Garrett Whitlock gives up 3 home runs in season debut as Red Sox drop second straight to Rays, 7-2

The Red Sox dropped their second straight to the unbeaten Rays on Tuesday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 7-2 at Tropicana Field to drop back below .500 at 5-6 on the season.

Garrett Whitlock made his first start of the year for the Sox after being activated from the injured list earlier in the afternoon. In his 2023 debut, the right-hander surrendered five earned runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over five innings of work.

The Rays got to Whitlock right away in the bottom of the first. Yandy Diaz led off with a single and scored on a two-out RBI double off the bat of Wander Franco that fell in and out of the glove of a diving Rob Refsnyder in center field. An inning later, Josh Lowe doubled Tampa Bay’s lead by singling with two outs, stealing second base, and scoring from second on a Vidal Brujan RBI single.

Whitlock then began to fall victim to the long ball. After getting through a scoreless third inning, the righty gave up his first of three home runs to Isaac Paredes with two outs in the fourth. In the fifth, Diaz and Brandon Lowe went back-to-back on a pair of two-out solo shots to put the Rays up, 5-0.

Though Whitlock ended things in the fifth, the damage had already been done. The 27-year-old hurler finished with 85 pitches (62 strikes) and induced 11 swings-and-misses. He averaged 93.5 mph and topped out at 95.4 mph with his sinker, a pitch he threw a game-high 49 times.

With Whitlock’s day done, a hapless Red Sox lineup finally broke through against Rays ace Shane McClanahan in the top of the sixth. There, Devers led off with a walk and went from first to third on a Justin Turner single. Tampa Bay then pulled McClanahan in favor of fellow lefty Garrett Cleavinger, who got Masataka Yoshida to ground into a 4-6-3 double play that Devers was able to score on.

After Richard Bleier put up a zero in the bottom of the sixth, though, the Rays responded in the seventh. Kaleb Ort served up a leadoff homer to Josh Lowe. Four batters later, Diaz scored from third on a Randy Arozarena grounder that was mishandled by first baseman Triston Casas, who was charged with a fielding error as Tampa Bay extended its lead to six runs at 7-1.

Following a 1-2-3 eighth inning from Ryan Brasier, the Red Sox strung together a rally of sorts in the ninth. Alex Verdugo and the pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia both singled off Rays reliever Calvin Faucher before Reese McGuire plated Verdugo from second on a base hit of his own. Enrique Hernandez then struck out on six pitches to end it, meaning he is now 0 for his last 27 at the plate.

All told, Boston mustered just six hits in another low-scoring loss. Three of those six hits came in the ninth inning. Two of them belonged to Reese McGuire, who came off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

With the win, the Rays move to a perfect 11-0 to start the season, which is something that has not been done since 1987 when the Brewers started 13-0. Also of note, the Red Sox have now lost 11 straight games at Tropicana Field.

Wong throws out two base stealers

Coming into play on Tuesday, the Red Sox had allowed 15 consecutive successful stolen base attempts to start the season. Josh Lowe made that 16 by swiping second base in the second inning. In that same inning, though, Boston ended that trend when Connor Wong threw out Vidal Brujan at second for the third and final out.

An inning later, Wong gunned down Randy Arozarena to end the third (the call on the field was upheld after a review). As such, the Red Sox are now 2-for-18 when it comes to throwing out potential base stealers in 2023.

Next up: Sale vs. Bradley

The Red Sox will look to get back on track by sending left-hander Chris Sale to the mound on Wednesday night. The Rays will counter with right-hander Taj Bradley, who will be starting — and making his big-league debut — in place of the injured Zach Eflin. Bradley, 22, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Tampa Bay’s farm system.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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