The Rays just went head to head against the best pitcher in the AL, one of the toughest pitchers in all of baseball, with a rookie starter and his lucky duck.
That’s one lucky duck.
Jacob Faria has certainly had a charmed start to his major league career. He finished the game pitching six innings, and giving up just four hits and one earned one, despite registering four walks along with just two strikeouts.
Faria was able to work around a very formidable Boston lineup, and each and every time he got into a jam he was able to make the pitch that would get him out of trouble. It also helped that the guy behind the plate was Wilson Ramos.
In the first inning, after a single to Pedroia and hitting Bogaerts, Faria was in an early jam. He was able to get Moreland to fly out on his fastball, and Hanley to ground out on a slider.
In the second, after a lead-off single put Benintendo 64 on first base, Ramos was able to cut him down trying to swipe second.
The third was the shakiest inning for Faria. A walk to Tzu-Wei Lin, a single to Dusty P (rejected member of fellow Boston supergroup the Funky Bunch), and a just deep enough sacrifice fly ball from Sandy Leon later, and the Red Sox had an early lead. However, that would be it for their offense on the evening, as Faria settled down nicely.
A 1-2-3 fourth inning, and a technically facing of the minimum 5th inning were nice bounce back innings for the young Faria.
The technically part comes from the fact that he did allow a lead-off walk to Lin. However, Ramos was still in the game and he was not letting the Red Sox take one extra base if he could help it. After Faria spiked a 2 strike pitch in the dirt, Lin got greedy thinking he could slip past the Buffalo.
Wilson Ramos has arrived, and tonight showed exactly what the big man is capable of. Behind the plate he was excellent, but he brought his lumber to yard.
In the fourth inning, Ramos tied the game up with a sharp RBI double.
I do want to shine a special spotlight that we keep on hand just for times when big guys hustle as fast as they can (think Jose Molina going first to third). It’s sneaky one of my favorite plays in sports, and LoMo did a fantastic job chugging his large frame hurtling around the bases, scoring from first.
Peter Bourjos (yes, that Peter Bourjous) gave the Rays the lead, and I suppose ultimately the winning run, by taking Chris Sale deep for a laser shot home run.
There are sentences that make sense and then there are sentences like Peter Bourjous took Chris Sale deep for a laser shot home run.
The Buffalo was not done with the bat, and would give the Rays some cushion with a long ball of his own, crushing a first pitch fastball from Sale.
I love me some bat flips, but that bat drop was even better.
The Rays offense was not its most explosive. While Souza got to wear Golden Sombrero, the rest of the Rays lineup put up a total of 12 Ks against Sale. However, this is Chris Sale we are talking about, and getting 4 runs off of him is not easily done (only twice before in 2017 has Sale given up four or more ER). I’ll take that any day of the week.
The bullpen came on in the seventh to hold this 4-1 lead. Brad Boxberger, Tommy Hunter, and Alex Colome certainly looks like the big three Cash and the Rays are going to be counting on for the second half push.
Boxberger came in and continued to dominate. Boxy threw thirteen pitches, nine for strikes, and struck out two in a perfect inning of relief. The second of his strikeouts came against Mookie Betts. Here’s how that sequence went:
Fastball middle away, called strike
Fastball low away, foul ball
Fastball high, swinging strike.
Boxberger attacked a really good hitter, with three fastballs, all in the zone, and struck him out.
Hunter and Colome worked fairly efficiently as well, and closed out the 8th and 9th, finishing off the Red Sox in the first game of a very huge series.