The Rays dropped ALDS game two 7-4 to the Red Sox. Instead of pulling even in the series, the Rays are now down 2-0 in the series. The Rays will need to spout off three wins in a row in win or go home games, but they already showed that they can do that this year. It will take a lot, but with Joe Maddon’s motivation, the Rays can do anything they put their mind to.
ALDS game two saw a pitching matchup between David Price and John Lackey. Price continued his recent trend of pounding the zone with 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs, mixing in the occasional change-up and cutter. Despite giving up 7 runs, Price managed to last 7+ innings, with Joe Maddon showing faith in his ace. Overall, Price threw 102 pitches. In an all-important playoff game, Maddon could have taken out Price at many points in the game. However, Maddon showed that he would rather have his ace on the mound than anyone in the bullpen.John Lackey’s performance was not mind-blowing, but he left the game giving his team a chance to win. Overall, Lackey pitched 5.1 innings, allowing 4 earned runs with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Both bullpens allowed no runs, with Koji Uehara earning the save.
The Red Sox got started off quick in the bottom of the first off of Price when Jacoby Ellsbury singled and later scored on a Dustin Pedroia sac fly. David Ortiz added a solo homer to make the score 2-0. The Rays then closed the gap in the top of the second when Ben Zobrist walked and later scored on a Delmon Young sac fly to make it 2-1. The Sox padded their lead in the bottom of the third when David Ross and Ellsbury hit back to back doubles. Ellsbury later scored on a Pedroia fielder’s choice when the Rays were unable to turn a double play. The Red Sox made it 5-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Jonny Gomes scored on a Stephen Drew Triple. The Rays came back to score two more in the top of the fifth. Yunel Escobar led off the inning with a ground rule double that deflected off of Will Middlebrooks’ glove. David DeJesus was hit by a pitch and both him and Escobar were later driven in on a James Loney double. Ellsbury scored again on a Pedroia double to make it 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth. The Rays then pulled closer in the top of the sixth when Desmond Jennings scored on an Escobar single. Ortiz added another solo homer in the bottom of the eighth off of Price to make the score 7-4.
Double plays hurt the Rays, with the Rays grounding into three inning ending double plays. The Rays had many opportunities to add to their lead, but were unable to do so. Overall the Rays finished with 8 hits and drew 4 walks, but were only able to plate 4 runs. The Rays needed more timely hitting in order to get the job done.
The Red Sox offense was stellar scoring 7 runs on 11 hits against Price and reliever Jake McGee. It is not everyday that an offense can score seven runs off the normally stellar Price. The Sox were much more efficient than the Rays, scoring runs through timely hitting.
Joe Maddon made a couple of questionable managing decisions in the game. The first was leaving Price in long enough to give up seven runs. The Rays had many options in the bullpen, with Jamey Wright, Alex Torres, and Jeremy Hellickson all having the potential to throw many innings. Instead, Maddon left Price in for 7+ innings, with Price giving up 7 earned runs. Maddon also let the Matt Joyce hit against lefty Craig Breslow in the top of the sixth. Joyce had just pinch hit, but Maddon could have pinch hit again. While this was not a huge decision, and likely did not make or break the game, Maddon could have pinch hit a right-hander given Joyce’s documented struggles against left-handers. There is a small chance this could have made a difference in the game, but it is not as major as the decision to leave Price in for so long.
The Rays have an off day tomorrow before taking on the Sox again on Monday at the Trop. Alex Cobb will pitch against Clay Buchholz. The Rays won three win or go-home games in a row once already this season, lets hope that they will be able to do it again.