Rays Fall to Red Sox 5-1 In First Game of Double Header

Jared Wickerham

Bad starting pitching and bad hitting is starting to become a pattern.

In 30.2 innings on the year, he had a 5.58 ERA. His FIP was only worse at 6.87. He struck out a mediocre amount of batters (6.46 per nine) while walking far too many (5.58/9). He featured a very average groundball rate (45%) and surrendered far too many home runs. In only two starts had he survived six innings, and he had allowed one run or less in only two starts as well. While his fastball has solid velocity, it doesn't have a ton of movement and is hurled with little command. A writer for SB Nation's Red Sox blog said he "throws hard, mostly straight, and is certifiably insane."

This is the same pitcher as the one who has, for two straight starts, baffled Rays' hitters. Alfredo Aceves may not have pitched a no-hitter in either of his starts, but in 11 innings against the Rays this year, he has held them to two runs off of seven hits (and seven walks). Alfredo Aceves is the very definition of a back of the rotation starter, yet for two straight starts, he has breezed through what was once a very potent Rays' offense.

After all the excitement and rejoicing over the promotion of Wil Myers, this game served as a harsh reminder that right now the Rays are not playing quality baseball. Losers of seven of their past nine, the Rays cannot find any type of rhythm. Their offense, which was stellar in the early goings of the seasons, is in a slump. The starting pitching has only continued upon a season trend of short starts and little success. Only the bullpen is in strong form at this moment, but a dominant bullpen isn't very useful in non-competitive games.

The Red Sox struck early as they have been wont to do this year. After the Rays quickly went three up and three down in the top of the first inning, Jacoby Ellsbury took a high fastball off the Green Monster for a double. A Shane Victorino fly-ball advanced Ellsbury to third, and then Dustin Pedroia hit a deep sacrifice fly to score the runner.

In the top of the second inning, the Rays promptly responded with a run of their own. A wild Alfredo Aceves walked Evan Longoria and James Loney. Wil Myers, stepping up to the plate for the first time in his major league career, eagerly swung at the first pitch, a fastball off the outer edge, and hit a pop fly to center. Luke Scott, ahead in the count, doubled to right field to score a run. After Molina drew a walk (!), Yunel Escobar grounded into a double play to end the threat.

Chris Archer struggled with his command in the second inning, issuing three walks but escaping unharmed thanks to a timely double play ball. In the third inning, he allowed back to back singles to Ellsbury and Victorino with no one out. David Ortiz then took advantage of a toned down shift, hitting a grounder into the hole in right field to score both runners (Victorino had stolen second base). An amped up Chris Archer settled down a little, retiring the next six batters in a row.

While the Rays' offense was going down quietly, the Red Sox refused to let Archer find a lengthy groove, taking advantage of a throwing error by James Loney in the fifth to put a runner on. The play seemed to knock Archer out of his rhythm as he proceeded to allow a walk and a single, which scored a run. Following a strikeout of Mike Napoli, Archer walked Daniel Nava, loading the bases. Maddon emerged from the dugout to bring in Josh Lueke, but the heavens opened and the game was delayed.

Nearly three hours later, Josh Lueke returned to the mound with the bases loaded. After falling behind 2-0, he challenged Jarrod Saltalamacchia with three straight fastballs to strike him out. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Red Sox would get to Lueke with two outs. Ellsbury and Victorino hit consecutive triples to right field, scoring a run in the process. The score was now 5-1, with Boston in the lead. It should be noted that Myers looked rather sluggish, mishandled the ball, and made a weak throw. Given the rather positive reports about his defense, hopefully this can be coughed up to nerves.

The Rays best threat to score again came in the top of the eighth inning. Matt Joyce led the inning off with a double, advancing to third base on a ground out by Desmond Jennings. Ben Zobrist drew a walk on a nine pitch at bat, but Evan Longoria popped out. With runners on the corners, James Loney battled for nine pitches before whiffing on a slider for the swinging strikeout.

For those who hoped for a great debut for top prospect Wil Myers, the first game was a disappointment. He went 0-4 on the afternoon, hitting two pop flies, a lazy flyball to right field, and striking out against Andrew Miller. Hopefully he settles in during the second game tonight.

The Rays resume action tonight at 8:05 P.M.

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