In a game that perfectly illustrated the gut-busting competitiveness of the American League East, Boston notched a 2-1 win over Tampa Wednesday night to clinch the Red Sox third series win in as many attempts in the month of June.
Boston rode a two-run homer by Daniel Nava, a surprisingly strong spot start from Alfredo Aceves, and three innings of shutout relief by the Boston bullpen to push Boston to a season record of 41-26, the second best record in all of baseball behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The win also improved Boston to 7-2 against the Rays this season, and likewise improved Boston’s road record to 20-12 on the year and 17-10 in head-to-head competition against A.L. East foes.
Boston grabbed an early lead in the top of the third when Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a two-out single to left field. Ellsbury added his 29th stolen base to move into scoring position and came home when Daniel Nava tagged Rays starter Chris Archer for a scorching, frozen-rope home run to right field, his 9th of the season to push the Red Sox in front 2-0. His hit proved to be all the offense the Red Sox would need.
Boston’s patience at the plate pushed Archer out of the game after four innings, having thrown 101 pitches to that point. He was relieved by Kyle Farnsworth to start the fifth. Farnsworth hit Mike Napoli with an inside pitch and Napoli wound up stealing second for his first steal of the season, but was stranded when Mike Carp flied to left field for Boston’s third out of the inning.
The Rays finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Evan Longoria stroked a center field home run to close the score to 2-1 Red Sox.
Boston spot starter Alfredo Aceves turned in a gritty effort, going 6 innings, giving up just a single run on four hits, three walks and a pair of strike outs to earn the win and improve to 3-1. Relievers Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey limited the Rays to two hits, no runs and managed to strike out five of eight Rays they faced from the 7th inning to the final out to seal the Boston victory. Bailey picked up the save, his 7th in 9 save situations. The loss dropped the Rays a full five games behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East race.
Ellsbury’s first inning steal marked his 28th on the season, which leads the American League in thefts and added to it with his 29th in the third. His single in the third extended his current hitting streak to 11 games. Pedroia’s third inning infield single extended his on-base streak to 21 straight games. The Red Sox depart Tampa and head up the East Coast Thursday to begin a four game series against another A.L. East rival in hot pursuit of first place, the Baltimore Orioles. Boston sends Felix Doubront at 4-3 to face Orioles’ lefty Kevin Gausman, looking for his first win of the season against three losses.
- Red Sox-Rays Live: Daniel Nava Caps Great At-Bat With Home Run, Sox Lead 2-0 in Third Inning (nesn.com)
- Nava, Red Sox edge Rays to widen AL East lead (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)