Sunday, April 15, 2012
Red Sox Win Their Third Straight Vs. The Rays
Not that I'm complaining as Boston beat Tampa Bay for the third straight game, 6-4 this afternoon at a summer-like Fenway Park. The Red Sox (4-5, 3-0 home) will look for the rare four-game sweep on Marathon Monday while the Rays (4-5, 1-5 away) try to leave town with some dignity.
The Red Sox failed to score double-digit runs for the first time this weekend but they used some timely hitting and a lockdown bullpen to get the job done just the same.
Felix Doubront got a no-decision which is what he deserved. He cruised through four scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the fifth and a solo homer in the sixth before he was done. In 5+ innings, he allowed four runs (all earned) on nine hits with seven strikeouts and a walk.
Tampa Bay used a young lefty of its own, Matt Moore (0-1), and he was even less effective. He saved the bullpen by laboring through 109 pitches in 6.1 innings but Boston tagged him for six runs (all earned) on eight hits with five strikeouts, four walks and two home runs allowed.
The Rays outhit the Red Sox 13-8 but Tampa Bay struggled with runners in scoring position (3 for 14) which will happen when Jeff Keppinger is your cleanup hitter (for a day at least).
For once, Boston scored first as Cody Ross crushed a three-run homer in the second over the Monster. His second of the season (and in as many days), it scored Kevin Youkilis (2 runs) and David Ortiz (3 hits, 2 runs, RBI). Former Ray Kelly Shoppach continued his tear against his old team, he had an RBI double in the fourth which made it 4-0. Ortiz scored on the play and Ross was tagged out at home after he should have been out at third except Evan Longoria dropped the ball.
Tampa Bay might have a top heavy and mediocre lineup without B.J. Upton (can't believe I'm writing that) but they still have as much fight in them as any team in MLB. That's what makes them the Rays. They put up three runs in the fifth on Carlos Pena's two-run double and Longoria's ground rule RBI double. Luke Scott's solo home run to right in the sixth tied it at four.
Ortiz hasn't been this hot in years, at least before the middle of the summer, but he delivered an RBI double in the sixth which scored Youk. New leadoff hitter Mike Aviles homered for the second straight game, his second of the season, a solo shot in the seventh just over the wall in center.
After Scott Atchison struggled to get one out after relieving Doubront, the Red Sox bullpen really turned it up. Vicente Padilla (1-0) had his second outstanding outing in a row. He went 1.2 innings, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts and no walks. Franklin Morales got to be the setup guy in the eighth and he recorded his second hold despite giving up two hits.
Alfredo Aceves notched his second save on his third consecutive 1-2-3 appearance. He had a strikeout and even saw his ERA go under 10 (it's now 9.00).
Boston will look for the sweep tomorrow morning (11:05 a.m., NESN) and it will be the toughest matchup on paper: Daniel Bard (0-1) makes his Fenway debut as a starter against James Shields (1-0). If the Red Sox win that one, I'll really be impressed. Shields had a career-year last season and he is Tampa Bay's ace these days.