The Rays could see their season flashing before their eyes. This was going to be it. It would be the nail in the coffin, losing 3 of 4 to the long-imploded Red Sox and falling 6 games back in the AL Wild Card race. A once-promising season would end in humiliation. But no- not yet. The Rays were not ready to bow out yet. And no matter what happens, the Rays will give every team ahead of them everything they can handle the final two weeks of the season.
David Price took the mound for the Rays looking for his 19th win of the season. He wouldn’t get it as the Rays failed to get him any sort of offense. Clay Buchholz for the Red Sox went neck-and-neck with Price for the first 5 innings as they both pitched shutout ball. Price allowed just 2 hits while striking out 4 while Buchholz managed to work around 3 hits and 2 walks. But Price fell apart just enough in the 6th, and the Red Sox took advantage.
Jose Iglesias singled to begin the inning before Price struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and forced Dustin Pedroia to fly out. But a wild pitch moved Iglesias to second base before Cody Ross drilled a Price changeup to the left-centerfield wall for a go-ahead RBI double. A Ryan Lavarnway single past the diving try of Ben Zobrist gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. And they threatened for more, getting a Mauro Gomez single, a wild pitch, and a Mike Aviles walk, but Price got Daniel Nava to ground into a force play to end the inning and escape without further damage.
Buchholz tossed scoreless ball in the 6th and 7th to finish his outing and wound up going 7 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Price recovered to toss a scoreless 7th but he departed after a 1-out double by Lavarnway in the 8th. Wade Davis could not do the job in relief of Price, allowing a booming triple by Mauro Gomez to give the Red Sox a 3-1 advantage before he could escape further trouble. Price wound up going 7.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. He left in line for the loss.
In the 9th, the Red Sox added to their lead against J.P. Howell, with Iglesias slamming his first major league home run to make it 4-1 Red Sox. It was just Iglesias’ 3rd home run in 1086 professional plate appearances. It was downright embarrassing that the Rays were getting beaten by Iglesias, who entered the game having gone just 2 for his first 35 in the big leagues this season (.057), and Lavarnway, who had managed just a .165/.231/.275 line in 121 big league plate appearances. The two combined to go 5 for 8 with a homer, a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored, playing a part in every Red Sox run.
In the 9th, Andrew Bailey entered the game for the Red Sox looking to nail down the save. But he looked off from the start. He got ahead of Matt Joyce 1-2 but could not put him away and Joyce notched a single to center. Jeff Keppinger followed with another single to center and suddenly the Rays had the tying run at the plate in Luke Scott with nobody out. But then Luke Scott hit a groundball to first base that looked like it would be a back-breaking double play, however, the Rays got a break as James Loney could not get the ball out of his glove to start the double play and settled for the out at 1st. The Rays immediately took advantage, with Carlos Pena working the count to 3-2 before lacing a single to right to score Joyce and make it 4-2 Boston. Stephen Vogt, who entered the game just 0 for 19 with a walk to begin his major league career, then stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit for Jose Lobaton. And Vogt worked a walk to load the bases and put the winning run at first base with Desmond Jennings stepping up to the plate. And the Rays were not going to be denied as Jennings jumped on the first pitch and lined a single to center to tie the game at 4, and pinch-runner Elliot Johnson moved to 3rd and Jennings to 2nd as the ball got away from Jacoby Ellsbury. Vicente Padilla came in for Boston to face B.J. Upton. And B.J. got ahead 2-1 before ending the game, drilling a flyball to deep center, pointing up to the sky knowing that he had won the game for the Rays, and the ball wound up leaving the yard for a walk-off 3-run home run as the Rays won 7-4.
The Rays have a tough journey ahead of them. But they’re alive and you can’t write them off yet. They saw their season hanging in the balance and refused to fade away and that’s what they’re going to do the rest of the season. The Rays start a 3-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, with James Shields going for his 15th win against the Blue Jays’ Carlos Villanueva.