Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Rays fell to the Boston Red Sox on an infield single, on a play where Joe Maddon had brought in a fifth infielder. The Rays usually stellar defense let them down, as Yunel Escobar‘s defensive efforts figured prominently in the first inning of extra innings at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon.
Escobar would be the recipient of a slightly wide throw by Jose Lobaton in the bottom of the 10th, and his lack of effort and alligator armed catch attempt on the ball allowed the throw to skip into the outfield, and Jacoby Ellsbury moved to third with only one out. The fifth infielder would be brought in, moving Escobar to the first base side of second, and Shane Victorino‘s ground ball found Escobar, and he failed to make a clean play on the ball, and threw it to first (where there was no one covering the bag) and Ellsbury ran home uncontested.
The Tampa Bay Rays started off the game on a interesting note, losing out on a hit thanks to a flukey defensive play on Desmond Jennings‘ first at bat, when Will Middlebrooks deflected a line drive that went right to Stephen Drew, who snagged it for an out. The Rays would go on to get a couple of base runners in the second, but would fail to score. David Price was off to a decent start, struggling to throw consistent strikes but still working through the lineup for the Red Sox.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Rays would get on the scoreboard in the top of the third, when Desmond Jennings hit a line drive off the Green Monster, and scrambled back to first after thinking about a possible double. He would score from first on a Sean Rodriguez double down the line, which would deaden against the wall and allow Jennings the time to hustle around to touch home plate. Sean would move to third on a ball in the dirt, but would fail to score.
The Red Sox would tie it up in the bottom of the fifth, when David Price left a 85 MPH changeup over the heart of the plate, and David Ross crushed it over the Monster. The Rays would fail to counter, and would actually find themselves retired 12 times in a row by Jon Lester in the middle of the game. The teams would start to stream in relievers and the game would seem to come down to the ninth. In the top of the frame, Joel Hanrahan would lead off the inning by walking Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. The Sox would bring in Koji Uehara, and he’d retire the side, stranding the runners. The Rays would allow a pair of base runners in the bottom of the ninth, but Brandon Gomes would eventually work out of the inning.
The game would go to extras, where Jose Molina would start off the 10th with a line drive double. He would be pinch run for by Kelly Johnson, but Johnson would not get a chance to advance, as pop-outs would keep him at second base for the next 3 at-bats.
The Rays continue to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 0-11 with runners on second and third. They also fail to keep teams’ offenses from battling with two strikes and two outs, lacking a “closer’s mentality” when pitching. David Price threw a ton of pitches over 6 innings, and while his line was impressive, he failed to give the bullpen a break at the start of an important divisional series.
Price had 1 earned run on 4 hits in 6 innings, walked two and struck out eight. He was rivaled by Jon Lester, who went 7 innings with 5 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run with 5 strikeouts.