Game 149: Jeff Keppinger Leads Offensive Explosion

By David Hill

All to often this year, the Tampa Bay Rays have failed to put together that big inning when they had the opportunity. Today, the Rays came through, breaking open a close game to win 13-3 over the Boston Red Sox.

After falling behind 1-0, the Rays loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with no outs. Matt Joyce walked, forcing in a run to tie the game, as Tampa appeared poised to jump out to an early lead. However, Daisuke Matsuzaka wriggled out of the jam, striking out Carlos Pena and inducing a double play to escape further harm.

Boston came right back in the top of the third. With runners on first and second, Jacoby Ellsbury continued his hot hitting against the Rays, driving in his second run of the night. An RBI fielder’s choice erased Ellsbury, but the Red Sox took a 3-1 lead. The Rays scored again in the bottom of the inning, cutting the lead to 3-2.

The Rays roughed up Matsuzaka in the bottom of the fourth. Jeff Keppinger led off the inning with a home run to tie the game, and two batters later, Carlos Pena hit a two run home run to give the Rays a 5-3 lead. After Jose Molina drilled a double, Matsuzaka was pulled, having given up five runs on nine hits and a walk over three plus innings.

Tampa broke the game open in the sixth. Four Boston pitchers walked six batters in the frame, leading to a seven run outburst. Desmond Jennings had a two run triple, and scored on an error by Pedro Ciriaco. Bases loaded walks to Pena and Molina forced in runs, as the Rays ended any hopes of a comeback.

Chris Archer picked up his first victory of the season, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks, striking out six in his five innings of work. Keppinger was 3-4 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBIs. Four Rays had two hits each in the win.