For the second straight night, the Red Sox fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 5-4 in 11 innings on Saturday, this time squandering a one-run lead in the 11th, compared to doing so in the seventh on Friday, to drop back down to 80-74 on the season.
Making his second start of the season for Boston and 15th appearance overall was Travis Lakins, who tossed two perfect innings in his first go at being an opener against the New York Yankees back on September 7th.
Working into the second inning this time around, the right-hander kept the Rays off the scoreboard while yielding one hit and one walk to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
A one-out double from Matt Duffy, followed by Joey Wendle reaching on a fielding error committed by Marco Hernandez in that bottom half of the second put runners at first and second for Tampa Bay.
Lakins was able to get Kevin Kiermaier to ground into a force out for out number two, but Sox manager Alex Cora did not leave him in to face Willy Adames with runners on the corners, instead opting to turn to his bullpen.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 29 (16 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 95.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Obviously not pitching deep enough to factor into the decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.22, Lakins should continue to see some more work out of the ‘pen before seasons end.
In relief of Lakins, left-hander Bobby Poyner inherited a situation in which there were runners at the corners for the Rays with one out to get in the second, and he got that out by fanning Adames on four pitches.
From there, Mike Shawaryn allowed Tampa Bay’s first run of the night to cross the plate in the third on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Travis d’Arnaud and was charged with another when Colten Brewer served up a run-scoring single to the first man he faced in Joey Wendle.
Fortunately for Boston, Wendle’s single got to Mookie Betts in right field rather quickly, and the reigning AL MVP put his arm strength on full display to nab d’Arnaud at home and retire the side.
Ryan Weber sat down the first eight Rays he faced from the middle of the fourth up until Wendle reached on a two-out single in the sixth, making way for Josh Taylor to come in to face the left-handed Kiermaier.
As it turned out though, Taylor did not even have to throw a pitch in the sixth, as Vazquez snuffed out Wendle trying to swipe second base for the third out.
Taylor also came back out for the seventh, but could not sneak a one-out, 1-0, 95 MPH two-seamer past Adamas, who deposited said pitch 462 feet to dead center to make it a 3-1 contest.
Another base hit to follow that mammoth shot up marked the end of Taylor’s evening, so Ryan Brasier wrapped up the seventh by retiring the only two hitters he faced in consecutive order.
Andrew Cashner did the same in the eighth, except with three Rays instead of two and Matt Barnes punched out the side in the ninth to send this one into extra innings knotted at three runs apiece.
In that first extra inning, Brandon Workman did not get off to the best of starts, as he yielded a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows. That would not come back to bite him however. Not with Sandy Leon and Hernandez connecting on a bang-bang play at second to catch Meadows and extinguish the threat.
And in the 11th, moments after his side went up 4-3 on a Mitch Moreland solo blast, Josh Smith began his frame of work by allowing d’Arnaud to reach on a leadoff double moments before giving the game away on a two-run home run off the bat of Nate Lowe.
That homer, coming off a 2-0, 91 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate, put the Rays up 5-4. Another walk-off loss.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Tyler Glasnow for Tampa Bay, someone they had not seen in nearly five months going into the weekend.
Unable to get anything going against the Rays starter, Xander Bogaerts kicked off the scoring for Boston in the fourth by greeting new reliever Yonny Chirinos with a leadoff solo shot to get his side on the board and cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
Fast forward all the way to the eighth, now down by two runs, it was the top of the lineup responding once again, this time with Mookie Betts reaching on a one-out single off of Nick Anderson to bring Rafael Devers to the plate for the second time ever against the Rays right-hander.
On the third pitch he saw from Anderson, a 1-1, 96 MPH four-seamer at the top of the zone, Devers made history on one swing of the bat, becoming the first Red Sox third baseman to ever hit more than 30 home runs in a single season with his 31st of the year.
That 421-foot two-run blast pulled the Sox back even with the Rays at 3-3 and ultimately sent this contest into extra innings for the second straight day.
In extras, or the top of the 11th more specifically, just when it looked like Boston was going to have to settle with trying to force this one to the 12th with two outs in the frame, Mitch Moreland came through in the clutch yet again.
The 34-year-old went deep twice on Friday night, and on the first pitch he saw from Diego Castillo on Saturday, Moreland unloaded on an 87 MPH slider that was essentially right down the middle and sent it 430 feet to center for his 18th of the year.
Moreland’s fifth dinger since returning from the injured list in July gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 4-3, and it probably should have won them this game too, but as already mentioned, the Rays put together a rally of their own in their half of the 11th, one that led to Boston getting walked off on by a final score of 5-4.
Some notes from this loss:
From Red Sox Notes:
From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third installment of this four-game set on Sunday afternoon, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough doing the same for Tampa Bay.
Since the calendar flipped to September, Eovaldi has allowed a total of nine earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings pitched spanning three starts. That’s good for an ERA of 6.08.
In one prior appearance at Tropicana Field, the place Eovaldi once called home, this season, the 29-year-old surrendered three runs on five hits while only recording two outs back on July 22nd, in his first game back since returning from the injured list.
Yarbrough, meanwhile, has struggled recently for the Rays, posting an ERA of 5.40 and batting average against of .259 over his last five starts and 28 1/3 innings of work.
When facing the Red Sox this season, the 27-year-old is 2-0 with a 4.80 ERA over three total appearances (one start) and 15 innings pitched.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox STILL trying to play spoiler.