Perhaps Austin Pruitt is a magical weapon, used best against mighty giants. Against Chris Sale, Pruitt was once again up to the challenge to duel an all-star pitcher.
Austin Pruitt went 6 innings, giving up a scattering of 7 hits, most of which were weak contact that found some holes. Most importantly, Pruitt kept the Rays in the game, giving them a glimmer of hope.
The Red Sox were only able to manage 1 run, and barely that, off of the rookie Pruitt. In the 3rd inning, Pruitt seemingly induced the double play that would erase the rally that brought the Sox runners on 1st and 2nd with no out. Unfortunately, Hechavarria, the guy the Rays traded for (and moved Beckham to create extra space for) because he is a “defensive wizard” was unable to turn the double play.
Hech took a somewhat tough, but by no means difficult bounce awkwardly, letting it get into the body. Hech was off balance, and only able to get the force at 2nd.
I know this was not a routine double play ball, but it was certainly close enough for a guy who was brought in to make plays like this. Hech’s bat has been abysmal, basically unplayable so far, but his glove is why the Rays have put up with that and written his name in the lineup card, night in and night out. Turning this play is the reason the Rays have made multiple questionable and debatable moves to improve the defense.
When you focus on elite defenders, you are really talking about just a handful or less of plays per game. This was one of those plays.
This would immediately come back to haunt the Rays, as Pruitt got Rafael Devers to weakly ground right back to Pruitt on the mound. Pruitt managed to knock the ball down, and try and make the throw somewhat up hill to start the inning ending double play. Pruitt’s throw would be off target, forcing Hech to dive for the catch and force out at 2nd, allowing the Red Sox to push through the only run Pruitt would give up.
Chris Sale is a really tough pitcher. Last time he took the mound, he got tagged for 7 runs against Cleveland. You don’t want to be the team after the team that beats up angry, flame throwing, pitchers.
Sale carved through the Rays like he carves through a throwback. The Rays have a dynamite offense against right handed pitchers, but against lefties the lineup card looks quite a bit more like ACME brand dynamite.
In Sale’s last six starts against the Rays, he has struck out 12 Rays. That includes four straight this year. Tonight he K’d 13.
The Red Sox were able to turn the ball over to Kimbrel in the 9th after Sale went 8 strong. That’s stupid and unfair. Pretty sure we should see if that’s against the rules. Maybe force the team to use Dana Eveland for at least 2 batters to make it sporting?
Kimbrel struck out the side, Duda, Longo and LoMo all swinging.
- Early in the game, the Red Sox called for Mookie Betts to drop a straight sacrifice bunt. That’s silly and dumb. Mookie after 2 strikes decided to swing, and nearly hit a 3-run HR the opposite way, that missed foul by inches. The baseball gods almost rewarded that stupidity.
- The Rays decided to also call for a straight sacrifice bunt from Souza to try and move LoMo to 2nd against Sale in the 7th. Only pitchers or (position players hitting worse than pitchers) should be the ones you even consider calling for a giveaway out bunt. I get the temptation. It’s a 1 run game, it’s Chris Sale, you are trying to manufacture a way to tie the game. But what you really did was sacrifice Steven Souza Jr to allow Wilson Ramos and Aidenny Hechavarria a chance to get a base hit against Chris Sale. I don’t know if that was Cash’s call or Souza’s, but I’m not a fan of that choice.
- Sergio Romo gave up a deep fly ball to the LF wall, and watching it on the Rays broadcast, both the camera man and Dewayne Staats thought it was gone. Apparently Jackie Bradley Junior also did, or more than likely forgot how many outs there were, because JBJ was standing at 3rd base when he discovered Mallex had made the catch and the ball was on its way back to 1st to end the inning.
- Speaking of Romo: tremendous job from him to go 1 and 1⁄3 innings, giving up one hit and the one deep fly out, and keep the game just 1-0. Sergio Romo started his Rays career pretty rough, but has settled into his role nicely in this rebuilt pen.
- The best hit ball by the Red Sox all night was the double play deep fly ball to Mallex Smith in LF. Red Sox were 1-14 with RISP, but still “generated” 2 runs. That’s baseball I guess.