After taking two out of three from the Blue Jays earlier in the week, the Red Sox welcomed the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three game weekend set. The Rays, who entered last night’s contest with six straight wins, sent their best starter, Blake Snell to the mound, while Drew Pomeranz got the nod for the Red Sox in what would be his second start of the season.
To be fair, I don’t think Pomeranz was awful last night. Yes, he gave up three home runs, but the only other hits he gave up were three singles, and he only walked two. So really, it was a typical early season Drew Pomeranz start. If all three of those homers were solo shots, then he would have only surrendered three runs in five innings. Not bad, but unfortunately, one of those homers was a two-run blast, and that put the Red Sox down by two runs before they even got their first at bats. Fast forward to Pomeranz’s last inning of work, and Christian Vazquez showed off his cannon behind the plate with this impressive strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.
The lefty also fanned three and finished with just 81 pitches, 49 of which went for strikes. He’ll look to rebound next time out when he goes up against the Kansas City Royals.
In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen shut the Rays down for the next four innings. In a sort of long-relief role, Hector Velazquez impressed yet again as he held Tampa Bay scoreless in 3.1 innings pitched while walking one and scattering four hits.
After Velazquez walked Denard Span with one out in the ninth, it was Heath Hembree who would get the call to keep the Red Sox within the one run they were trailing by. Well, with some help from Christian Vazquez, who caught Span stealing second, and a five pitch strikeout of Matt Duffy, Hembree got out of the inning unscathed.
Offensively, the Red Sox lineup could not do much against Rays lefty Blake Snell. He held the Sox hitless through the first four innings and scoreless through the first five. It wasn’t until Christian Vazquez led the sixth inning off with a double where the Red Sox finally got some runs on the board. Mookie Betts drove the catcher in on a double to center field, picking up his 18th RBI of the season, and two batters later, JD Martinez did the same thing with a double of his own to right field. That scored Betts from Second and cut the Rays lead in half.
Move ahead to the eighth, and Betts and Martinez came through once again. After a one out double from Betts, Martinez barely got a single through the infield that scored Betts from second. That RBI single put the Miami native at 20 for the season and it cut the Red Sox deficit to just one run.
With one last chance in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts got the inning started by singling off Rays closer Alex Colome. Good start, but Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by popping out and striking out. Andrew Benintendi came on to pinch it for Christian Vazquez, and it was all up to him with two outs. After filling the count at 3-2, Colome got Benintendi looking at a 94 MPH fastball on the outside edge to end things.
No excuses there, that is definitely a pitch you should be swinging at with a full count in the ninth inning.
Anyway, on a more positive note, Xander Bogaerts made his return to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since April 8th and he reached base three times. Solid night, and it could not come at a better time with Brock Holt headed to the disabled list with a hamstring issue.
Next up for the Red Sox is the middle game of this series. David Price will be getting the ball against Rays righty Yonny Chirinos. First pitch is at 4:05 PM. Time to end the Rays winning streak at seven games.