Unbelievable Rays mistake gifts Red Sox eventual walk-off victory after 12 innings

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Rays were two outs away from an extra-innings victory late on May 14. With runners on the corners in the 11th inning of a 4-3 game, Rob Refsnyder tapped a bouncing grounder to Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Manuel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez fielded the ball as the runners took off from their bases. He looked back to second base, then turned toward home plate with the ball in his glove, but David Hamilton was closing in. Rodriguez was briefly paralyzed by indecision before tossing the ball to first to collect the out of Refsnyder.

But Hamilton's run tied the game at four. Bernardino put a stop to a frightfully close Rays rally in the 12th frame after he let up a leadoff walk, and Romy González in the following half inning sealed the deal for the Boston Red Sox.

González drilled a barely fair line drive into right field and the speedy Connor Wong scored from third to claim a 5-4 extra-innings victory for Boston.

Tampa Bay's infield gaffe un-did an earlier mistake by Ceddanne Rafaela. The Rays claimed their 4-2 lead in the 11th inning after Rafaela bounced a throw that skipped under González's glove at first base. Randy Arozarena scored on the overthrow, but the Rays' lead didn't last long.

Nick Pivetta's second start back from the injured list improved on his first. He fanned eight batters but let up two home runs in 5.2 innings of work. Pivetta's last outing was marred by the Braves' offense, particularly Marcell Ozuna, but it seems the righty has put that start behind him.

Rays fielding mistake hands Red Sox extra-innings victory and first divisional win

Despite the win, Boston's recent struggles at the plate continued. The Red Sox racked up 14 strikeouts and no one on the team collected more than one hit. Rafaela crushed his fourth homer of the season and Dominic Smith broke out of his slump with a two-RBI double, but Boston's bats still have work to do if the Sox hope to spend more time in the win column.

The Red Sox have two more games against the division-rival Rays this series and to win, Boston needs to take both. Boston's record against AL East teams is rough so far — their victory on May 14 is their only one against a divisional opponent so far.

The Red Sox have a chance to separate themselves from the teams at the bottom of the division. Tanner Houck and Cooper Criswell's starts on May 15 and 16, respectively, could help them turn their in-division record around. But Rodriguez's fielding mistake and González's late single were Boston's saviors this time.

More Red Sox reads: