Dr. Jekyll meet Mr. Hyde. It looked all game as if the Red Sox might win easy but every time they would pull away a little the Devil Rays would come back and hang around within striking distance. And that would come back to haunt the Boston nine as closer Jonathan Papelbon would blow just his second save of the season. But the Tampa Bay bullpen would implode a few innings later as the Sox came back to win 12-6 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
With one out in the twelfth inning, Mike Lowell would get his fourth hit of the night a single to left, Jason Varitek would follow with his second walk and the Sox were trying to mount a rally against Tampa reliever Brian Stokes. Stokes now couldn’t find home plate as he also walked Coco Crisp to load the bases for Alex Cora. Cora would hit a slow roller to Iwamura and he would come home to force Lowell for the second out. Julio Lugo would get a walk on 3-1 pitch to bring home Varitek and put the Sox back on top 7-6. It was Lugo’s second RBI on the night BOTH coming on bases loaded walks. The Rays would bring in Jae Kuk Ryu (pronounced Jay Cook You) and Kevin Youkilis would cook him with a 3 run double to make it 10-6. David Ortiz would walk and then Manny Ramirez would double to center driving in two more runs to push the lead to 12-6. J.D. Drew would then ground out to second to end the inning but the damage was done.
The reason it got to the twelfth inning was because Delmon Young would lead off the ninth with a broken bat single to center off of Papelbon. It was the 6th time tonight the Rays had their lead off man on. Pap would have to work with the tying run coming to the plate and no one out as he faced Jonny Gomes who would then take Papelbon deep for his second homerun of the night and tie the game at 6-6. It was the 4th HR Papelbon has allowed this year and it was his second blown save on the season. He last blew a save on May 1st against Oakland. Papelbon then came back to get Josh Wilson to foul out, he then got a strikeout of Greg Norton and finished the inning when Josh Paul to would fly out to Crisp and send the game to extra innings.
Tampa Bay would bring in their closer Al Reyes to start the 10th and he would whiff Drew but Lowell would single to left for his third hit of the night. Varitek would strikeout for the second time in the game for the second out and Crisp would fly out to left.
Kyle Snyder pitching in back to back games would come on in the 10th and Akinori Iwamura would greet him with a single to left. Snyder would wild pitch Iwamura to second as Brendan Harris had looked to bunt but he pulled back as the ball scooted away. Harris would strike out, B.J. Upton would fly out, Carlos Pena was intentionally walked and Young would end the threat with a pop out to Lugo.
The Red Sox would threaten in the 11th. With one out Lugo would double off Reyes to leftfield over the head of Gomes, it would be his second curious route of the night on a fly ball that turned into a double. Youkilis would battle to a full count and get a walk to put runners at first and second for Ortiz. Reyes got mad over the ball four call and after a mound conference Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon got into it with home plate umpire Mark Wegner which led to his ejection from the game. Reyes would get a huge strikeout of Ortiz but that would bring Ramirez to the plate with a chance to put the Sox ahead. Ramirez would hit a rocket but it was right at Iwamura for the final out of the inning.
Snyder worked his second inning, and would get the Rays 1-2-3 in the 11th setting the stage for the 12th inning fireworks.
Tampa Bay starter James Shields started the game Saturday night like a ball of fire. He struck out the side in the first inning sending Lugo, Youkilis and Ortiz all back to the bench to pull up some pine.
Then as if he drank something strange between innings he barely escaped with his life in the second. After Ramirez grounded out to short, Drew hit a very catchable ball into the left centerfield gap that was misplayed by Rays left fielder Gomes into a one-out double. Lowell flied out to center and with two out Varitek singled to right to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Crisp then followed up by dropping a surprise bunt down the third base line that hit the bag for a base hit. Shields then let one get away as he plunked Cora with the first pitch to load the bases. Lugo walked on four pitches to bring home Varitek with the second run of the inning and Shields was on the ropes. He managed to escape further damage when he struck out Youkilis for the second time on the evening to end the bases loaded threat.
Meanwhile Boston starter Jon Lester, making just his second major league appearance of the season after returning from cancer, looked really sharp allowing only a first inning lead off single to center by Iwamura. Lester than retired the next 6 Rays-in-a-row.
The Sox added a run in the third off of Shields. Ortiz led off with a double down the rightfield line and beat Young’s throw to second. Ramirez came up and smoked a ball to Iwamura at third, he made a fine diving play to hold Ortiz and throw out Manny. Drew then got his second hit of the night a single to center that scored Ortiz to give the Sox a 3-0 lead. Lowell followed with a single and after a wild pitch with Varitek batting the Sox had runners at second and third with one out but Shields buckled down and struck out Varitek and induced Crisp into a ground out to second to escape any further harm.
In the third inning Lester saw his streak of 8-in-a-row end when with two outs he walked Iwamura. The Rays Japanese import is the only player to have reached base tonight having been on twice so far. Lester than got Harris to pop out to Cora to end the inning and through three he is cruising with a 3-0 lead.
Shields had an odd fourth inning, after two quick outs he thought he had struck Youkilis out for the third time but he had gotten a piece of the ball and Rays catcher Paul didn’t catch it before it hit the dirt. With Youkilis still alive he grounded what appeared to be a sure out to Harris at short who promptly let the ball get under his glove for an error. This brought up Ortiz with two out and with two strikes Youkilis tried to steal second. In an effort to protect him Big Papi swung and his bat broke off in his hands. Paul threw out Youkilis at second and the umpires ruled that Ortiz did not go around as Rays manager Maddon thought he had. So the inning ended with a caught stealing and Ortiz got to lead off the fifth.
