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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Once, The Rays Don't Look Like Much of a Threat in the AL East

Due to major injuries to starting pitchers Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the Rays are a bit of a mess at the moment. Since manager Joe Maddon took over in Tampa Bay (11-16 overall, 4-9 away) I have always been in awe of what they can do with tight pockets and few fans. Honestly, I have feared the Rays more than the Yankees in recent history since they usually seem to give the Red Sox fits.

However, this season could be a bit of a trip back to their shitty Devil Rays past as Boston (13-14 overall, 6-8 home) beat them 7-4 tonight at Fenway Park in their first (of 19) meeting of the season. John Lackey (4-2) had his second straight really good outing that lasted eight innings (2 earned runs, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk). It was actually 7-2 in the ninth before the Rays scored two runs on an infield single by Yunel Escobar and throwing error by Xander Bogaerts.

With one runner on base, Red Sox manager John Farrell made the curious decision to put in closer Koji Uehara. Still, he struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches to end it for his sixth save of the season. Other than Lackey, Shane Victorino (4 for 4, double, 2 RBIs) was the main attraction. We know that he can't do it for a full season anymore but he is certainly valuable when Boston can get him on the field.

Former Red Sox great Erik Bedard got the start and actually only allowed one run but in typical fashion he threw way too many pitches (104) in just five innings. That meant that Boston did their damage vs. Tampa Bay's crappy middle relievers. Victorino had driven in Boston's first run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly which is what Evan Longoria answered with in the next frame. For once, the Red Sox hung a crooked number (5) on the scoreboard in the sixth. A.J. Pierzynski (2 for 4, run) started it with an RBI single then Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Victorino knocked in a combined four runs with doubles.

Andover's Ryan Hanigan cut it to 6-2 in the seventh with an RBI single but David Ortiz regained the five-run advantage with an RBI single in the eighth. Tomorrow (7:10, NESN) is the sixth time that Boston can get back to the .500 mark in April (they've failed the previous five occasions) as Felix Doubront (1-3) fights for his job against Chris Archer (2-1). There are three Game 7s in the NHL tomorrow night so if you can focus primarily on this contest then you are a very sick person.





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