On the heels of Luke Scott calling Fenway Park a ‘dump’, the Red Sox were anything but hospitable in their home opener.
Today’s pitching match-up featured David Price against Josh Beckett, and had all the makings of a low scoring affair. The first inning certainly lived up to that billing, as Beckett pitched around a Carlos Pena double, which Price recorded a perfect opening frame. In the second, the Rays had an opportunity to jump on the Sox. Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a base hit to center. Jeff Keppinger then followed with a double to left, scoring Zobrist and giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead. Stephen Vogt grounded out to second, allowing Keppinger to move to third base with one out. However, the opportunity was squandered, as Jose Molina and Reid Brignac both grounded out to short, stranding the runner.
Price ran into trouble of his own in the bottom of the second. Kevin Youkilis led off the inning with a single to center. David Ortiz then walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Price was able to fight back, striking out both Darnell McDonald and Cody Ross before getting Mike Aviles to ground out to second base to end the inning.
The third inning, however, was a different story. Beckett pitched a perfect frame in the top of the inning. Price then came out and hit Kelly Shoppach with a pitch. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a double to left, advancing Shoppach to third. Dustin Pedroia walked to load the bases with no one out. Adrian Gonzalez hit a single to left, plating Shoppach and tying the game at one. Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Ellsbury as Pedroia advanced to third, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. Ortiz then reached on an infield single to third, which allowed Pedroia to score for a 3-1 Sox advantage. Price then walked McDonald to load the bases once again, before getting Cody Ross to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
Price was finished after the third inning and 83 pitches, having given up 4 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 3. Burke Badenhop came on for the fourth inning. Aviles led off the inning, and grounded to short. Shoppach followed, and doubled to center. Ellsbury followed with a single to right, scoring Shoppach and giving the Sox a 4-1 lead. Pedroia then grounded to short for a double play, ending the inning.
The double play also ended Ellsbury’s day, as Brignac landed on Ellsbury’s arm after he attempted to break up the double play. Ryan Sweeney entered the game to play right, as Cody Ross moved over to center. It was later announced that he may have suffered a dislocation/subluxation of his right shoulder, which would sideline him for a minimum of 6-8 weeks.
Wade Davis entered for the Rays in the bottom of the fifth, and was lights out, keeping the Rays in the game. In the three innings he pitched, he only allowed two hits, a single in each of the sixth and seventh innings, while striking out three batters. However, the Rays were unable to generate any offense against Beckett, who continued his strong outing.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the wheels came off. Joel Peralta entered the game, and proceeded to napalm the game. McDonald led off the inning with a double to deep center. Cody Ross and Aviles walked, loading the bases. Shoppach, continuing a phenomenal game, doubled to left, plating McDonald and Ross and giving the Sox a 6-1 lead. Peralta was then lifted in favor of Josh Lueke, who would prove to be only slightly more effective. Ryan Sweeney greeted Lueke with a single to right, plating Aviles and Shoppach, giving the Sox an 8-1 advantage. Sweeney advanced to second on the throw to the plate. Pedroia reached on an infield single to short. Gonzalez followed with a single to shallow center, loading the bases yet again. Youkilis hit a single to center, scoring Sweeney and Pedrioa, and giving the Sox a 10-1 lead. Ortiz followed with a double to left which plated Gonzalez, putting the score to 11-1. McDonald walked, reloading the bases. The Rays finally got an out, as Cody Ross hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Youkilis and giving the Sox a 12-1 lead. Aviles followed with another single, loading the bases for the third time in the inning. Kelly Shoppach was finally kept off the basepaths as he popped out to short. Sweeney flied out to left to end the inning. Peralta and Lueke combined to give up 8 hits and 3 walks in the inning, allowing 8 runs to score.
Mark Melancon relieved Beckett to start the ninth inning. Beckett left the game giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 1 batter. Following a Matt Joyce fly out to center, Zobrist hit a solo home run to right, cutting the lead to 12-2. However, Melancon shut the door afterwards, getting Keppinger to ground out to first and striking out Vogt to end the game.
Every year, there are games like this. Hopefully, the Rays can rebound tomorrow.