Edit: The Rays just got swept by their most dislike rival, there were questionable calls, and we might be upset. That's just baseball, though. Earlier today, at least one explosion occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Other news sites will give updates, we will not. But tonight all of our hearts are in Boston.
There is frustration, there is pressure, there is mounting momentum to call up Wil Myers and Brandon Guyer from Triple-A Durham, and there is a renewed focus on firing Derek Shelton. These are just some of the negative side effects of a prolonged slumping Rays offense that has resulted in this years club matching the teams worst start in franchise history of 4-8.
Jeremy Hellickson started for the Rays and went 7 innigs allowing 2R/ER on 3 hits while striking out 9 and walking 1. Jake McGee continues to put the opening day disaster behind him and worked a scoreless eighth inning walking 1 and striking out 2. Joel Peralta took the loss as he worked to 3 batters in the ninth issuing a walk to Dustin Pedroia (0-1, 3.60 ERA) and a walk-off double to Mike Napoli.
Ryan Dempster handcuffed the Rays hitters for most of the afternoon working 7 innings allowing 1R/ER on 2 hits striking out 10 and walking 1. Koji Uehara worked a scoreless 8th before turning the ball over to Andrew Bailey who allowed the game tying run in the ninth but is credited with the victory (1-0, 1.69 ERA).
The one thing that can make a struggling offense grip their bats even harder is falling behind early to an opponent. So using Murphy's Law of course the Red Sox put the pressure on the Rays in the very first inning. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a triple and came home on a Shane Victorino groundout and just like that 1-0 Boston.
In the top of the fourth inning, Dempster presented Longoria with a down and inside fastball that didn't quite get down or inside enough, and Longoria golfed it out over the monster to tie the game. Dempster had been playing the edge of the zone, but doing so with hittable pitches. The Rays needed to either take that pitch or hit their pitch when it's there.. Longoria did the latter.
While Longoria's homer drew the Rays even, Jeremy Hellickson's settled in nicely and after the leadoff triple to Ellsbury retired the next 12 in a row including six strikeouts. His momentum ended in the bottom of the fifth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the 6th inning with a solo homer on an 0-2 fastball to put the Red Sox up 2-1. The inning got a little more tenuous when Stephen Drew hit a 1-out double off the monster but Hellickson came back and struck out Jonny Gomes and got Jackie Bradley Jr. to fly out to Desmond Jennings.
The Rays fought back in the top of the 6th and had Kelly Johnson at 3rd and Ben Zobrist at 1st with Evan Longoria at the plate. Not only did the Rays have a favorable matchup but they had Ryan Dempster on his 26th pitch of the inning which Longoria drove into the hole at short. Stephen Drew fielded the ball and threw to the one spot where the Rays didn't have a favorable matchup which was at first base where umpire Angel Hernandez called Evan Longoria out when he was safe. The out call extended the Rays to 0 for their last 24 with runners in scoring position...more importantly it eliminated the fatigued Dempster from facing Matt Joyce which could have been an interesting plate appearance.
The Rays did come back and tie the game in the top of the ninth off Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey. Desmond Jennings led off with a single, stole second, and came around to score on a soft line drive off the bat of Ben Zobrist that fell just in front of a divign Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Rays looked in great position to take the lead as Bradley's throw home got by the catcher and Zobrist advanced to second with nobody out. Unfortunately, like so many other times with runners in scoring position the Rays came up empty as Evan Longoria struck out swinging, Matt Joyce was called out on strikes, and Ryan Roberts weakly popped out to Dustin Pedroia.
Joel Peralta came in to work the ninth inning and retired Shane Victorino to begin the frame but walked Dustin Pedroia. Peralta threw a 2-2 splitter to Mike Napoli and he drove it high off the monster which allowed Pedroia to race around from first with the winning run.
The Rays drop to 4-8 and are in last place in the AL East and the Red Sox improve to 8-4 and are in first place in the AL East.