It’s always nice to win the first game of a series. It’s especially nice when it’s against a Boston Red Sox team that swept the Rays in Fenway Park a month ago and when it’s the first game of 12 in a row against division rivals. The Rays won their 6th game in a row defeating the Boston Red Sox by a final score of 5-3. The victory improves the Rays to a season high 2 games over .500 at 20-18 and the Red Sox lost their 3rd game in a row and their record falls to 22-18.
With the victory Matt Moore (7-0, 2.44 ERA) becomes the first Ray to ever win his first 7 decisions and the first starter in the American League to reach the 7 victory mark this season. After an erratic first inning in which he allowed a 3 run home run to David Ortiz he settled in and retired the next 12 batters in a row. In 6 innings of work he allowed 3R/ER on 3 hits while striking out 8, walking 2, and hitting a batter.
Jake McGee came in and although he had tremendous velocity his control was missing as he threw 14 strikes and 13 balls. He retired two hitters but he also issued two walks before departing with runners at 1st and 2nd and 2-out in the 7th. Josh Lueke came in and retired Shane Victorino on a line drive to first baseman James Loney to end the threat.
Joel Peralta won’t get credit for a save but he did the heavy lifting for the Rays pen. He sliced through the heart of the Red Sox order in the 8th inning retiring Dustin Pedroia on a grounder back to the mound, David Ortiz on a fly out to center, and struck out Mike Napoli.
Overall, after David Ortiz’s 3-run homer in the first the Rays pitching staff allowed 1 hit in 8.2 innings.
John Lackey (1-4, 4.05 ERA) worked 4.1 innings allowing 5R/ER on 9 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1. The Red Sox bullpen worked the final 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball. Andrew Miller 0.2 innings, Clayton Mortensen 1.2 innings, Craig Breslow 1.0 innings, and Alex Wilson 0.1 innings.
The player of the game for the Rays was Jose Molina who was 3-3 with a double, 2-RBI, a sacrifice bunt, and set the tone for the game with aggressive base running. Of note, James Loney had another multi-hit (2 for 4) game to improve his average to .381.
The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first inning after David Ortiz launched a poorly located fastball from Matt Moore deep into the seats in right field to score Jacoby Ellsbury who reached base on a hit by pitch (shoulder) and Dustin Pedroia who lined a double off the 3rd base bag. The home run broke an 0-28 string with runners in scoring position against Moore this season.
The Rays threatened in the 3rd loading the bases with 2-outs but John Lackey retired Ben Zobrist on a ground out to end the inning but the Rays forced him into making 22 pitches. After Matt Moore made quick work of the Red Sox in the top half of the inning he was right back out in the center of the diamond and the Rays continued to apply the pressure.
The bottom of the 4th began with Evan Longoria working the count full before serving an innocent single to center field, advanced 1st to 3rd on a hard hit single by James Loney, and came in to score on a check swing blooper off the bat of Luke Scott that landed softly over 3b Will Middlebrooks head advancing Loney to third ans Scott checking in at 2nd base with a double.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd and nobody out the Red Sox infield was playing back giving up a run on a ball put in play on the ground but Kelly Johnson was unable to deliver striking out but Jose Molina picked up his teammate and lined a single plating both Loney and Scott to tie the game at 3-3.
Molina continued to set the tone with aggressive baserunning- no that isn’t a typo. After advancing to 2nd on a Yunel Escobar single he surprised Jacoby Ellsbury by tagging up to 3rd on a medium deep fly ball off the bat of Desmond Jennings and Escobar moved up to 2nd base. Both Molina and Escobar would come around to score when Matt Joyce sent a high pop up in the infield that Mike Napoli lost in the Trop’s ceiling and fell in for a single scoring both Molina and Escobar to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.
The Rays will look for their 7th victory in a row tomorrow night as David Price (1-3, 4.78 ERA) takes the mound against the Red Sox Jon Lester (5-0, 2.73 ERA). It will be the rematch of the April 13th duel between the two lefties in which neither pitcher received a decision as the Red Sox won 2-1 in 10 innings.