The Red Sox had themselves a pretty good week before arriving in Tampa on Thursday night. They had an off day on Monday, and that was followed by taking two out of three games from the Oakland Athletics at home. Drew Pomeranz looked great on Thursday, and that had me feeling confident about Chris Sale’s start yesterday. Unfortunately, the lefty was not at the top of his game against the Rays. He only gave up four hits, but two of those hits were home runs. The first was good for two runs off the bat of Wilson Ramos, and the second was good for one off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria. It did not look like it was going to be like this for Sale, though. After a rough first inning, he settled down for the next two, striking out five straight at one point before allowing that home run to Ramos. His day would end with two outs in the sixth, and it was clear that he was not happy about getting taken out. September has not been too kind to Sale, as this start marks the second time in three starts where the southpaw has failed to pitch at least six innings. It looks like he’ll make his next start in Baltimore next Wednesday, if he pitches on regular rest. This may not be a popular idea, but I may consider giving Sale another day of rest next time around the rotation if I’m Manager John. I think it helped him last time it happened and it could be beneficial for the team along with Sale.
The Red Sox bullpen ended up being tasked with a lot. Austin Maddox, Matt Barnes, Fernando Abad, Craig Kimbrel, Addison Reed, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, and Blaine Boyer were responsible for more than nine innings of work. Kelly would be my pick for MVP out of the ‘pen. His three shutout innings were huge from the eleventh to the thirteenth. Matt Barnes gave up a home run in the eighth, and Brandon Workman gave up a home run to Kevin Kiermaier that tied the game in the fourteenth. After the Red Sox went off for seven runs in the top half of the fifteenth, Blaine Boyer locked things down with two strikeouts in a shutout inning.
I don’t know where to begin with the Red Sox offensively. The Rays were doing a pretty good job limiting the Red Sox to two runs, one being a Mitch Moreland home run, over the first eight innings. It wasn’t until the Rays closer, Alex Colome, took the mound when they got back into this game. A walk, an error, and a single closed the gap to two runs with no outs in the inning. A Sandy Leon single made it a one run game, then Kevin Kiermaier made one of the most desperate catches you’ll ever see. The Red Sox win this game sooner if this play is not made.
Kiermaier did not stop there, though. Oh no, after the Red Sox tied the game in the ninth, he did this in the tenth.
Him, Kevin Pillar, and Jackie Bradley all play in the same division. Anyway in the fourteenth, Rafael Devers drove in the then go-ahead run thanks to another error from Rays second baseman Brad Miller. That allowed Mookie Betts to score, and it looked like the Red Sox were going to win in the next inning. That’s not how things went, but they did score seven times in the fifteenth inning. I wish they did it sooner, but hey, that’s baseball. There were no big hits either, just one double, a few singles, a HBP, and capitalizing on errors. Xander Bogaerts had his best performance in a long time with four hits and two RBIs. In fact, Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, and Deven Marrero all drove in 2 RBIs each last night. Honestly, I did not expect Blake Swihart and Deven Marrero to play any kind of role in this game, but the Red Sox probably lose this game if not for their efforts.
Rick Porcello gets the start against Alex Cobb this evening, special 6:10 start for whatever reason. Red Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 and the Yankees are only three games back, time to pick it up and hold onto that lead.
84 down, 10 to go.