Records Entering Series: TB (10-13, 4th in AL East), BOS (19-5, 1st in AL East)
Tampa took a 6-game win streak into Boston and continued to roll, taking 2 of 3 from the 1st place Red Sox.
The Rays outhit Boston 38-27 in the series, their pitching looked better, and overall they looked far more confident than the faltering Red Sox.
Xander Bogaerts looked good in his return, Rick Porcello pitched well again, and J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts continued their hot streaks, so there are still some nice things for Boston to lean on and carry forward with them, but they’ll be disappointed in losing this series, especially with it being at Fenway Park.
Game 1: TB-4, BOS-3
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Tampa started the game by scoring 2 in the 1st from a Ramos home run that also scored Cron. They added another in both the 3rd and the 4th off of solo shots by Refsnyder and Robertson, respectively.
Boston kept pecking away and clawed back to make it close, though. Their scoring began in the 6th when Vazquez doubled to left and was driven home by a Betts double. Martinez added another with a double of his own 2 batters later, scoring Betts.
The Sox added another in the 8th with Martinez once again driving in Betts, this time with a single after Betts had hit another double of his own, making it a 1-run game.
That’s all the Boston could muster, though, and the Rays took the opener.
Drew Pomeranz had a rough one. He went 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. He gave up 3 home runs, 2 of which were hit off of mistake pitches that caught too much of the middle of the plate.
The bullpen, on the other hand, performed very admirably. Hector Velazquez and Heath Hembree combined for 4 IP, allowing just 4 hits and 0 runs.
Other notable performances include Bogaerts (3 hits), Betts (2 hits, 1 RBI, 2 runs), and Martinez (2 hits, 2 RBI).
Game 2: TB-12, BOS-6
(Photo credit: ESPN)
It’s not often a team scores a run in each of the first 5 innings and loses, but that’s exactly what happened to the Red Sox in game 2.
The scoring began in the bottom of the 1st, when Betts, Benintendi and Ramirez loaded the bases from a HBP, single and walk, respectively. Bogaerts brought Betts home with a sac fly, but that was all. Denard Span responded with a freak inside the park HR that also scored Ramos in the 2nd on a rather mundane line drive to center that took an odd hop and got past JBJ.
Boston made it 2-1 in the 2nd when Nunez and JBJ singled to put men on 1st and 3rd. Vazquez followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice double play that scored Nunez. Tampa again scored 2 in response with a 2-run HR by Ramos. Boston added their 3rd in the bottom half when Benintendi, Ramirez and Martinez loaded the bases with a double, single and walk. Bogaerts drove home Benintendi with a single, but again Boston settled for just one run.
The Sox tied it up in the 4th when Ramirez singled to left to bring home Betts, who had doubled with 1 out. Tampa added another in the 5th with a bases loaded walk, and Devers tied it up again with a solo homer to left in the bottom half.
The Rays scored a run in each of the next 3 innings, then put the game to bed with 4 in the 9th. Boston nabbed a consolation run in the bottom of the 9th when Devers drove home Benintendi with an infield single, but it ended 12-6 in favor of Tampa.
David Price was uncharacteristically (at least for this year) off in this one, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks, while giving up 2 home runs and fanning just 5. Brian Johnson had by far his worst outing of the year in relief, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits in 2 IP.
Other notable performances include Benintendi and Devers (3 hits each), and Ramirez (2 hits). Boston racked up 12 hits total, but it was a game of missed opportunities for them, as they had the bases loaded with no outs twice and tallied just 2 runs from those situations.
Game 3: TB-3, BOS-4
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Boston took the final game of the series, snapping Tampa’s 8-game winning streak.
Tampa took a 3-0 lead into the 6th (off of a 2-run HR by Span and an RBI single by Smith), but Boston made up all of those runs in the bottom of the 6th.
Nunez led off the 6th with a single, then Benintendi walked and Ramirez singled to load them up. Martinez singled to drive in Nunez and Benintendi, then Moreland walked to load the bases again. After Devers struck out, Bradley hit a sac fly, bringing home Ramirez and tying it up.
The winning run for Boston came in the 8th when Martinez singled to lead off, JBJ walked 3 batters later, and Leon singled to score Martinez.
Rick Porcello had another strong outing, allowing 3 runs from 7 hits while striking out 6 for his 5th quality start in as many opportunities this year. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings for the win.
J.D. Martinez went 4-for-4 with 2 RBI to lead the offense.
-Boston has been very frustrating of late, going 4-5 in their last 9 and playing pretty poorly during that span. After seeing what this team is capable of over the first 3 or so weeks of the season, it’s somewhat maddening to watch them underperform like they have.
-After being so opportunistic and clutch with their hitting to begin the year, game 2, in which they loaded the bases with no outs twice and only scored 2 runs, was so deflating.
-Xander Bogaerts returned from the DL in a big way, going 4-8 with 2 RBI in 2 games. With the offense sputtering as of late, he could be a big jolt to the lineup that jump starts the bats again.
-Eduardo Nunez has performed admirably to begin the year, but it’s obvious how much Pedroia’s return could add to this team. Red Sox Nation has about another month of waiting before it sees their dirt dog 2nd baseman in uniform again.
-Benintendi is still struggling to find his groove. He’s put up some really nice multi-hit games a few times this year (like his 3 hit performance in game 2), but has found it difficult to follow them up and get into a hot spell.
-David Price and Drew Pomeranz both looked very vulnerable in their respective starts. Pomeranz gave up 3 bombs and barely hit the high 80’s with his fastball in game 1, and Price never seemed to find his stuff in game 2.
-Continuing on Pomeranz, he hasn’t looked great in his 2 starts so far this year, and he was especially bad in this one vs. Tampa. With Velazquez pitching lights out and Johnson showing how reliable he can be (despite his rough outing in game 2), Pomeranz may only have a couple more opportunities to prove his worth before being relegated to a lesser role in favor of one of those 2.
-Porcello, on the other hand, continues to arguably be Boston’s best starter. He recorded his 5th quality start in as many outings, and just now gave up his first HR of the year after allowing a league high 38 in 2017.
-This defense is far inferior than their league leading fielding % suggests. It’s been ugly out there with the gloves at times.