The Tampa Bay Rays fell behind early, yet battled back late once again to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 8-4. It was the Rays’ league-leading 36th come-from-behind win of the season and the sixth win in a row against Boston.
At 69-44 on the season, the Rays enter play Wednesday a season-high 25-games over .500 and with a five-game lead in the division.
Luis Patiño got the start Tuesday against Boston and allowed four runs on six hits (including two home runs) and three walks while striking out seven. Patiño threw 60 of 103 pitches for strikes (58% strike rate) and got 10 swinging strikes (10% SwStr%, which is just under his season average). Boston only scored twice against the right-hander, who pitched better than his line might suggest. Rafael Devers homered off Patiño in the second inning, while Boston put together a two-out rally in the fourth which preceded a Hunter Renfroe three-run homer to centerfield. He settled down and left the bases full in the fifth inning, while also striking out a pair in the sixth to keep the Rays within striking distance. Most impressive about the 21-year-old: he showed poise and confidence on the mound despite the fact that he staked himself to a three-run deficit. While a four-spot against his ledger isn’t pretty, Patiño was able to navigate through one of the league’s toughest lineups with spotty command and still averaged more than one punchout per inning.
Brandon Lowe answered Devers’ homer with a no-doubter of his own in the third inning, tying the game at one apiece on his 25th homer of the season.
Then down 4-1 in the sixth, Tampa Bay began to mount their comeback. It all started with “Gator” Mike Zunino, who doubled against Boston’s starter, Eduardo Rodriguez. With one out, Nelson Cruz walked before Wander Franco singled to center, cutting the lead to a pair. To their credit, Boston’s relief corps was able to limit the damage. Yet, Tampa Bay rallied again an inning later.
Garrett Whitlock, in relief, allowed a one-out single to right to Manuel Margot before Lowe doubled to left to put the tying runs aboard. Ji-Man Choi came up big out of the pinch-hit role again, this time doubling off the Green Monster — tying the game at four. Choi promptly departed the contest with left hamstring soreness.
Tampa Bay had chances to pull ahead in the seventh, not to mention the eighth inning when they left the bases loaded, yet they were able to break the deadlock in the ninth against beleaguered closer Matt Barnes.
Knotted up at four, Randy Arozarena started the winning rally with a double to right. After Cruz went down swinging through a center-cut 97 mph fastball, Franco walked putting two men aboard. Yandy Díaz struck out, although Austin Meadows walked on four pitches — loading the bases for the second consecutive inning. Francisco Mejía came through, lining an 86 mph 1-1 hanger into right. Hunter Renfroe couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly, allowing all three runners to score.
Martín Pérez took over for Barnes, and after Margot was intentionally walked, Lowe looped a single into center, plating Mejía and capping the scoring.
That made a winner out of Andrew Kittredge, who threw two scoreless frames and scattered three hits (two in the same frame) while striking out five. Louis Head, recently recalled from Durham in light of DJ Johnson’s injury, finished up with a perfect 1-2-3 ninth.
The New What Next
Josh Fleming (9-5, 4.12 ERA) will either start or pitch behind an opener on Wednesday since Ryan Yarbrough, who was slated to go in the second game of the set, was scratched due to COVID-19 protocols. Fleming will pitch opposite of Nathan Eovaldi (9-7, 4.07 ERA).
Josh Fleming allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six in five innings, on Wednesday against the Mariners. The left-hander was removed in the sixth inning after allowing a leadoff triple to Mitch Haniger, who ultimately scored on a sacrifice fly. Fleming has thrown five innings and struck out at least six in consecutive turns after failing to reach either mark in his previous four outings. The 25-year-old has developed into a valuable starter for the Rays, posting a 4.12 ERA and a 4.18 FIP, with a 1.18 WHIP and a 2.59 K/BB in 87.1 innings this season. Fleming is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in one, five-inning outing (in which he surrendered three runs) against the Red Sox on the season.
Nathan Eovaldi surrendered seven runs on eight hits and two walks over 4.2 innings Friday against the Blue Jays. He struck out four. The right-hander seemed to be in firm control as he blanked Toronto through four frames, but the wheels fell off in the fifth as the Jays sent 14 men to the plate and scored nine times. Eovaldi has been tagged for at least five runs in three of his last five starts, saddling him with a 5.09 ERA since the beginning of July despite a strong 1.19 WHIP and 8.00 K/BB through 35.1 innings over that stretch. The Rays torched Eovaldi for seven runs on eight hits (including a homer) and two walks across 4.2 innings on August 6. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (5-13, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Wander Franco (1-3, 3B, RBI), Manuel Margot (1-4), Austin Meadows (6-15, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Francisco Mejía (2-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/11/21 Starting Lineup
- Lowe 2B
- Choi 1B
- Cruz DH
- Meadows LF
- Franco SS
- Arozarena RF
- Wendle 3B
- Phillips CF
- Mejia C
- Fleming LHP
— Food for thought from the folks at Rays Metrics: