcome.
- Betts continues his hot hitting streak, going 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored, raising his batting average to .289. Don’t expect Betts to lose his leadoff spot in the lineup any time soon, nor possibly in 2016 either.
- Pedroia went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored, holding his batting average above .300, after coming back from injury weeks ago.
He battled for six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. His location wasn’t the greatest, but he did what the team needed him to do. Rodriguez threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes, to last long enough for the bullpen to take over in the seventh inning. Giving up three runs isn’t fantastic, but you’d like to think that the offense can cover that run total for the starter.
Almost every single Red Sox relief pitcher gave up at least a run. Even Machi, who didn’t record a run but put the ball in play for the Rays to sacrifice and cash in the runner already on base. Not exactly a shutdown performance. As a group, they gave up four runs, one more than Rodriguez, in only three innings of work.Heath Hembree
didn’t give up a run, but he lasted only 0.2 innings after a hit and two walks. Even the game ball winner gave up a run, but at least he salvaged the game by lasting the entire ninth inning and stopped the bleeding before the Rays could tie it up.
A harsh grade for eight runs? Well, that’s because of a couple of factors. The first one being that only the first three Red Sox batters, with the exception of Holt in the seven-spot, did anything at the plate. Betts, Pedroia, and Bogaerts combined for seven hits and crossed the plate six times. Ortiz and Shaw chimed in for an RBI apiece, but the offense came from the first three men setting the pace. And, the other factor was Bogaerts big shot over the Monster. If the bases weren’t loaded, the Red Sox might not have been celebrating the victory last night. It was great to see the runs, and they did apply pressure to the Rays pitchers, but you can’t always count on just three guys to pull their weight on nights like that.
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