Game 88: Price Strong as Rays Seize Opportunities to Beat Red Sox

By Robbie Knopf

Games are very often won and lost by the runners in scoring position battle. Bottom line, games are won and lost by taking advantage of whatever opportunities your team receives in the games, whether scoring runners in scoring position, turning misplaced pitches into extra-base hits, or making teams pay for defensive miscues.  The Rays didn’t quite get the job done conventionally in this game, going 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position with just one solo home run. But they squeezed out every run they possible good and came away with a win can very well be called a steal.

The Rays jumped out to a lead against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz in the third inning, stringing together singles by Desmond Jennings and Jose Molina before Sean Rodriguez delivered a sac fly. But Rays starting pitcher David Price gave it up in the top of the 4th, giving up a 2-run home run to Will Middlebrooks to give Boston a 2-1 lead. The Rays stole a run to tie the game in the bottom of the 5th, with Jeff Keppinger doubling, Jennings bunting him over, and Molina reaching on an error by shortstop Mike Aviles to score Kepp. Buchholz struck out the next two batters, so without the error, Keppinger may not have scored.

In the 6th, the Red Sox got a gifted run of their own, with Cody Ross walking, moving to second base on a passed ball, then to third base on a groundball before scoring on a David Price error on a pickoff throw at third base to give Boston a 3-2 lead. But the Rays refused to let that be the difference- although you can’t say they did so in such dramatic fashion. The Rays managed 3 runs and a hit batsman in the 7th inning against Buchholz and then reliever Matt Albers, scoring a run on a Jose Lobaton walk to tie the game before Elliot Johnson delivered exactly what the Rays needed, a big sac fly, to give them a 4-3 lead. Buchholz had a very tough outing, going 6.1 innings allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 8 yet allowing 4 runs.

This game never felt firmly in the Rays’ hands, and Price got into trouble in the top of the 8th, threatening to give the game back. Jacoby Ellsbury began the inning with a double to put the tying run in scoring position. Then the Rays got another huge break when Pedro Ciriaco popped up a bunt attempt right into Jose Lobaton‘s glove, when it bounced around before he hauled it in for the out. Price then walked David Ortiz before leaving in favor of Joel Peralta. Peralta forced Cody Ross and then Will Middlebrooks to fly out to escape the jam. The Rays got their first run on a hit in the bottom of the inning as B.J. Upton drilled a fastball left waist-high from Andrew Miller into a long home run to left field, and Fernando struck out 2 to work around a hit in the 9th as the Rays won 5-3. Price (12-4) got the win, going 7.1 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3. His 12th win gives him the AL lead in the category and he is tied with R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez for the MLB lead. Buchholz (8-3) took the loss while Rodney earned his 26th save. The Rays didn’t exactly do it with grace, but they got the job done and came away with a much needed win. The Rays send James Shields to the mound against Josh Beckett on Sunday beginning at 1:40 PM as they luck to take 2 out of 3 in their first season of the second half.