In a game that lasted 13 innings and five hours and fourteen minutes, the comeback kids had a short-lived lead, an epic game-tying eighth, and a game-changing ruling. You’d think with all that the Rays would’ve walked away with a galvanizing win in Boston. Although that wasn’t to be, as Tampa Bay fell to Boston in the bottom of the 13th inning, 6-4. The Rays now trail the best-of-five series two games to one.
The Rays took an early lead in the first inning against former Ray Nathan Eovaldi. Wander Franco singled to right-center with one out — his fifth hit in his first 10 postseason at-bats — before Austin Meadows lashed a two-run home run to right, his first of the ALDS.
Yet, Eovaldi got his first six outs via the strikeout and didn’t surrender another hit until Joey Wendle doubled to left with one out in the fifth. Brandon Lowe, currently mired in an 0-for-14 postseason stretch, lined to center, and Franco grounded to first, ending the threat.
Boston’s right-hander ultimately went five innings, while the Rays went quiet until the eighth inning.
Meanwhile, Boston rallied against Drew Rasmussen, who had allowed just four runs in five regular-season appearances against the Red Sox. Today, however, he lasted just two frames and didn’t get an out in the third inning. Kyle Schwarber homered to left-center to start the home half of the first, cutting the Rays lead in half.
After facing the minimum in the second inning, thanks to a double-play ball, the right-hander allowed three consecutive hits to open the third and was removed with the game tied at two after Kiké Hernández’s collected his second hit of the day.
Josh Fleming — who ended the season with an 0-2 record, and a 7.36 ERA but a 2.90 FIP and a .308 BABIP across his last 3.2 innings of work — entered the contest. The southpaw attempted to keep the bad luck dragons at bay, but alas it was not to be; Rafael Devers hit a ground ball through the middle for a run-scoring hit and Boston’s first lead of the game. Even so, Fleming and Andrew Kittredge limited the damage in the inning and kept Boston off the board until the fifth.
Pete Fairbanks was next on the bump, and the right-hander surrendered a leadoff homer to Hernández to open the fifth, putting Boston up by a pair. It was also the seventh straight plate appearance with a hit for Boston’s centerfielder and the fifth consecutive inning where the leadoff batter reached for Boston.
The Red Sox put the leadoff man on hits in the first six frames and now has 14 in 28 innings in this series. However, four combined scoreless frames by JP Feyereisen, Matt Wisler, and JT Chargois kept the Rays in the game.
Down by a pair and limited to four scattered hits over the first seven innings, Tampa Bay rallied in the eighth against Hansel Robles. Franco led off the inning with a blast over the Green Monster — his first of the postseason. Meadows followed with a double to center, then moved to third on a dribbler in front of the plate by Nelson Cruz. Yandy Díaz struck out after nearly hitting a go-ahead homer, pulling it foul. However, big Randy Arozarena doubled to left-center, tying the ball game. The play was relatively contentious, as Kyle Schwarber stood in Arozarena’s way as he rounded first en route to second, and the Rays could have called for a review of the play due to interference. Kevin Cash, however, opted not to.
The Rays also had a chance to plate the go-ahead run in the tenth inning when Manuel Margot singled off Nick Pivetta to start the frame. After a pair of fly-ball outs, Margot appeared to swipe second, but his foot came off the bag as he over slid it to end the half.
Boston had a chance in the home half of the tenth against David Robertson, the eighth pitcher for the Rays. Alex Verdugo — who is objectively the ugliest player in baseball — singled to left with one out. JD Martinez worked a 10-pitch at-bat, yet he ultimately flew out to the centerfield warning track before Hunter Renfroe popped out to end the frame.
In the 10th inning, Garrett Whitlock entered and walked Kevin Kiermaier intentionally before striking out Mike Zunino to keep the game even.
In the bottom of the frame, Robertson allowed a one-out double to left to Christian Arroyo. But, Bobby Dalbec — who pinch-ran for Schwarber in the ninth — struck out on three pitches for the third out of the inning.
Nick Pivetta, who was expected to start Monday’s contest, pitched the final four innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Still, the Rays had a chance against him in the 11th. Arozarena walked to start the inning then swiped second as Kiermaier struck out end an 11-pitch at-bat. Pivetta rebounded to strike out Zunino and Jordan Luplow to end the threat and finish his second scoreless inning.
Pivetta’s outing was not without controversy, though.
In the top of the 13th, Díaz singled to right with one out, then with two outs, Kiermaier hit a ball over the head of Renfroe in right. The ball bounced off the wall, then deflected off Renfroe and over the wall for a ground-rule double. Díaz, who would have scored, was held at third — he could only score if umpires ruled that the outfielder intentionally hit the ball over the wall. Zunino then struck out to end the threat and keep the game tied.
By rule, it’s just a ground-rule double. The umpires met and got together, and said, you’re more than welcome to challenge it. I saw the replay. Obviously, there was nothing intentional by it. That’s just the rule. That’s the way it goes. It was very unfortunate for us. I think it was fairly obvious that KK or Yandy was going to come around to score, but it didn’t go our way.— Kevin Cash
Sadly, Boston won the game in the 13th against Luis Patiño, who entered the game in the 12th and threw a scoreless six-pitch frame. Renfroe walked with one out before Christian Vazquez homered on the next pitch, ending the marathon contest.
That spoiled fantastic work by the bullpen, which threw 10 innings prior to the 13th, allowing just a run.
Five hours and fourteen minutes later, the comeback kids ended the day on the brink of elimination.
We’ve got to win tomorrow. We don’t really have many choices. Today was a really big win for them and a really tough loss for us.
We put ourselves in a little bit of a bind. We did a great job of having some big at-bats for a little bit there to get back in it. Look, we had opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize. Their pitching was tough but just a lot of swing and miss. When you’re swinging and missing, there’s not much you can do.— Kevin Cash
THE NEW WHAT NEXT
Neither manager has listed a starter for game four of the ALDS, which is expected to be a bullpen day for both clubs.
Collin McHugh (6-1, 1.55 ERA), who did not pitch Sunday, is expected to open for Tampa Bay. McHugh was charged with three runs in 1.2 innings in game two, including a pair of homers. This, after allowing just three homers all season.
After McHugh, it’s all hands on deck for the Rays with Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz available, as well as Luis Patiño along with the other bullpen arms.
Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8, 4.74) is expected to start for Boston. Rodriguez allowed two runs in 1.2 innings before being lifted in game one after just 41 pitches. Rodriguez had a 5.95 ERA at home during the regular season (3.95 on the road). Expect him to be on a short leash once again. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (4-11, 2B), Yandy Díaz (7-17, 2B, 2 BB), Brandon Lowe (4-13, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Manuel Margot (4-12, 2B, RBI), Francisco Mejía (2-5, RBI, BB), Joey Wendle (1-2), Mike Zunino (4-11, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.
RAYS 10/11/21 STARTING LINEUP
- Arozarena RF
- Franco SS
- Lowe 2B
- Cruz DH
- Luplow 1B
- Díaz 3B
- Meadows LF
- Zunino C
- Kiermaier CF
- McHugh RHP