Matt Moore had simply owned the Red Sox this season, holding Boston to a .102 batting average against. In his last outing against the Red Sox, he held them to a two hit shutout. Now, heading into a playoff series with Boston, one had to feel good about the Rays chances in Game One, knowing that Moore was on the mound.
Moore certainly did his part over the first three innings, holding the Red Sox hitless while being effectively wild. Meanwhile, Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist had each hit a solo home run, providing the Rays with a 2-0 lead. With Moore’s track record against Boston this season, it seemed as though that may be enough.
However, disaster struck in the bottom of the fourth. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single, followed by what appeared to be a harmless fly ball off the bat of David Ortiz. Wil Myers appeared to have the ball tracked down, until he ran off at the last second, allowing the ball to fall in for a ground rule double. Perhaps he thought he heard someone calling for the ball – it will be interesting to see what the explanation is later tonight. After a popup for the first out, Moore appeared to have a chance to escape unscathed. That hope was quickly dashed as former Ray Jonny Gomes lashed a two run double to left center to tie the game. Moore responded with a strikeout, then got Stephen Drew to ground to James Loney for what appeared as though it would be the inning ending out. However, Drew hustled down the line, reaching the base at the same time as Moore. Meanwhile, Gomes scored from second to give the Red Sox the lead. Will Middlebrooks followed with an RBI double, and Moore came back to strike out Jacoby Ellsbury. However, Jose Lobaton allowed strike three to get by him for a passed ball, allowing Ellsbury to reach. Shane Victorino followed with an RBI base hit, and the Sox had suddenly taken a 5-2 lead.
Boston extended the lead in the fifth. With two on and one out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit another double off the Green Monster, scoring both runners and ending Moore’s day. A base hit allowed Saltalamacchia to score, and Moore ended up allowing eight runs, seven of which were earned despite the shoddy defense, on eight hits and two walks while striking out four in 4.1 innings.
The Rays bullpen settled in to at least keep Tampa in the game, but the offense was unable to muster a rally. Jamey Wright came in for the eighth to make his postseason debut, and the Red Sox made sure that it was not one he would look back upon fondly. Boston torched Wright for four runs in the inning, capped by a bases loaded walk, as they sent the Rays to a 12-2 loss.
Tampa was held to four hits in the defeat, but can take solace in the fact that this was just one game out of the series. Should David price pitch well tomorrow and the Rays can emerge with a split on the road, they have still done their part. As bad as today may have seemed, the series is far from over.