On a night they found themselves in an eight-run hole and rallied to score five runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox still could not get past the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, as they dropped their third straight to their division rivals by a final score of 9-5.
Zack Godley made his third start and fourth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one and, unlike his last time out on August 8 when he tossed four scoreless innings against the Blue Jays, struggled mightily against another American League East foe.
That being the case because, in just three-plus innings pitched, the right-hander got shelled for eight runs, all of which were earned, on 10 hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.
The first of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top of the first, when after loading the bases with one out, Godley induced a potential inning-ending grounder off the bat of Joey Wendle.
Michael Chavis fielded the ground ball, but as he prepared to throw the ball for the force out at home, it got wedged in the webbing of the first baseman’s glove and he had to settle for the force out at first while Brandon Lowe scored from third. 1-0.
In the second, Godley was again a victim of some tough luck and hard contact. Lots of hard contact, like when Willy Adames led the frame off by taking the righty deep to the opposite field off an 0-1, 90 mph sinker down the heart of the plate.
Moments later, after recording the first two outs of the inning on back-to-back strikeouts, Godley got the dangerous Austin Meadows to hit a soft pop fly to right field for what probably should have been the final out of the second. Instead, Kevin Pillar had lost sight of the ball as soon as it left Meadows’ bat, and it wound up falling between the right fielder and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center.
As a result of that slight mishap, the Rays were able to extend the inning, and they took full advantage of that when Brandon Lowe laced a two-run blast to the seats in right field off a first-pitch cutter on the inner half of the plate from Godley. 4-0.
Coming back out for the third, the Sox starter served up another hard-hit, two-run shot to Yoshi Tsutsugo to make it a 6-0 game and in the fourth, allowed a seventh run to cross the plate on a Yandy Diaz RBI single before his evening ultimately came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 74 (45 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his curveball 47% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.3 mph with his cutter, a pitch he threw 28 times.
Hit with his second losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 8.16, Godley’s rotation spot could be in jeopardy, but if it’s not, his next start could come against the Yankees next Monday.
In relief of Godley, the recently-recalled Ryan Weber got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and after closing the book on Godley’s night by allowing an inherited runner to score in the fourth, the right-hander put together an impressive performance working in a mop-up kind of role up until the top of the ninth.
You see, when the Sox were trailing by eight runs, Weber kept the Rays off the scoreboard over four solid innings of work. However, as soon as his side had stormed back to make it a three-run game in their half of the eighth, the 30-year-old gave up a solo homer to Austin Meadows to lead off the very next inning.
It may not have been a back-breaker seeing how the Red Sox dropped this contest by a final score of 9-5, but it was still less than ideal for sure. At least Weber kept the deficit at four from there, although as previously stated, it didn’t matter all that much in the end.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a former Cy Young Award winner in Rays left-hander Blake Snell, who had only pitched eight total innings through his first three starts of the season while working his way back from an elbow injury.
With Snell’s pitch limit set at 75 for Wednesday’s contest, the Boston bats were in for one heck of a night, and in not in a positive way. That’s for sure.
While the Rays ace was on the bump, Sox hitters managed to reach second base just two times; once on a Michael Chavis stolen base following a two-out single in the second, and again on a J.D. Martinez dropped strike three and Xander Bogaerts single in the fourth.
Other than that, it was nothing but tough sledding against Snell, but things started to turn around for the better in the eighth.
There, four straight hits off reliever Aaron Slegers to lead off the inning resulted in Boston’s first run of the night coming around to score on an RBI single off the bat of the red-hot Jonathan Arauz. 8-1.
Following a brief Tampa Bay mound vist, Martinez wasted no time in introducing himself to Slegers, as he took a first-pitch, 83 mph slider on the inner half and deposited it well over everything in left field for his second dinger and first grand slam of the season.
Despite all that late success, a Rays pitching change that saw nasty right-hander Nick Anderson take over for Slegers impeded any chance of the Red Sox’ rally going any further. In other words, Anderson held things in check in relief of Slegers in the eighth, while fellow righty Pete Fairbanks closed things out with a scoreless ninth inning. And after all was said and done, the Red Sox fell to 6-12 on the season following their third straight loss.
Some notes and observations from this defeat:
From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
The Red Sox are 1-12 against the Rays in the clubs’ last 13 games at Fenway Park.
Kevin Pillar went 4-for-4 with four singles on Wednesday.
Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts left Wednesday’s game early and Jonathan Arauz picked up another hit and RBI in place of Devers in the eighth inning.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series on Thursday evening.
Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start and in the process will be making his major-league debut for Boston, while Tyler Glasnow will be making his fourth start of the season for Tampa Bay.
Hart spoke at length about what Thursday will mean for him in the most recent episode of MassLive.com’s Fenway Rundown podcast, so I highly suggest listening to that if you want to learn more about the 27-year-old southpaw.
Glasnow, meanwhile, owns a 5.56 ERA and 5.24 FIP through his first 11 1/3 innings pitched of the 2020 campaign. He owns a lifetime 4.05 ERA and .668 OPS against in two career starts at Fenway Park.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to end the homestand on a positive note before hopping on a flight to Newark.