Feaured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (April 29, 2018 – Source: Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)
The Boston Red Sox entered Sundays game looking for their 20th win of the season for the third straight game. They dropped the first two games to the Tampa Bay Rays, and needed a win in order to avoid the dreaded sweep. Rick Porcello took the mound for the Red Sox, throwing 7.2 innings of three-run baseball en route to the 4-3 Sox victory.
Boston Red Sox avoid sweep, win 4-3
The game remained scoreless until the third inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Porcello left a hanging slider over the plate for Denard Span. The center fielder took advantage of Porcello’s mistake, launching the ball over the Red Sox dugout. It was the first home run Porcello allowed all season, making the score 2-0.
The Rays found their way on the board in the very next inning. After giving up a double, Porcello allowed a Brad Miller single into right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. tried to throw out the runner at home, but it was too little, too late. For what it’s worth, this run should be chalked up more to Eduardo Nunez than Porcello. Miller hit a weak chopper that Nunez just couldn’t get to. Were Dustin Pedroia or even Tzu-Wei Lin playing second, that’s probably an out.
The Red Sox dead bats looked like they might find life in the bottom of the fourth. Hanley Ramirez was hit by pitch, while JD Martinez launched a single into left on the next at bat. With only one out, the Sox were in position to close the gap. Alas, Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers couldn’t finish the job, and the Sox left the inning scoreless.
The bats finally made some noise in the bottom of the sixth. Nunez, Andrew Benintendi, and Ramirez led off the inning with consecutive singles, and JD Martinez walked into the batters box with the bases loaded and nobody out. Martinez answered the call, driving a two-run single to left field to bring the Sox within one. Moreland followed that up with a four-pitch walk, and the bases were loaded once again. After a Rafael Devers strikeout, Bradley drove a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game up, 3-3.
Porcello went 1.2 more scoreless innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen. The Sox immediately turned to Craig Kimbrel, and at first it looked like he’d make his way out of the eighth rather easily. The closer induced a seemingly simple fly ball to left, which appeared destined to end the inning.
However, Martinez misplayed the ball, landing over his head. It ended up going as a double, and suddenly the Rays had runners on second and third with two outs. Fortunately, Kimbrel is a monster, and struck out the next batter on three pitches to end the inning.
Martinez redeemed himself in the bottom of the eighth. The left fielder began the inning with a single to right, and Sandy Leon drove him home three batters later on a double. The score made it a 4-3 game, and for the first time all afternoon, the Red Sox had the lead.
The Red Sox can’t make anything easy, as the bottom of the ninth was a wild affair. Kimbrel gave up a leadoff single before a poor fielding decision by Rafael Devers put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over to second and third with just one out. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel is amazing, and he struck out the next two. It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be.