Offense Battles Back, Bullpen Shuts Door And Rays Sweep Doubleheader
After their game was rained out on Wednesday evening the Red Sox wanted to play two games on Thursday afternoon. They gave little consideration towards the Rays in their decision while expanding an exemption in the collective bargaining agreement into the darker shade of the grey area. The Rays have struggled in all facets of the game and the Red Sox wanted to take advantage of the situation. The move may have backfired as the Rays won both games Red Sox to improve their record to 11-16.
The Rays turned a 5-2 deficit after five innings to a 6-5 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth. The Rays cut the lead to 5-4 on a Sean Rodriguez 2-run homer off Felix Doubront in the sixth inning, tied the game in the eighth on a James Loney RBI single off Junichi Tazawa, and took the 6-5 lead on a Yunel Escobar solo home run off Koji Uehara in the ninth inning.
The Red Sox came back in their half of the ninth against Grant Balfour who was looking to notch his second save on the day.
Shane Victorino led off the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a David Ortiz ground ball to James Loney. With one out the Rays pulled the infield in against Mike Napoli but the defense wasn’t needed as Napoli worked the count full before looking at a fastball on the corner for the second out.
With 2-outs Balfour threw three straight balls to Grady Sizemore before coming back with two strikes to run the count full. Balfour lost him to put runners at the corners with 2-out for Xander Bogaerts.
Balfour got Bogaerts looking at strike three to end the game which gave the Rays their first doubleheader sweep at Fenway Park in franchise history.
The win went to Jake McGee (2-0, 2.03 ERA) and Balfour picked up his 6th save of the season.
After the game the Rays Ben Zobrist was still smarting over the Red Sox insistence on the day-night doubleheader:
#rays Zobrist: “it does feel good. I hope everyone enjoys their bobble heads.”
— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) May 2, 2014
Chris Archer looked outstanding over his first four innings and the Rays offense had spotted him a 2-0 lead thanks to a RBI single by James Loney in the second inning and a solo home run off the bat of Desmond Jennings in the fourth.
The wheels came off for Archer in the fifth inning and like so many times as of late he was unable to complete the frame.
Entering tonight’s game the Rays looked to get more than five innings from Archer. If nothing else it would serve as an opportunity to rest the bullpen and to give the team a feel of normalcy. In the 15 games since Alex Cobb was placed on the disabled list the Rays starters have pitched five innings or less in 11 of them. Over those last 15 games, starters have compiled a 6.24 ERA (75-IP, 52-ER) and thrown only 15.1 more innings than the Rays bullpen (59.2).
He walked Xander Boegarts to lead off the inning, retired A.J. Pierzynski, then issued back to back walks to Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. He retired Dustin Pedroia on a shallow fly ball to left but hit Shane Victorino with a pitch to force in a run. David Ortiz hit a 2-RBI single to give the Red Sox the 3-2 lead and Mike Napoli extended the lead to 4-2 with a single ending Archers night.
It was a bad inning and as mentioned continued a disturbing trend:
This is the fourth inning of 5-or-more runs #Rays have allowed on trip, 6th of season. Had 10 ALL of last year
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 2, 2014
Archer had only walked five batters in 30.2 innings coming into the game. His final line tonight was 4.2 innings allowing five runs all earned on three hits matching his season total with five walks striking out three.
The tone of the game shifted in the Red Sox favor in bottom of the fifth but the Rays took a little wind out of Boston’s sails in the top of the sixth. Evan Longoria reached first when neither Will Middlebrooks nor Xander Bogaerts took control of an infield popup. Two batters later Sean Rodriguez hit a 2-run home run to cut the Red Sox lead to 5-4. It was Rodriguez’s fourth home run on the season. It was only his seventh hit of the season and six of them are of the extra hit variety (four home runs, two doubles).
The Red Sox threatened in their half of the eighth thanks to a leadoff double by Xander Bogaerts off Jake McGee. A.J. Pierzynski laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Bogaerts to third but Will Middlebrooks was unable to bring him in and struck out. Jonny Gomes was called on to pinch hit for Jackie Bradley Jr. and drew a four pitch walk to bring up Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox got a lead off double from Shane Victorino in their half of the ninth and moved him to third with one out but were unable to bring him home as Grant Balfour struck out both Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts