Mookie Betts was the offense for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. The outfielder homered to lead-off the sixth inning — the first hit off Rays starter Drew Smyly — and added another in the eighth to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Smyly was in control of the Boston lineup, especially before the sixth inning, allowing only three batters to reach on a pair of walks and an error while fanning six overall. In spite of the solo shot and a rumbling double by David Ortiz, Smyly left the game having allowed only one run and two hits.
Credit where it’s due, Smyly was aided by his teammates behind him. Kevin Kiermaier kept the game scoreless with a leaping grab at the triangle — 420 feet in right-center field — robbing David Ortiz of a potential home run to start the fourth.
Then in the fifth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera stole another hit from Boston with a great diving grab on a liner off the bat of Blake Swihart to end the frame.
Alas Smyly’s former teammate Rick Porcello also was sharp. He scattered eight hits over seven innings, all of the hits were singles, and no more than two came in any frame. Tampa Bay had a chance to put together an inning in the fourth when Evan Longoria* and David DeJesus singled to start the inning. With the count 1-1 on Logan Forsythe, manager Kevin Cash put on a hit and run play, but Forsythe lined into an 8-6 double play that ended the rally.
Alexi Ogando followed Porcello in the eighth, and Koji Uehara got the ninth — both oh whom stifled Tampa Bay. Xavier Cedeno threw another scoreless inning for the Rays, but Ernesto Frieri allowed a first-pitch homer to Betts in the eighth for an insurance run.
The colloquialism stands: you can’t win games if you don’t score runs. To put things in perspective, out of the 4860 regular season games in 2014, only 56 were shutouts — a 56-to-4860 ratio, or in other words a 1% chance for any given pitcher (or team) to blank the opposition. And while a shutout wasn’t probable, Smyly came close and kept his team in the game throughout. Unfortunately the batters couldn’t string together enough consecutive hits to give Drew anything but a hard-luck loss.
Be that as it may, over his three starts this season Smyly has posted a 2.70 ERA/4.25 FIP/11.34 K9/1.62 BB9 in 16-2/3 innings. Furthermore, he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any game in 10 total starts with Tampa Bay (extending back to 2014). Smyly will prove even more valuable with the bad news surrounding Alex Cobb.
*Longoria picked up his 1,000th hit on the single, joining Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist as the only Rays to collect 1,000 hits or more.
The New What Next
The Rays will wrap up their road series Wednesday night with Alex Colome pitching opposite fellow righty Justin Masterson.
Masterson has quietly strung together some solid performances of late. He has allowed three runs or fewer in four of his five starts. Colome is coming off a powerful season debut against the Orioles last Friday in which he threw five scoreless innings of three-hit ball, accruing six strikeouts along the way. This will be his first career appearance against Boston.
Rays 5/6/15 Starting Lineup
— Congrats on hit number 1,000, Evan!
— Jake McGee pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday night. McGee could return to the back end of the bullpen by the next home-stand.
— In case you’re wondering, Steven Souza Jr. had a scheduled day off. That is, he isn’t injured.