Tomorrow is another game.
That’s really all you can say after depending on a seven-run ninth inning to reduce the gap of what looked like was going to be the largest margin of defeat in franchise history as the Tampa Bay Rays fell to the Boston Red Sox 20-8 in Wednesday night’s game. It was easily the worst performance for the team with the best record in the American League.
Although this only counts as one loss in the standings, it was really ugly and hard to watch.
Josh Fleming was on the mound to start for the Rays and has been a different pitcher at Tropicana Field compared to on the road. Coming into the game, he was 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA (49.1-IP, 13-ER) at home and 3-2 with a 6.39 ERA (38-IP, 27-ER) on the road. After tonight he probably clicked his heels three times while saying there’s no place like home.
Things got off to a rough start in the first inning allowing three runs on four hits including two doubles. A slow start is no big deal for a Rays team that has demonstrated they can overcome an early deficit but the gap widened quickly with two more runs in the second inning to give the Red Sox a 5-0 lead quickly.
The Rays bats were not helping the cause getting retired in order in the first inning. Austin Meadows got a hit in the second inning for some participation on the boxscore but the Rays allowed Nathan Eovaldi to keep his pitch count low, going down in order on only 10 pitches in the third inning.
After giving up five more runs in the fourth inning, Fleming was replaced by Dietrich Enns with the Rays trailing 10-0. Fleming finished with 3.1 IP, 11 H, 10 ER, 6 BB (2 IBB), 3 K on 81 pitches. In other words, he had a bad day.
The fifth inning was more of the same with Enns allowing 4 more runs leaving the Rays on the business end of a 14-0 deficit without the ability to score a touchdown or go for two as the obligatory football reference is needed when a double-digit lead happens in a baseball game.
It really doesn’t matter how many runs the Red Sox scored if the Rays couldn’t score a single one. Brandon Lowe put an end to any threat of a shutout hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning to make it a more respectable 14-1 game.
Brandon Lowe - Tampa Bay Rays (26) pic.twitter.com/RHLU5Z6osT— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 12, 2021
One fun aspect of a game that is wildly out of hand is the opportunity to see a position player take the mound and pitch. Tonight that honor went to Francisco Mejia and the Red Sox batter took no mercy on him. Mejia’s line after serving eighth inning batting practice was 1.0 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 1 HR on 21 pitches. It may not be possible to give up runs more efficiently. Red Sox extended their lead to 20-1 heading into the ninth inning.
And now 20-1, which unless #Rays score, would be largest margin of defeat in franchise history— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 12, 2021
The Rays appeared to be on their way to the worst defeat in franchise history surpassing the current 18-run margin mark. However, this team also likes to score a lot of runs late in games and tonight was no exception even if it wasn’t enough.
The ninth inning started off with Ji-Man Choi leading off the inning with a single followed by walks to Jordan Luplow and Meadows to load the bases. Wander Franco came up next and took a 2-0 sinker for a ground ball single to right scoring Choi and making it a 20-3 game ending the possibility of the worst loss in franchise history.
Following a Randy Arozarena strikeout, Joey Wendle hit a RBI-single scoring Luplow and brought Brett Phillips to the plate with the bases loaded. Phillips took advantage of the opportunity and hit his third grand slam of the season (EV 101.2, LA 37, 364 ft).
More proof that we don't quit no matter the score pic.twitter.com/xDIVKxU8iB— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 12, 2021
Two hitters later, Mike Zunino hit a solo home run (EV 93.2, LA 31, 369 ft) to score what would be the final run of the game as the Rays lost 20-8.
Despite how lopsided the game was, you have to give credit to the Rays for continuing to make effort to score runs. Ending the game with a seven-run ninth inning continues the consistent performances this team has been putting together in late-innings and should provide confidence that this is a one-game fluke of a blowout from the best team in the American League.
The Rays have now scored 70 runs in the 9th inning this season, 18 more than any other team— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) August 12, 2021
If you told me the Rays would score seven in the ninth inning including a grand slam there is no way I would believe they lost the game by 12, though, they did. Tomorrow is another day and another game for these two teams with first pitch scheduled for 4:10pm ET.