The Tampa Bay Rays sent Andrew Kittredge to the mound to start the game in their first bullpen game of the year. The Red Sox took advantage of a few opportunities to lead to a 3-2 victory over the Rays.
In the top of the second Xander Bogaerts hasn’t missed a hittable pitch this season and he put the Red Sox up 1-0 on a solo shot on a middle cut fastball.
In the top of the third Mookie Betts lined a ground rule double over the Crawford Cutout in left field. Kittredge induced a grounder to second from Andrew Benintendi to end the inning.
Jesus Sucre put up a great eight pitch plate appearance that ended in a walk for the Rays first base runner of the night with two outs in the bottom of the third. Denard Span followed with an opposite field single to give the Rays their first scoring opportunity of the game. Kevin Kiermaier chopped a ball to Bogaerts standing on the second base bag to end the inning.
Hanley Ramirez hit a hard grounder down the third base line past a diving Matt Duffy for a double to start the fourth. JD Martinez grounded out to shortstop for the first out of the inning ending Kittredge’s night.
Overall Kittredge threw the ball well and the couple of mistakes he did make were taken advantage by the Red Sox offense. Kittredge allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in 3.1 innings.
The Lakeland, Florida native Ryan Yarbrough came into the game making his major league debut and was tasked with facing the red hot Bogaerts. Brad Miller made a stellar play sliding towards the camera well for the second out of the inning. Yarbrough command wasn’t on point and walked Mitch Moreland while allowing Hanley to steal third. Eduardo Nunez hit a grounder to third that Miller failed to pick the Matt Duffy bounced throw allowing the Red Sox to take a 2-0 lead. Brock Holt struck out to keep the lead at two.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth Mallex Smith and Jesus Sucre hit back-to-back singles to give the Rays their second scoring opportunity of the game. Span struck out swinigng and Kiermaier popped up to the third baseman to keep the Rays scoreless against Red Sox starting pitching this season.
JD Martinez got things started in the top of the sixth with a bang with an opposite field double that almost was out of the park. Bogaerts hit his sixth extra base hit of the season (five doubles, one homer) to score Martinez and give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. Yarbrough worked around a walk to end the inning with an infield flyball and strikeout.
Carlos Gomez smashed a liner over Benintendi’s head in center field with the first great contact of the game for the Rays offense. Duffy moved Gomez to third with a single. Joey Wendle cut the lead to 3-1 with a sacrifice fly.
After an uneventful seventh inning, Martinez and Bogaerts hit back to back singles to start the eighth. Moreland hit a weak flyball to center field to end the night for Yarbrough.
Yarbrough wasn’t as sharp as he usually is, but was able to limit the damage. Yarbrough ended up throwing 4.0 innings and allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out three.
Overall the Rays have to be happy with what they got out of their long relievers in bullpen day number one. Kittredge and Yarbrough combined for 7.1 innings while allowing three runs, two earned.
Sergio Romo ended the threat by striking out Sandy Leon with the bases loaded.
Gomez took the first pitch of the eighth out of the park for the first Rays homer of the year and cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2. Duffy followed up with a one out single. Duffy’s third single of the game. Duffy stole second, but the Rays weren’t able to tie up the game.
Chaz Roe was tasked with keeping the Red Sox lead at one in the ninth. Betts started off the inning with a walk. With one out Betts attempted a steal and was originally ruled safe. Betts got a great jump, but he was unable to reach around Wendle’s foot to keep contact with the bag. Sucre put the throw on the money leading to the second out of the inning.
Kimbrel has owned the Rays over the past year. Last night he struck out all three batters he faced. Mallex worked a great at bat and took a 50/50 ball at the bottom of the zone and was rewarded with the full count walk. CJ Cron came to the plate pinch hitting for Sucre. Cron was jammed and hit a weak liner to short. Bogaerts made the catch at his shoelaces. Mallex was caught in no man’s land and couldn’t get back to first in time. Span popped up to short to end the game. At least the Rays didn’t strike out against Kimbrel.
The Rays dropped two tough one run games. The Rays look to tie up the series and season record tomorrow as Jacob Faria faces Hector Velazquez at 1:10 PM.