A postseason matchup between the Rays and Red Sox would be fascinating, even more than it was in 2008 when Tampa Bay held off Boston in seven games. I say held off because the series should have only lasted five games. I have no doubt that the Red Sox would not want to face Tampa Bay for a chance to go to the World Series. The olde towne team from Boston might be able to beat the Rays but it certainly wouldn’t be easy. That’s because the Rays have had the ability the ability to shut down the mighty Red Sox offense. In fact, Red Sox hitters are hitting .100 points worse against Rays pitching than they do against anyone else.
The Rays continued the trend as they held the Red Sox to just two runs on three hits (six for the doubleheader). It was a strange game that saw a triple play and a steal of home, but the Rays pulled out the victory just the same.
Jeff Niemann was the next pitcher to orchestrate a dominant pitching performance. Homers by Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury (again) were the only blemishes against his outing. Amazingly, he threw the second complete game of the day and got stronger and stronger as the night went on. After the Ellsbury homer, he retired the last 12 hitters in a row. A truly impressive performance.
The Rays offense provided the rest of the support. They faced Erik Bedard for the first time since they hit him hard late in July when he was a member of the Mariners. They didn’t shell him like last time, but were able to scratch out a few unearned runs and get his pitch count up high enough to get him out of the game. The Rays got two men on in the fourth, but Bedard was helped out when Jed Lowrie started a 5-4-3 triple play hit into by Sean Rodriguez. Later, Desmond Jennings homered and then the Rays extended their lead with a three run eighth. Ben Zobrist managed to steal home for one of the runs in that inning when he scampered to the plate when B.J. Upton was caught in a rundown. The throw home hit him and Upton was safe as well.
Desmond Jennings had a great doubleheader with a homer and a double to go along with two runs scored. His predecessor Carl Crawford did not with an 0 for 6 day with four strikeouts. Even though the Rays only managed a split of the two games today, the Rays have to be pleased with their performance.
Player of the Game: Jeff Niemann