In spite of a seventh inning filled with defensive miscues, the Tampa Bay Rays won the first of a six-game road trip, 5-4 against the Red Sox. Evan Longoria homered over the Green Monster in the fifth inning, while Alex Cobb hurled one-hit baseball over the first six frames.
Tampa Bay initially took the lead in the fourth, taking advantage of a leadoff error by third baseman Josh Rutledge, allowing Longoria to reach. After Logan Morrison struck out, Rickie Weeks Jr. lined through the right side for a single, putting two on. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball Sandy Leon before Tim Beckham ripped an RBI single into the left-center alley, scoring Longoria and Weeks to cap the rally.
They were able to extend the lead to five runs in the fifth inning, and Derek Norris got things going with an infield single to third. Rutledge fielded the ball cleanly, but took way too much time to make his throw over to first — likely assuming that Norris was from the Jose Molina school of running. Rutledge guessed incorrectly, and the play was first scored an E6, but later changed to a hit. Norris scored from first on Corey Dickerson’s double off the top of the center field wall — an extra base hit that would have been a homer in any other ball park. After Dickerson advanced to third on Brad Miller’s sacrifice fly to deep centerfield, Longoria sent a mammoth homer out of Fenway Park for a five-run advantage.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 13, 2017
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 13, 2017
You’d think a five-run lead would be easy to hold, especially with the way Cobb dealt through the first six innings. However, multiple errors in the seventh put the lead in jeopardy. With one out and none on, Chris Young hit a shallow fly to right. I’ll let Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) to call the play-by-play on this gaffe:
Logan Morrison ran out from first base while Colby Rasmus came in from right. Morrison had a tough play, needing to make a catch over his shoulder, while Rasmus had an easy play—if he could get there. That’s why the outfielder is expected to take charge in that situation. Morrison glanced at Rasmus and thought he would, slowing up for a step and a half. But Rasmus never fully got on his horse, and by the time Morrison realized he had to make the play it was too late. The ball fell between them.
A clearly frustrated Cobb then walked Mitch Moreland bringing Rutledge to the plate. Boston’s third baseman bunted up the third base line, and Cobb — who fielded the play — threw past first base, and into the stands, for what was scored an infield hit and a throwing error, giving the BoSox their first run.
Then with a pair of runners in scoring position, Leon blooped a ground-rule double into the stands in right, making it 5–3. Cobb, the unfortunate recipient of the BABIP luck dragons, was pulled in favor of Jose Alvarado. And while Alavardo induced a ground ball to second from Jackie Bradley Jr., Miller booted booted the play, allowing a run to score. Miller then threw the ball past second, allowing Bradley to move into scoring position on his second error of the play (and the third of the inning). Erasmo Ramirez got the final two outs in the seventh, although he ran into trouble an inning later.
Erasmo allowed a double by Xander Bogaerts, hit just past a diving Longoria, to open the inning. Then Andrew Benintendi walked on a 3–2 pitch, and Chris Young flew out to right, moving Bogaerts to third. Cash called upon LOOGY Danny Farquhar to collect a huge strikeout from Moreland for the second out of the inning. Finally, Alex Colome entered the fracas and induced a groundout to third from Rutledge. Inning over.
Colome posted a perfect ninth to earn the save, getting Mookie Betts to fly to left center to end the contest.
The New What Next
The Rays play the second game of the series on Saturday. Left-hander Blake Snell (0-3, 3.96 ERA, 5.03 FIP) will toe the rubber opposite of Chris Sale (3-2, 1.92 ERA, 1.45 FIP). The game was moved to 1:05 PM because of the potential for inclement weather.
Snell continued to struggle with fastball command on Monday against Kansas City, as he allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk, while fanning two in five innings. He now has pitched five innings or fewer in six consecutive starts. The southpaw allowed four runs in five innings against Boston in April, although only one of those runs was earned.
Sale is coming off his worst start of the year, allowing a season-high four runs to Minnesota, yet he still struck out 10 and earned the win. Sale struck out 12 Rays over seven innings on April 15, and has double-digit strikeouts in his last six starts — two away from tying the Major League record that he shares with Pedro Martinez. Key matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-6, RBI), Logan Morrison (2-6)
You can read about the pitching matchup, and so much more, in our series preview, and I’ll post the starting lineup upon availability.
Rays 5/13/17 Starting Lineup
— Medical matters, courtesy of Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times):
OF Steven Souza Jr. said his bruised right thumb felt “much better” Friday, as he was considered available to pinch-hit and expects to be back in the lineup today or Sunday for the first time since Monday. … SS Matt Duffy felt slight soreness in his left heel during his second rehab game Thursday but is slated to play again tonight for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs. … RHP Tommy Hunter, sidelined since a late April calf strain, is slated to throw his first bullpen session today.