I remember a time, not that long ago in fact, when games against the Boston Red Sox felt essentially do-or-die. The Soc were leading the divison and the Rays were clawing to get their way into first. If you were to ask any non-Rays writers at that point they probably would have indicated it was the Red Sox season to lose.
Now, on the cusp of September, the Red Sox are 8 games out of first place, third in the AL East, and as it turned out it was indeed theirs to lose, and lose it they did.
Of course, whenever the Rays are playing a division rival, the wins matter, and you could tell in tonight’s game they really, really wanted to beat the Sox. And they did.
Taking the mound for the Rays was Luis Patiño, and he got things off to a good start early on in the first, giving up only a single to Martinez, but not a run to be seen. The Rays struck early in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff solo home run off the bat of Brandon Lowe. While his was the only run of the inning, it was certainly an impressive one.
Leadoff Lowe strikes again pic.twitter.com/TF2ii6xFCy— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 30, 2021
Onto the second inning and the Sox were like “hey let’s make it interesting” and with one-out in the inning Dalbec got a solo home run of his own to tie the game 1-1. The Rays bats weren’t totally quiet in the bottom of the inning as Diaz drew a leadoff walk, and Margot got a one-out walk, but sadly neither runner was brought home and the game went on into the third tied.
Patiño set the Sox down in order in the top of the inning, and in the bottom of the third the Rays opted not to continue the tie game. Lowe walked, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Franco grounded out, but advanced Lowe to third, then a Meadows single brought Lowe home and gave the lead back to the Rays.
Bogaerts got a one-out single in the top of the fourth, then Verdugo singled. Dalbec grounded into a fielder’s choice to eliminate Verdugo, and then the inning ended with no runs for the Sox on the next batter. For the Rays it continued to be the Lowe show (which I wish rhymed). Kiermaer got a two-out double, and Zunino struck out BUT then managed to get safely to first on a wild pitch from Pivetta, putting two men aboard because baseball is super weird. Lowe then singled to score Kiermaier and the Rays were up 3-1.
Patiño gave up a lone walk to a newly-returned Kyle Schwarber, but no Sox runs scored. Turning things over to the Rays half of the inning, Diaz hit a two-out ground-rule double, then Wendle was walked intentionally, but the inning ended with no score on the next batter.
Patiño gave up a two-out single to Verdugo, which was ultimately the end of the day for him, as he departed with a line of 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR on 102 pitches. Feyereisen came on in relief and got the third out of the inning efficiently. The Rays continued to build on their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Kiermaier singled to lead things off, then Zunino walked. Pivetta gave way to Robles and ohhhh boy did Robles have a hard time. Also it felt like this inning took a year off my life, and not from stress. Lowe walked, and I’m not sure a single pitch even touched the strikezone. With the bases loaded, Cruz arrived safely at first thanks to an error by Devers, allowing Kiermaier to score and no runners were out.
Robles was able to get three outs after that to end the inning, but it took him about twenty minutes. Rays were up 4-1 by the time Robles was done.
In the top of the seventh, Feyereisen continued a strong outing, giving up a single to Muñoz, but no runs scored, and the bottom of the inning was blessedly quick, even if it wasn’t terribly exciting, as the Rays went down in order.
The eighth was another great turn for the Rays as Pete Fairbanks put the Sox down in order, and then in the bottom of the inning Zunino drew a walk, then Cruz got a one-out double to send Zunino to third. Franco singled, extending his on-base streak to 30 games, and scoring Zunino and Cruz, putting the Rays up 6-1.
In spite of a one-out walk to Dalbec in the top of the ninth, the game ended neatly on a double-play and the Rays got the win.
Final: Rays 6, Red Sox 1