BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Sean Rodriguez #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his two-run game-winning home run with Elliot Johnson #9 against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning at Fenway Park May 27, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
One mistake pitch changes the entire tone of a game. The stories had already been written and were just waiting to be finalized before being sent for final editing. The Rays were going to lose their second 1-run game and the series to the Red Sox, the Rays offense was going to suffer another loss where they mustered only 2-runs, the Red Sox were going to move to above .500 for the first time on the year, but then Sean Rodriguez came to the plate and worked the count to his favor before hitting a 2-run homer out of Fenway Park to give the Rays a 4-3 lead and force the writers back to their computers to rewrite their stories.
The story could write itself after Sean-Rods homer. Fernando Rodney, less than 24 hours after giving up the walkoff homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, enters the game to save a 1-run lead and his first batter - Jarrod Saltalamacchia. After serving him a steady diet of fastballs in their first two encounters of the season Rodney doubled up on the changeup and got Saltalamacchia to ground out to short. After Nick Punto grounded out to second for the second out Rodney struck out Daniel Nava to earn his 16th save of the year.
The Rays victory improves their record to 29-19 and into a tie for first place with the Baltimore Orioles who lost to the Kansas City Royals. The Red Sox were trying to get above the .500 mark for the first time on the year but see their record drop to 23-24 and they remain in the cellar of the AL East.
Sean Rodriguez on the Rays:
"There wasn't a guy in here that doubted we couldn't come back and win tonight. That's just the attitude of this team," Rodriguez said. "Everybody thought we still had a chance -- that's the one thing we do well here. As long as there's still a few outs on the board, we feel like we can still win." -mlb.com
"We know exactly how [the Red Sox] feel today based on last night," said manager Joe Maddon-mlb.com
The Rays jumped out to a 1-0 lead in top of the fourth. Matt Joyce doubled to right field and advanced to third on a throwing error charged to right fielder Adrian Gonzalez. Ben Zobrist followed with a RBI groundout to third baseman Will Middlebrooks. In the seventh inning the Rays extended their lead to 2-0 when Will Rhymes delivered a 2-out RBI single.
Jeremy Hellickson had cruised through the first 6 innings and took the mound to start the 7th with a 2-0 lead. Very quickly Hellickson would see his lead evaporate. He issued a leadoff walk to David Ortiz, a single to Kevin Youkilis, and a 3-run opposite field homer to Adrian Gonzalez which put the Red Sox ahead 3-2.
The Rays were retired quickly and quietly in the 8th inning. Franklin Morales replaced Clay Buchholz and struck out Carlos Pena and was replaced by Vincent Padilla. Padilla struck out BJ Upton and retired Matt Joyce on a grounder to first to end the inning.
The Rays bullpen worked out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth inning after Scott Posednik led off with a single he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles. Hellickson's night was finished ater retiring Dustin Pedroia on a fly out to right field and issuing an intentional walk tp David Ortiz. Wade Davis came in and walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases. Jake McGee entered the game to face Adrian Gonzalez and got him to ground out to short to end the threat.
Alfredo Aceves came in to lock down the final three outs but issued a leadoff walk to Ben Zobrist. He then retired Luke Scott on a soft fly ball before surrendering the 2-run homer to Sean Rodriguez. Aceves suffered his 3rd blown save of the year and took the loss while Jake McGee (2-1) earned the victory and Fernando Rodney earned his 16th save.
A few positives from today's game: Jeremy Hellickson worked 7.1 innings and for the 38 time in 43 major league starts he held the opposition to 3ER or less. Will Rhymes went 3-3 with a key 2-out RBI, and Sean Rodriguez doubled and hit the go ahead 2-run homer both off of right handed pitching.