Game 101: Tampa Bay Fails in Their Bid for First Place in the AL East

By Dereck Violante

Tampa Bay loses their bid for first place dropping game two, 6-2 to the Boston Red Sox.

Riding a six game winning streak, and having won 18 of their last 20, Tampa Bay takes on the Boston Red Sox in game 2 of a 4 game series for the battle to take control of first place in the AL East.  The Rays send veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA) to the mound to face off against Boston’s ace Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58 ERA).

Having a bit of an up & down season this year Roberto Hernandez managed to pitch a solid game, although not very deep, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits with 1 walk and 1 strikeout in 5 innings of work.

Tampa Bay led off the scoring with rookie Wil Myers crushing a lead-off homer to left field in the second inning, but that lead was short lived as the Red Sox fought back to tie the game at 1 apiece in the bottom of the frame. David Ortiz led the bottom of the inning off with a sharp line drive single to center.  Up next Mike Napoli singled to left but on a heads up play left fielder Sean Rodiguez played the ball well and managed to nail Ortiz at 3rd trying to take the extra base.  Napoli did take second on the throw to 3rd.  Mike Carp then singled in Napoli to tie the game.

In the bottom of the 3rd Shane Victorino lead off with a double to right followed by a fly ball out by Daniel Nava, moving Victorino to 3rd.  At that point Roberto Hernandez hit Dustin Pedroia with a pitch putting runners at 1st & 3rd with one out.  With Ortiz up, and in true Joe Maddon fashion, the extreme shift was put on moving all the fielders towards right field, except Longoria playing near short and leaving no one to keep Victorino honest at third base, allowing him to take a monstrous lead.  Dustin Pedroia then attempted to steal second, drawing a throw from Jose Molina, which also allowed Victorino to take home on the throw to second, to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.   Molina was initially charged with an error on the play, later to be changed by the scorer to a double steal, but unofficially could be noted as a mental error on Molina’s part with Victorino half way down the line, there was no chance to catch him at the plate.

After the Red Sox tacked on another run with a Dustin Pedroia sac fly, fresh off his $100MM extension, Evan Longoria cut the lead to one with a huge solo home run to left center field in the bottom of the 6th, but that was all the offense the Rays could muster.  The game was really broken open in the bottom of the eighth by the Red Sox as Kyle Farnsworth was knocked around, giving up 3 runs and essentially putting the game out of reach for the Rays.

Other quality performances in the game included Alex Torres putting in 2 innings of work with 2 strikeouts and James Loney acquiring his 1000th career hit.

Coming up in game 3 of the 4 game series Tampa Bay sends their own ace, David Price (4-5, 4.03 ERA), to the hill as Boston counters with Felix Doubront (7-3, 3.76 ERA) with a 7:10pm start at Fenway Park Wednesday night.