A day game in Texas on Wednesday, an off-day on Thursday, and a rain out on Friday....seems like forever and a day since the Rays last took the field. All the wait was spoiled by a continued absence of clutch hitting and a frustrating 2-1 walk-off win by the Red Sox in the first game of the series. Brandon Gomes (0-1, 1.93 ERA) takes the loss for the Rays and Junichi Tazawa (2-0, 1.50 ERA) earned the victory for the Red Sox. The loss drops the Rays record to 4-6 on the year and the win improves the Red Sox to 6-4.
Often times when the top two pitchers for their respective teams meet the game is billed as a "sure to be a low scoring game" and then the bats come alive and a slugfest breaks out. On Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park David Price and Jon Lester each stuck to the low scoring game script. Although both pitchers pitched well neither was involved in the final decision.
David Price went 6 innings allowing only a solo homer to David Ross and 4 hits while striking out 8 and walking only 2. He threw 65.1% (69 of 106) pitches for strikes. Jake McGee worked a perfect 7th inning, Joel Peralta retired all 3 batters he faced in the 8th. Joe Maddon used a trio of relieveres Kyle Farnsworth, Cesar Ramos, and Brandon Gomes in the 9th. Gomes remained in the game and took the loss in the 10th.
Jon Lester was equally impressive going 7 innings and allowing 1R/ER on 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking 1. Of the 100 pitches he made on the afternoon 63% were strikes. Andrew Bailey worked a scoreless 8th inning, Joel Hanrahan worked to 2 batters in the 9th before being replaced by Koji Uehara who retired all 3 batters he faced. Junichi Tazawa worked the 10th for the victory.
The Rays jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning Sean Rodriguez doubled into the left field corner to score Desmond Jennings who had led off the inning with a single. Rodriguez advanced to 3rd with nobody out on a wild pitch but Lester was able to strike out Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist lined out to first and Shelly Duncan grounded out to 3rd. The Red Sox came back to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth with 2-outs David Ross drove a 3-2 change up out of the park.
Their was very little action in the game as it progressed into the ninth inning with the score tied at 1-1. Both teams had opportunities to end the game but neither were able to push across the winning run.
The Red Sox had Joel Hanrahan on the mound. His last appearance was Wednesday night against the Orioles and he threw 32 pitches in 2/3 of an inning allowing 5R/ER on 3 hits, 2 walks, and a wild pitch.
After the game Red Sox manager John Farrell was sure to make sure the press knew that Hanrahan was still his closer:
"He's obviously our closer, I think coming over and learning this league, understanding that there's power up and down the lineup, particularly the top half, and this club, they can drive the ball out of the ballpark. I think as Joel is making his way through the American League, particularly the American League East, location is key, particularly in those late-inning moments." -mlb.com
Farrell's confidence lasted all of two batters in the ninth inning and was replaced by after issuing back to back walks to Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. He was replaced by Koji Uehara who has not given up an earned run in his last 18 appeances (15.0 IP) dating back to last September 1st.
Uehara justified Farrell's decision by striking out James Loney, retired Yunel Escobar on a fly out to Shane Victorino, and induced Ryan Roberts to pop out to Dustin Pedroia.
Kyle Farnsworth started the ninth inning and retired both Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks. Joe Maddon wanted to turn Daniel Nava around to the right side so he brought in Cesar Ramos who got Nava to hit a soft fly ball to right field but Sam Fuld appeared to get a bad jump on the ball and it landed softly for a single. With Jonny Gomes due up Ramos was replaced with right handed pitcher Brandon Gomes. After a wild pitch put moved Nava to 2nd base on a wild pitch Jonny Gomes walked. Stephen Drew flew out to Desmond Jennings to end the inning.
The Rays let another scoring opportunity slip away in the 10th innings. Junichi Tazawa came in to replace Uehara gave up a leadoff double to Jose Molina led and was replaced by pinch runner Kelly Johnson. Tazawa retired Matt Joyce on a fly ball to left, Desmond Jennings popped out to Dustin Pedroia in short right field, and Sam Fuld lined out to Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. With 1-out Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center. Ellsbury stole second and advanced to 3rd when Jose Lobaton's throw drifted toward the 1st base side of 2nd and nixed off of Yunel Escobar's glove allowing him to advance to 3rd. The Rays employed a 5-man infield by bringing Matt Joyce in from left field but Shane Victorino delivered an infield hit that the Rays could not come home with and Ellsbury scored the winning run.
Frustrating afternoon in Fenway to say the least.....