Cole Figueroa Delivers Walk Off Double To Send Rays To Victory
For the second night in a row the Tampa Bay Rays got a walk off hit. Last night it was Sean Rodriguez who delivered the big three run homer to deliver the Rays victory. Tonight it was Cole Figueroa pinch hitting for Sean Rodriguez that delivered the walk off double to drive in Desmond Jennings with the winning run to give the Rays the 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Juan Carlos Oviedo (1-0, 1.72 ERA) gets the win and the Rays improve to 21-28 on the year and escape the cellar of the American League East for the first time in 17 days. Andrew Miller (1-3, 2.91 ERA) takes the loss as the Red Sox dropped their seventh straight game to fall to 20-27 on the year.
James Loney led off the inning by popping out to shortstop Xander Bogaerts but Andrew Miller walked Desmond Jennings. With Sean Rodriguez due up Manager John Farrell went to his bullpen and summoned right hander Burke Badenhop. Joe Maddon countered with left handed batter Cole Figueroa.
Figueroa had been told to be ready to pinch run in the event that James Loney got on base to lead off the inning. When that didn’t happen the pinch hitting assignment came on short notice. “Davey [Martinez] came over and he said ‘if the righty comes in, we’re going to pinch hit and you’re going to go up there and win the game for us.”
Badenhop delivered a first pitch strike and the Rays bench called for a hit and run but the Red Sox bench called for a pitch out but Jennings beat catcher A.J. Pierzynski‘s throw and was in scoring position.
Badenhop jumped ahead 1-2 in the count but Figueroa was given a tip from Evan Longoria who had told him that with two strikes Badenhop likes to try to sneak one inside. The pitch leaked over too far over the plate and Figueroa lined it into the alley in right for the game winning walk off double.
According to Figueroa he had never had a walk off hit in the minors, college, or high school but “maybe tee-ball.” After Desmond Jennings crossed home plate and the Rays dugout sprinted out toward centerfield to mob him he did his best Tanner from the Bad News Bears impression but eventually was surrounded by his teammates in celebration.
Chris Archer Stellar In Delivering Quality Start
Chris Archer entered the game not having gone six innings in a start since April 25 against the White Sox in Chicago and had pitched 5.2 innings or less in four starts marking the longest such streak in his career.
He was looking to build off a very successful start his last time out when he held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on just two hits striking out five and walking five over 5.2 innings of work.
He ended his streak delivering six scoreless innings on just four hits striking out 11 and walking four. He set a career high in pitches with 119 (previous high 112 vs Houston on July 14, 2o13) and tied a career high with 11 strikeout s tying his output on September 8, 2012 versus the Texas Rangers. It was his fourth quality start of the season.
The Red Sox mounted a pair of two out rallies in the first and second inning. Dustin Pedroia drew a 2-out walk and moved to second on a softly hit opposite field single by David Ortiz but Archer came back to strike out Mike Napoli to end the threat.
The Red Sox best chance against Archer came in the top of the fifth inning as Brock Holt led off with a double but Xander Boegarts struck out looking and Dustin Pedroia swung through an Archer fastball for the second out. Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey made a visit to the mound to give Archer a breather before intentionally walking David Ortiz to bring Mike Napoli to the plate. The move worked as Napoli lined out to shortstop Yunel Escobar to end the inning.
John Lackey Shuts Rays Down With Seven Strong Innings
Entering tonight’s start against the Rays John Lackey had thrown at least five inning in 33 consecutive starts dating back to May 19, 2013. Thus far in 2014 he had limited the opposition of six of his nine starts which is tied for fifth best in the American League. The last time he faced the Rays was back on April 29th picking up the win allowing just two earned runs on six hits striking out five and walking one over eight innings of work.
The Rays had their opportunities against Lackey as well.
In the first inning Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce hit back to back one out singles but Wil Myers hit into a fielders choice to erase Joyce at second and James Loney grounded out to third to end the inning.
Longoria singled with one out in the sixth inning and Matt Joyce followed with a walk to put runners at first and second with one out. For the second time in the game Wil Myers hit into a fielders choice to leave it up to James Loney to come up with the key hit and he grounded out to short.
The Rays tried to play small ball int eh seventh inning as Desmond Jennings reached on a throwing error by Red Sox third baseman Brock Holt. Sean Rodriguez laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Jennings into scoring position but Yunel Escobar grounded out to short and Ryan Hanigan grounded out to third.
Lackey stifled the Rays for seven innings departing after David DeJesus led off the eighth with a single. He allowed five hits struck out three and walked one.
Juan Carlos Oviedo Picks Up Long Awaited Victory
After Jake McGee worked a scoreless seventh on just five pitches and Joel Peralta worked a scoreless eighth the Rays turned to Juan Carlos Oviedo to work the ninth in a role usually reserved for the team’s closer (tie game at home).
He allowed a leadoff single to A.J. Pierzynski who was thrown out at second base on an attempted sacrifice bunt attempt by Shane Victorino. To make matters worse for the Red Sox Victorino had to leave the game with a strained hamstring.
He Figueroa’s double he picked up his first big league win since August 1st of 2011.