Beginning a pivotal series against the Boston Red Sox, the Rays looked to start the series out on a positive note with a win at Fenway Park.
With no opener required, Yonny Chirinos started the game for the Rays, facing off against Rick Porcello and the Red Sox. In every single start against the Rays dating back to April of 2018, Porcello has allowed at least two runs.
In the second inning, Ji-Man Choi did his part to try and extend that streak, hitting a solo home run to right center field, giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead. Barreling an 81 mph changeup, Choi returned the ball at 99 mph, sending it 394 feet.
In the fourth inning, Brandon Lowe singled and Avisail Garcia promptly did the same, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Following a wild pitch by Porcello to move both runners up and two outs later, Kevin Kiermaier stepped up to the plate in a prime run-scoring position. With a full count, Kiermaier shot a ball into right field, beating Boston’s shift and plating the two runners.
Kiermaier decided that two runs driven in were not enough for him, so he decided to drive home another run in the sixth inning, driving a ball into left field. Avisail Garcia was plated for the second time tonight, increasing the Rays’ lead to 4-0. The sixth inning would be Porcello’s final inning, and the Red Sox would bring in Josh Taylor to relieve Porcello.
Yonny Chirinos worked eight shutout innings tonight, and through his first five innings, Chirinos was perfect. Chirinos was spectacular the entire night, and when things got dicey in the sixth inning, Chirinos activated his clutch mode and stranded the bases loaded, striking out Andrew Benintendi looking and Rafael Devers swinging to end the inning and preserve the shutout.
Chirinos pitched as well as he has all season long, throwing eight innings of two-hit baseball. With 101 pitches thrown, 62 of those being strikes, Chirinos walked two, struck out six and allowed zero runs before making way to Emilio Pagan to close this one out.
Before Pagan could pitch in the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Kiermaier capitalized on his strong game with a home run to right field off of Mike Shawaryn. Shawaryn, who made his Major League debut tonight, was strong in the eighth inning, but was welcomed to the Majors in a loud way in the ninth inning by Kiermaier, who recorded his fourth RBI on the night.
Emilio Pagan allowed a leadoff hit to Benintendi to start the ninth, struck out Rafael Devers shortly after, but allowed Benintendi to score after Xander Bogaerts doubled off of the Green Monster. Pagan quickly recorded the final two outs, however, and the Rays defeated the Red Sox 5-1 to open the series on a strong note.
Yonny Chirinos was brilliant in his eight innings of work, and Kevin Kiermaier’s first RBI base-hit ultimately was the difference-maker in this one, although his later hits kept the Red Sox further and further out of this one.
The second game of the series will take place tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm, and will be the first game in tomorrow’s doubleheader at Fenway Park.