Pinch Hit Grand Slam Stuns Rays, Fall 7-3 To Red Sox

The Tampa Bay Rays frustrating run of baseball continued as they were defeated by the Boston Red Sox 7-3 on a pinch hit Grand Slam off the bat of Mike Carp in the 10th inning.  Koji Uehara (4-0, 1.08 ERA) got the win and Joel Peralta (2-7, 3.03 ERA) took the loss.

The Rays remain 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 for the top wild card spot. Their wild card lead on the second spot has been cut to 1 game as the New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-4. With the loss the Orioles join the Cleveland Indians 1.5 games back after losing 6-2 to the Kansas City Royals who are now only 2 games back.

Cobb_BOS_SEA_SEPTThings were looking up for the Rays who trailed for most of the evening as they tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the 8th on a solo homer off the bat of James Loney but were unable to walk off in the 9th.

The game remained tied until the top of the 10th when Joel Peralta entered. He issued a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia who advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Victorino. Peralta intentionally walked David Ortiz  and was then removed from the game in favor of Roberto Hernandez who was called upon to get a ground ball.

Hernandez didn’t stay on script and  walked Mike Napoli on 4 pitches. Mike Carp was inserted into the game as a pinch hitter and despite having Cesar Ramos, Brandon Gomes, and Josh Lueke available in the bullpen Maddon decided to stick with Hernandez. His first pitch to Carp found the strike zone and was deposited over the wall in straight away center field for a pinch hit grand slam which gave the  Red Sox a commanding 7-3 lead.

Alex Cobb worked 5.2 innings allowing 3R/ER on 7 hits striking out 4 and walking 3. Wesley Wright came in with 2-on and 2-out in the 6th to record the final out of the 6th.  Jamey Wright (0.1 IP) and Jake McGee (0.2 IP) combined to work a scoreless 8th inning.

Ryan Dempster  worked the first 5 innings allowing 1R/ER on 4 hits striking out 7 and walking 5. Franklin Morales took over for Dempster to start the bottom of the 6th and held the Rays off the board. Brandon Workman came and allowed single runs in the 7th and 8th innings.

The Red Sox jumped ahead 3-0 in the 3rd inning. With 1-out and runners at 2nd and 3rd in the top of the 3rd the Rays elected to intentionally walk David Ortiz which brought Mike Napoli to the plate. Not a bad strategy considering that David Ortiz has the American Leagues highest batting average of any left handed batter versus right handed pitching hitting .343 (98 for 286) with 21 home runs.

Unfortunately, Napoli has thrived in his opportunities with the bases loaded this year hitting .500 (10 for 20) with 3 HR and 29 runs driven in. He sent a line drive to right that clanked off a diving Wil Myers allowing two runs to score and moved David Ortiz into 3rd and Napoli pulled into 2nd with a double. Daniel Nava followed with a ground ball to second to to drive Oritz home with the Red Sox third run.

The Rays cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the 3rd. Yunel Escobar led off with a double and came home on a David DeJesus double. After the back to back doubles Ryan Dempster seemed to settle down striking out Wil Myers and retiring Ben Zobrist on a ground out to 2nd but then hit Evan Longoria and walked Matt Joyce to load the bases.

He had the Rays right where he wanted them. With 2-out and the bases loaded on the year the Rays entered the night as the leagues worst hitting team posting a batting average of .118 (6 for 51) . Their is staggering .049 point gap between the Rays and the next worst team the Baltimore Orioles who hit .167 (8 for 48) in that situation.

Entering tonight’s action the Rays had struggled with the base loaded going 0 for their last 10 and 2 for their last 20 including hitting into 7 double plays.

Desmond Jennings stepped up and hit sent Ryan Dempsters first pitch scorching toward left field. Stephen Drew dove to snare the ball and threw to Dustin Pedroia to diffuse the Rays rally and continue their misery with the bases loaded.

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Jennings would not have to wait long before having another opportunity to hit with the bases loaded and two outs. The situation came up again in the bottom of the 5th and this time no defense was needed as Jennings chased a 90-mph fastball up in the zone. After the 3rd inning ground out and the 5th inning strike out the Rays are now hitting .113 (6 for 53) on the year.

The Rays nearly turned a triple play in the top of the 6th inning.  Daniel Nava led off the inning with a single and moved to second a Stephen Drew single. After a trip to the mound by pitching coach Jim Hickey Cobb got Middlebrooks to chop a curveball to Evan Lonoria who was shaded toward the line. Longoria landed and stepped on the 3rd and fired to Ben Zobrist for the second out and Middlebrooks barely beat the relay throw.

With action in the bullpen Cobb now had an opportunity to escape the jam but walked David Ross to bring Joe Maddon out of the dugout and Wesley Wright out of the pen. Wright retired Jackey Bradley Jr. on a ground out to Ben Zobrist.

Jamey Wright came in to start the top of the 7th and allowed a leadoff single to Dustin Pedroia before striking out Shane Victorino. Jake McGee came in to face David Ortiz and got him to ground into a double play to end the inning.

The Rays cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2 with a 2-out rally off Brandon Workman in the bottom of the 7th. With 2-out Ben Zobrist drew a walk. It was Zobrist’s 460th career walk tying a Rays franchise record with Carlos Pena.  Evan Longoira followed with a double to chase Zobrist home. Matt Joyce had an opportunity to tie the game but struck out to end the inning.

Red Sox manager John Farrell elected to stay with Workman in the 8th inning and with 1-out James Loney hit his 12th homer to tie the game at 3-3.

Fernando Rodney came in to work the 9th against a Red Sox squad that he has had trouble with all year. In 5 appearances he had allowed 5 earned runs to score despite holding the Sox to a .176 (3 for 17) average against. Control had been his trouble spot walking 7 (1 intentional) of the 24 batters he faced.  Control was not an issue tonight as he retired the side in order including 2 strikeouts.

Koji Uehara entered the ninth inning having retired the last 31 hitters he had faced. He struck out Kelly Johnson and Wil Myers and retired Ben Zobrist on a ground ball to 2nd to extend his streak to 34 hitters. In addition to his impressive consecutive batters retired streak he extends his streak of not allowing a home run or earned run in an appearances to 32,2 innings. A streak which dates back to June 30th when Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays homered against him.

Joel Peralta came in to work the 10th against the top of the Red Sox order and put himself in hot water by walking Dustin Pedroia to open the frame. Shane Victorino moved Pedroia into scoring position with a sacrificed bunt to bring David Ortiz to the plate.

Despite Peralta holding left handed hitters to a .173 average (22 for 127) with first base open the decision was made to intentionally walk David Ortiz. With 1-out and Mike Napoli due up the Rays needed a ground ball for a double play and for that Joe Maddon called on Roberto Hernandez who has the fifth highest ground ball rate in the American League at 53.3% (minimum 130 IP).

Hernandez walked Napoli on 4-pitches to load the bases.  With Jonny Gomes  due up John Farrell opted to go with pinch hitter Mike Carp who unloaded on the first pitch, a letter high fastball, for a grand slam over the wall in center to put the Red Sox ahead 7-3.  It was the 17th homer Hernandez had given up to a left handed batter this season.

Junichi Tazawa held the Rays scoreless to end the game.

I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.