The Red Sox fell to the Rays by a final score of 5-4 at Tropicana Field on Thursday night. Boston winds up getting swept by Tampa Bay in four games to drop to 47-43 on the season.
Kutter Crawford, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, pitched well. The rookie right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts over six-plus innings of work.
All three runs Crawford gave up came in the bottom half of the seventh. After cruising through six scoreless frames on 82 pitches, the Okeechobee, Fla. native came back out for the seventh with a 3-0 lead in hand.
Having retired each of the last 10 batters he faced, Crawford yielded a leadoff double to Jonathan Aranda to begin things in the seventh. A Christian Bethancourt single put runners on the corners for Josh Lowe, who plated the Rays’ first run on an RBI double that also chased Crawford from the game.
John Schreiber was then dispatched out of the Red Sox bullpen, inheriting a situation in which runners were at second and third and there were still two outs to get. Schreiber allowed both runners he inherited to score on a game-tying, two-run single to Taylor Walls.
That closed the book for Crawford, who finished with a final pitch count of 91 (61 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler induced a total of 13 swings-and-misses while mixing in his four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, slider, and changeup.
After plunking Luke Raley, Schreiber served up another two-run single to Yandy Diaz that gave the Rays their first lead of the night at 5-3. Schreiber got through the rest of the seventh with the help of an Alex Verdugo outfield assist before making way for Darwinzon Hernandez.
Hernandez, making his season debut for the Sox, needed just 12 pitches (eight strikes) to strike out two and retire the side in order in the bottom of the eighth to keep the deficit at two runs.
To that point in the contest, the Boston lineup had been limited to just three runs. Rafael Devers got the scoring started by golfing his 20th home run of the season off Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen in the fourth inning. Devers’ solo blast left his bat at 103.4 mph and traveled 393 feet to right field.
Fast forward to the sixth, Jarren Duran reached base on a one-out single, stole second base, and advanced to third on a Devers groundout. He then scored from third on a wild pitch that allowed J.D. Martinez to move up to second after drawing a two-out walk.
Xander Bogaerts wasted no time in driving in Martinez by roping a 102.8 mph RBI double to the right-center field gap. That gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead, though it was not long-lived.
Down to their final three outs and trailing by two runs in the ninth, the Sox made things interesting against old friend Jalen Beeks. Bogaerts led off with a single and scored all the way from first on a hard-hit RBI double from Verdugo. But Verdugo was left at second base as the pinch-hitting Christian Vazquez popped out, Kevin Plawecki walked, the pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec struck out, and Jeter Downs grounded out to end things there.
With the loss, the Red Sox have dropped eight of their last 10 games and are now 4-10 in the month of July.
Next up: Eovaldi returns for series opener in the Bronx
The Red Sox will head north to open a three-game weekend series against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday night. Boston will activate right-hander Nathan Eovaldi from the injured list to start the opener. New York will counter with left-hander Jordan Montgomery.
First pitch from Yankee Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)