I was initially going to start writing this as an “oh dear, the Rays squandered a tie game and the Red Sox continue to be a thorn in our side” and while those things are still true (the Rays did blow an early tie, and the Red Sox will forever be a thorn), in the seventh inning things got interesting enough that it truly became anyone’s ballgame.
And that’s the thing about the Rays, you can never count them out, can you?
The Rays kicked things off in Boston with a single from Arozarena off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Unfortunately, that heat right out the gate was all for naught, as the next three batters went down in order. In the bottom of the inning, it was Luis Patiño’s show to start things off for the Rays, and while he also gave up a single early, to Duran, the next batter hit into a double-play to end the inning.
In the second, the Rays were hastily dispatched without so much as a walk, and into the bottom of the inning the Sox drew first blood with a Devers (of course) home run to lead things off. Hunter Renfroe got a two-out double, but the inning ended on the next batter. Renfroe was just getting warmed up though.
The Rays were quick to bounce back, as Brandon Lowe hit a solo home run to start the third. While the next three batters were silenced by Rodriguez, the Rays had managed to tie things up early. In the bottom of the inning, Patiño had a 1-2-3 inning of his own, keeping the score at 1-1.
Once again in the fourth inning, the Rays bats were kept silent as they returned to the dugout in order, but the Red Sox weren’t quite so staid in the bottom of the inning. Bogaerts singled to lead things off, Plawecki drew a two-out walk, then Renfroe struck, with a three-run home run, giving the Red Sox the lead they needed.
The top of the fifth wouldn’t offer any reprieve for the Rays, with a strikeout, foul out, strikeout. The Sox had a busy but fruitless bottom of the inning. Cordero singled, Hernandez walked, and Devers drew a two-out intentional walk, which proved to be wise as Martinez flied out to end the inning.
We know full well it’s not like the Rays to take things quietly, and in the top of the sixth they got to work chipping away at the Sox lead. Zunino hit a long double, Cruz drew a one-out walk, then Wander Franco singled to score Zunino. That would chase Rodriguez from the game, and while only the one run scored, it cut the Rays deficit to two runs. It certainly helped that the Sox went down in order to end the bottom of the sixth. It was also the end of the night for Patiño, whose final line for the evening was 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 HR on 103 pitches. Not a perfect night by any stretch, but with the offense backing him up, it also wasn’t terrible.
In the top of the seventh, Luplow (who was playing FIRST tonight? Wearing Ji-Man Choi’s glove?!? So cute) started off with a strikeout, but I just wanted to mention him. Margot singled, Lowe doubled, then Choi hit a deep double that scored Margot and Lowe, and tied the game at 4-4. It looked as if Choi might have hurt his knee sliding into second, and he was immediately replaced by Joey Wendle. Arozarena drew a walk, but no one was able to bring Wendle and Randy home. Andrew Kittredge was on in relief for the Rays, and gave up a two-out infield single to Duran, then a single to Bogaerts, but luckily ended the inning with a flyout to Devers.
Yandy Diaz kicked off the top of the eighth with a single, then Margot drew a two-out walk. Lowe then walked as well, but sadly even with the bases loaded the Rays weren’t able to draw ahead. In the bottom of the eighth we got a Choi update:
Ji-Man Choi, who tied tonight's game with a pinch-hit two-run double, left with soreness in his left hamstring. #Rays— Steve Carney (@stevecarney) August 11, 2021
Plawecki got a one-out single off of Kittredge, but he was the only baserunner allowed for the Sox in the bottom of the inning, and we continued on at 4-4.
Arozarena kicked off the top of the ninth with a ground-rule double. Franco got a walk after a mighty fine at bat. Then Meadows drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Francisco Mejia, in for Zunino, hit a single that snuck by Hunter Renfroe on an error to score Arozarena, Franco, and Meadows and gave the Rays a pretty darned sexy lead. Margot then singled to score Mejia, and Lowe singled to advance Margot to third, and while Wendle couldn’t bring Margot home, the Rays still ended the inning with an 8-4 lead.
It's #RaysUp in the 9th! pic.twitter.com/Jt9eqnCMVw— MLB (@MLB) August 11, 2021
Things came to a Head in the bottom of the ninth (sorry not sorry), as Louis Head came out to keep the Rays lead neatly intact. Head made short work of the Sox to finish the game, and the Rays managed to make it a no-doubt win in a nerve-jangling fashion.
Final: Rays 8, Red Sox 4