Boom! Bang. Bing. Wow. Whew. Hold On. Finally, after 5 hours and 24 minutes a winner emerged at Tropicana Park. The Boston Red Sox jumped on Tampa starter Alex Cobb for six runs on seven hits in the top of the first inning Monday night, then survived multiple Tampa comebacks to eventually outlast the Rays 10-8 in 14 innings in the first game of a three game series. The win marked the 40th of the season for the Red Sox and marked the return of 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks from the DL. One of the first inning hits was a single by Dustin Pedroia, extending his hitting streak to 14 games and extending his on-base streak to 19 straight games.
Boston starter John Lackey gave two runs right back to the Rays in the bottom of the first, surrendering solo home runs to Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria to make it 6-2, then allowed the Rays to chip away in the bottom of the third, closing the score to 6-3 on a bases loaded fielder’s choice on a ground ball by Red Sox nemesis Luke Scott. After giving up three singles to load the bases, Lackey was aided by a great stabbing catch of a line drive off the bat of James Loney by first baseman Mike Carp, in the line up giving Mike Napoli a night off.
Tampa continued to nibble away at Lackey like a rabid duck in the bottom of the fourth. The Red Sox starter gave up back-to-back singles to open the inning and surrendered his fourth run on an RBI single by Ben Zobrist to draw the Rays within 6-4.
Things got even testier in the Ray’s bottom of the 6th when, with two out, Lackey drilled Matt Joyce between the shoulder blades, triggering a benches emptying gathering a=down the first base line. Following an umpire’s warning to both teams, Lackey gave up a single to Ben Zobrist which moved Joyce to third. Boston reliever Craig Breslow came on to quell the riot by striking out Kelly Johnson to end the threat and save Lackey’s position for the win.
Tampa made it a one-run ball game in the bottom of the 7th. With one out, Boston southpaw reliever Andrew Miller gave up a soaring home run to James Loney to close the gap to 6-5, and would have given up even more save for a great running catch at the wall by Shane Victorino on a screeching fly ball from Luke Scott that could have caused more damage. Junichi Tazawa came on for the final out of the 7th by getting Desmond Jennings to pop out to Jarrod Saltalamachia to set up Boston’s eight inning. The Red Sox went quietly, but Tampa didn’t, tieing the score in their half of the frame. With one out Tazawa gave up a double to Escobar, who moved to third on Matt Joyce’s ground out. Escobar wound up scoring on a rare wild pitch by Tazawa to knot the score at 6-6. Ben Zobrist then collected his fourth hit of the night, another double, before Kelly Johnson notched the third out of the inning on a wild pop up around pitcher’s mound that Pedroia stabbed at the last minute when it looked like the Red Sox called a staff meeting on the rubber.
Boston seemingly put the game away in the top of the 10th when Pedroia reached on a BB, moved to second on a fielder’s choice to Ortiz, stole 3rd and scored along with Daniel Nava who drew a walk when Jarrod Saltalamachia stroked a two RBI single to make it 806 Red Sox.
Andrew Bailey came on in the 10th for Boston and promptly gave up a home run to Jose Lobotron to make it 8-7 Boston, then allowed the Rays to tie the game on consecutive walks to Yunel Escobar and Matt Joyce, with the score tied again on a single by Zobrist to knot the score at 8-8. A savvy fielding play by Pedroia with runners at second and third saved the tie for the Red Sox as the game moved on to the 11th.
Boston finally broke the tie, which featured the appearance of a combined 14 relief pitchers by both teams in the top of the 14th. Shane Victorino lead off with a single, moved to second on a deep fly to right by Pedroia, then watched as David Ortiz was intentionally walked. Jose Iglesias pitch ran for Ortiz and Victorino scored on an RBI single by Daniel Bava, while Iglesias made it 10-8 on another RBI single by Saltalamchia, with his third RBI of the night.
Franklin Morales gave up a single to Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the 14th, but was helped by a nifty double play started by Pedroia to end the inning and the game in a marathon that had Pedroia’s finger prints all over a gutty Red Sox win. Morales picked up the win in relief in a game that featured 32 hits and was the second longest game played in Ray’s history.
Boston’s win improved the Red Sox to 40-25, and improved their road record to 19-11 and record against A.L. East teams to 16-9.
In remaining at 3-5, Lackey hardly tossed a masterpiece, but was good enough escape with a no decision. He went 5-and-two-thirds, gave up 4 runs on 10 hits. Lackey walked one and struck out two in a 93-pitch outing.
Both teams exhausted their bullpens and must hope Tuesday’s starters can go deep in the second game of a three game series.
Clay Buchholz, 9-0 on the year, may be skipped in his next start due to aggravating a neck injury incurred on a field/tag play at first base in his last start. The Red Sox may recall Alfredo Aceves or another pitcher from Pawtucket for a spot start to conclude this series on Wednesday.
As expected, the Red Sox designated utility infielder Pedro Ciricaco for assignment with the activation of Middlebrooks and the decision to keep Jose Iglesias on the major league roster. Manager John Farrell indicated today that he hopes to get Iglesias at least two starts per week in the infield to spell Middlebrooks, Drew and Pedroia to keep everybody fresh.
- Red Sox top Rays in 14 after 2 blown leads (scores.espn.go.com)
- Nava’s 14th-inning single lifts Red Sox over Rays (cnsnews.com)
- Benches Clear Between Red Sox, Rays After John Lackey Hits Matt Joyce (nesn.com)