Rays mount stunning comeback over Red Sox, win 6-4
Boston Red Sox squander late-inning lead, lose to the Tampa Bay Rays
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (Oct. 7, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox 6-4 on Thursday’s Opening Day game. Chris Sale took the ball for Boston, going against Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer. With the loss, the Red Sox will start the season 0-1, while the Rays start 1-0. The game was played at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Fla.
It was a tale of two halves in this affair. Boston quickly got out to a hot start, scoring three fast runs in the 2nd inning. It was headlined by an improbable Eduardo Nunez inside-the-park homerun off a weak flyball to left-center field. The ball landed between Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier, both of whom fell to the ground trying to make a play on it. As it hit the ground, it rolled a good ways away from them in the gap. There was not even a play at the plate.
Chris Sale had a very strong first outing, pitching 6 innings of no-run ball, accompanied by nine strikeouts and three walks. After he came out, Barnes came in and continued what Boston’s ace started. After him, however, the Sox’ fortunate changed real quick.
Joe Kelly came into pitch the 8th, quickly walking a batter. A Matt Duffy double scored the Rays’ first run of the game, as nerves started to mount for the Beantown crew. Kelly ended up walking two more batters, leaving the outing in the middle of the inning with a 4-1 lead and bases loaded with one out.
Manager Alex Cora made his first critical bullpen decision, putting right-handed pitcher Carson Smith into the contest. He began with a run-scoring walk to Brad Miller but followed it with a crucial second-out strikeout on a low and away slider to Wilson Ramos. Boston was a mere out away from getting out of the inning with the lead, but Denard Span had other ideas.
The veteran outfielder took a pitch to deep right field, barely missing a grand slam, and settling for a bases-clearing, go-ahead triple to give the Rays their first lead of the ball game. Smith stayed into finish the inning, allowing another run on a weak groundball up the middle of the field, making it a 6-4 game.
The Red Sox could not mount a 9th-inning comeback and could not get their first win on the young season.
Notes & Opinions
- Xander Bogaerts was crushing the ball out of the 5th hole for the Red Sox. All four balls he put in play were hit with authority, going 3-4 with two doubles in the contest.
- J.D. Martinez failed to record his first hit in a Red Sox uniform, although he did draw a walk.
- Chris Sale was removed from the game after 92 pitches.
- Based on observation from fans and the media, there seems to be some skepticism on why Craig Kimbrel did not warm-up to pitch the crucial 8th inning situation. Here’s what Cora had to say about that:
Cora says Sox weren’t going to bring in Kimbrel before the ninth today; said decision might be different 2 weeks from now. Sox weren’t going to put Poyner in debut with bases loaded in 8th. ‘Carson was the right guy there.’
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 29, 2018
The Boston Red Sox will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:10 p.m. eastern time. This will be the second game of a four-game series between the clubs. David Price will pitch the game for Boston and Blake Snell will do the same for Tampa Bay.