The Tampa Bay Rays took on the Boston Red Sox on opening day for the home opener in Fenway Park. On a chilly afternoon that saw one of the coldest first pitches in Rays history at 40 degrees.
Yonny Chirinos was handed the ball on bullpen day. Early Chirinos had problems keeping his offspeed pitches up in the zones, but the Red Sox hitters didn’t take advantage of any mistakes.
In the bottom of the first Andrew Benintendi singled with one out. Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging for the second out and Wilson Ramos dropped the ball out of his glove and Benintendi took off from first. Ramos casually picked up the ball and fired a lazer to Daniel Robertson covering second to end the inning.
JD Martinez led off the bottom of the second with a towering flyball to centerfield. The 25+ mile per hour sustained winds caused Kevin Kiermaier to misplay the ball into a triple. Chirinos picked up his defense with three infield groundballs that failed to drive in the run.
The Rays finally put a rally together against David Price with a lead off double by Daniel Robertson ahead of Rays newest two true outcome hitter Rob Refsnyders’ first walk of the afternoon (.000/.556/.000 157 wRC+ with a 55.6% BB rate and 33.3% strikeout rate). The Rays failed to put the first run on the board with a groundout and two infield fly balls.
In the fifth inning Robertson and Refsnyder started a one out rally with back to back walks. Matt Duffy and Kevin Kiermaier couldn’t plate a run.
Chirinos left after five scoreless innings in his first career start. He allowed three hits and struck out four while not issuing a walk.
Slider specialists Chaz Roe and Sergio Romo worked scoreless frames to keep the game tied at zero through seven innings.
Mallex Smith worked a walk pinch hitting for Refsnyder to get the eighth inning started. Mallex went off on a 1-1 pitch that Matt Duffy smashed over the center field wall to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Jose Alvarado kept the lead safe with a clean eighth inning capped off with strikeouts of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez.
Alex Colome entered in the ninth looking to pick up his second save of the year. The inning got off to a rough start following an 0-2 single by Mookie Betts ahead of an Andrew Benintendi walk. Hanley Ramirez looked to walk it off one a middle cut breaking ball, but missed. On the next pitch he cut the lead to one with a single up the middle leaving the tying run on second. JD Martinez grounded to Hechavarria for a double play with a nice scoop by Brad Miller.
Xander Bogaerts continued his hot start to the year with a liner to left field that went just over Mallex Smith’s glove as he jumped into the wall for a double that tied the game at two. The Rays elected to intentionally walk Rafael Devers. Eduardo Nunez smashed a grounder that deflected off Duffy’s glove right to Hechavarria to keep Bogaerts at third and load the bases with two outs. Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded to Daniel Robertson and instead of step on second base he spun around and fired the ball to first. Bradley was called out on the field, but the Red Sox challenged. Miller’s defense preserved the tie. Colome blew his first save of the year.
Craig Kimbrel came in for the tenth. Denard Span was called upon to hit for Robertson. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity the Rays gathered a hit off Kimbrel. Span was off on a hit and run that Mallex execute almost perfectly sending a groundball towards the vacated shortstop, but Bogaerts was able to get back to the ball and throw Mallex out at first. He was successful in moving Span to second with one out. Duffy struck out for out number two. Kiermaier came to the plate looking to put one in the gap to get out of the slump to start the year (batting .074/.107/.074 and a -57 wRC+ on the season entering the plate appearance). Kimbrel issued Kiermaier a walk passing the baton to Carlos Gomez. Gomez walked on five pitches passing the baton to CJ Cron with the bases loaded. Cron struck out leaving the game tied.
Andrew Kittredge entered looking to force an eleventh inning. With one out Kittredge got Betts to strikeout swinging a beautiful slider just below the zone for the second out of the inning. Benintendi hit a weak flyball to center to end the inning.
Bobby Poyner came on to relieve Kimbrel. This time Poyner does get to face Brad Miller. Miller struck out swinging.
Martinez hit a sharp grounder up the middle with one out against Kittredge in the eleventh. Blake Swihart replaced Martinez on the bases. Bogaerts once against mashed a baseball. This time it was directly at Duffy for an out. After the 1-0 pitch snuck under Ramos’ glove advancing Swihart to second the Rays once again chose to intentionally walk Devers. Nunez grounded to third to force a twelfth inning.
Joey Wendle singled on a grounder to right field in his first at bat of the game. Mallex laid down a bunt to move him to second. Wendle moved to third on a Duffy fly ball to right. Kiermaier once again failed to get the run across the plate.
Bradley Jr. hit a 2-1 pitch to the right-centerfield gap for a leadoff double. Vazquez bunted Bradley Jr. over to third with one out. Betts was issued an intentional walk to setup the double play. Ryan Yarbrough called on to face Benintendi. After getting ahead 0-2 Benintendi fouled off a few pitches and worked a walk to load the bases. Hanley Ramirez came to the plate with the bases loaded with one out. Any flyball wins the game. Ramirez hits the ball over the drawn in right fielder for the 3-2 victory.
Another solid showing by the long men on bullpen day and another one run loss to the Red Sox.