The Rays had their chance to take first place in the AL East this evening, and they let it go, finding their third loss in 21 games. Let's not get down on ourselves, it's been a great run, but this win would have been sweet.
Not to mention the struggles of Jon Lester and the woeful Sox bullpen that awaited Tampa Bay on the end of a rainy day. To date, the Rays had held the AL East lead only one game this season. They'll have to wait a little longer.
The Rays scored first on a Wil Myers HOME RUN, his fifth of the year. Great contact, over the monster off a southpaw. Exactly what you want to see from a guy batting clean up.
This was Myers's first game back in the lineup after hurting his left wrist a second time in the last month. A few days off did him some good.
In the bottom of the inning, we saw a strange Roberto Hernandez, who was pitching on ten days rest this evening, giving his fastball a little too much vitality. The Sinker benefits from less heat and more movement, and a well-rested Fausto might have limited his ability to find that great movement that comes with some exhaustion.
We saw Matt Moore benefit from much rest with plenty of velocity last night, but for Hernandez, a little less goes a long way. Ortiz, Napoli, and Carp were swinging very hard in their first appearances on the night, each escaping the shift hitting some lively pitches. Funny thing on the second at bat there - Escobar was alone on the left for Napoli, and the ball got passed him and up the left field line. Sean Rod scooped it up in left, sent it back to the scrambling Escobar, and he laid the tag on the advancing Ortiz at third base.
With Napoli on second, Carp hit a liner that drippled in the grass of shallow right field, and here we saw a rare mistake by Wil Myers in right field - something that might have been "expected" from a recently transitioned defender. There was no charge on the ground ball rolling towards him, so when it finally found his glove, Myers could not get a throw home to challenge the runner. He'll see that on tape tomorrow.
As much as we've considered where Fausto belongs this second half of the season, this may have been an incredibly relevant performance to judge him by. A switch to the bullpen often gives former starters more rest, and consequently more heat on the fastball. Would that aid Fausto?
As much as the Rays were able to hold off Boston for much of this game, the Red Sox were resurgent in the eighth inning. With only a 3-2 lead and five outs remaining in the game, Boston took advantage of Kyle Farnsworth in a bad way.
Napoli doubled, Gomes singles, and after a strikeout of Saltalamacchia, Drew and Iglesias each singled to plate three runners, the latter in a comedy of defense that saw Escobar earn the credit for throwing one away. Yunel had been riding a 53-game error-less stream, the best in Rays history at short stop. All good things come to an end, and a 2-run lead blossomed into a 4-run lead for Koji Uehara.
Needless to say, Uehara is very good, and the Rays did nothing to hamper that sentiment. He's now converted 10 saves and faced the minimum of 30 batters along the way.
Red Sox hold their AL East lead, Rays lose 6-2.
- Longoria homered into the Green Monster in the sixth, his 21st on the season.
- Hernandez lasted only five innings. Torres took his place in the sixth and seventh with excellent results, including two K's and one single over two full innings in Fenway, and Jamey Wright proved his worth for a ground out of Ortiz to lead the eighth.
- Unfortunately, the Rays seemed just a bit anemic tonight. 13 strikeouts in total, with three by Jennings in lead off, two by Zobrist, and two by Longoria. That's a lot of frustrating outs at the top of the order. Joyce and Loney were the other culprits, each with two of their own. Impressive, considering how strict the stikezones were tonight.
- Only one Red Sox player was without a hit, the new million dollar man Pedroia.
- As Brian Anderson discussed during the broadcast, Jon Lester has seen a variety of excellent left handed hitters this season. Fringe lefties have been certainly benched for right handed platoon partners or replacements. So these great lefties are batting .290 against Lester this season, and finding all their success middle and away in the strike zone. Lester had thrown less than thirty pitches inside to lefties, and they'd been making him pay. Tonight, that story was flipped on its head. Ten days rest, I'm telling ya.
- This game felt very winnable. People will want to reflect on minor throwing errors (Myers, Escobar, maybe a failed caught stealing here or there), but this was simple regression on a night we were all watching. There's 162 games and these are very good teams. Keep your chin up.