The Rays and Red Sox played a true marathon last night/today. The game went at a nice steady pace until the 13 mile mark. Then, suddenly the race went up a hill and while the Red Sox were able to push confidently on, the Rays almost fell by the side of the road. They picked themselves up and and continued to trudge on with absolutely no end in sight. Suddenly the Red Sox picked up speed and found the finish line down a dark alley.
The Rays may still be searching for their first run of the game.Even though they held off some Red Sox rallies (mostly because of Rays walks) it really was only a mtter of time before the Rays eventually succumbed. The Rays did absolutely nothing on offense last night. They gathered three hits, two hit batters and one walk in 16 innings. The Rays hit a combined .060 with no extra base hits. This collective hitter would have been sent back to the minors long ago. That being said, the Rays had two very good offensive games on Friday and Saturday, but there was no way they were going to put a run across on Sunday. One of the troubles was Tropicana Field. A few Rays hitters hit some long drives, but they were always caught at the wall.
Joe Maddon was ejected from the game in the eleventh inning, but I’m sure he was still in charge of the substitutions. Assuming that, he was managing this game like it was Game Seven of the World Series. Four different relievers worked less than an inning for the Rays and even when a Rays pitcher proved himself capable of throwing strikes, Maddon elected not to stay with him. Howell had a particularly rough outing, walking three in just two thirds of an inning. Juan Cruz cleaned up his mess by throwing only nine pitches, but he was replaced by Cesar Ramos. He worked a very tidy twelfth inning, throwing only seven pitches. That was his only inning. The Rays did stay with Brandon Gomes for three innings and while he walked two, he was certainly effective. Adam Russell gave up the game-winning run, but had he kept the game scoreless, it would have been interesting to see if he would have gone another inning. Jeremy Hellickson was warming up just in case.
And finally, I would be remiss not to mention something that has annoyed me for a very long time: managers managing towards the save rule. In other words, never bring your closer in unless it is a save situation. Jonathan Papelbon stayed in the bullpen until the Red Sox could grab the lead while the lesser relievers battled to keep it tied. Why on earth a manager not use his best relievers in a more important situation? Papelbon, his best pitcher, was brought in when the game was pretty much over. That being said, the Rays were never able to get to the underbelly, (Dan Wheeler, Randy Williams) of the Red Sox bullpen.