The Rays tried to get something started in the fourth against Lester. Upton led off with single to right and was moved to third when Pena hit a high chopper over Youkilis into right for a base hit. Young after fighting off several pitches in a nine pitch at bat brought home the Rays first run with a sacrifice fly to right to score Upton and cut the Sox lead to 3-1. Gomes ended up crushing a ball into left field near the corner that Ramirez a great catch on and he nearly turned it into a double play as the relay throw almost got Pena as he had to hustle back to first. The catch most likely saved a run from scoring. Lester was able to avoid any further damage in the inning by getting Wilson to pop out to Cora.
Newly acquired Grant Balfour came on in the sixth in relief of Shield’s who threw 97 pitches in his 5 innings. In contrast Lester had thrown 78 pitches through his five innings. Balfour is the 41st player the Rays have used this season he is also the third new member of the bullpen in the last week. He gave up a one out walk to Varitek but followed up by getting Crisp to ground into a 4-6-3 inning ending twin killing.
The Rays got a run back in the 6th Harris led off with a ground rule double to leftfield when the ball hopped over the short fence. Harris went to third when Upton flew out to Drew and he would score the Rays second run courtesy of a sacrifice fly when Pena flew out to Ramirez in left to cut the lead to 3-2. Lester would comeback and get his second whiff when he put down Young and ended the uprising.
The Sox would strike right back in the seventh. With one out Lugo got an infield hit and then stole second. Youkilis walked to bring up Ortiz, he singled to center to score Lugo and make it 4-2 Sox. With runners at the corners Ramirez would drive in Youkilis with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2 and give Lester a decent lead.
Gomes would atone for his earlier misplay when he led off the home half of the seventh with his first homerun of the night to leftfield to cut the lead to 5-3. After Wilson flew out and Norton struck out, Paul would hit a solo homerun to right and the lead was down to 5-4. This would bring Terry Francona out to get Lester and bring in Julian Tavares. Tavares would come in and get Iwamura to ground out to Youkilis to end the seventh.
The Sox chipped away for a run in the eighth, on reliever Gary Glover. Lowell led off with a hustle double he earned when Upton didn’t quite play the ball quick enough. That would be an important base as Varitek would single and send Lowell to third. With runners at the corners Crisp would hit a rocket at a drawn in infield and all the Rays would get is a fielders choice at second as Lowell would score to make it 6-4. Cora would fly out and Lugo would strike out to end the inning.
Hideki Okajima worked his usual magic in the eighth after surrendering a lead off single to Harris, he struck out Upton and got Pena to ground into an inning ending double play.
Then Papelbon would be in to work the ninth and what is usually a sure thing was anything but as the broken bat single opened the door for Gomes and his second Hr on the night tying the game.
After the Sox broke it open in the top of the 12th inning, Javier Lopez would come in to pitch the bottom of the 12th. He would get Paul to fly out to right, Iwamura would ground out to second. Harris would keep the Rays alive with a single to center. Upton would then fly out to Drew to end the game.
Snyder gets the win he is 2-2, Stokes takes the loss he drops to 2-7.
Notes and Musings:
Tonight was “Flower Power Night” as the Rays turned back the clock to the 1960’s. The first 10,000 fans wearing Rays gear received a tie-dye t-shirt. After the game Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night performed.
Tonight was also the Carl Crawford Poster giveaway night and former Red Sox All-Star shortstop Rico Petrocelli is at the Ted Williams Museum at Tropicana Field signing autographs during the entire three game series.
Tomorrow at the Trop: Episode 3 of “Defenders of the Game” will debut.
In episode 2, our heroes discovered a secret tunnel beyond the outfield walls of Tropicana Field, where they learned that Don Zimmer is the guardian of baseball who protects all that is good about the game. Now I know why Wally looks like Zimmer. He is Zim’s ‘love child’ from the days when he would sneak out to the Green Monster to make mad passionate love to Jean Yawkey.
Rays 1B Carlos Pena is 3rd in the AL with 24 HRs. The Boston native’s career high is 27 set in 2004 with the Tigers. He is 7 shy of the Tampa Bay franchise record of 34.
Dustin Pedroia missed his second game with a sore rib cage. He expects to play Sunday.
Lester did not record any ground ball outs. 17 fly outs and 3 strikeouts.
Crisp’s bunt single in the second inning was his fifth of the season.
Lugo’s infield hit in the 7th inning was his 18th of the year. He also had his 13th two-hit and 21st multi-hit game of the year.
Drew had his 14th two-hit and 18th multi-hit game of the year.
Ortiz had his 23rd two-hit and 32nd multi-hit game of the year.
Lowell had his 2nd four-hit and 28th multi-hit game of the year.
Varitek had his 14th two-hit and 18th multi-hit game of the year.
Coming into tonight’s game the Sox have the majors lowest bullpen ERA at 2.65.
Red Sox lead the all-time series vs. the Rays, 103-53. They are 46-32 at the Trop.
Manny Ramirez’ 24 career HRs at the Trop are the most by any non-Rays player. He is 6th on the HR list at the Trop.
NESN’s Jerry Remy was having breakfast with his parents today and Manny stopped by the table to say hi and reiterate that he wants to work for NESN. We don’t know what he wants to do for them but he wants to work there.
Tonight’s game was a sellout, only the sixth in Devil Rays history.
The Red Sox meanwhile have 359 sellouts-in-a-row at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox have a league best five .300 hitters: Ortiz .320, Pedroia .315, Youkilis .306, Lowell and Ramirez both at .305.
Ty Wiggington was pulled from the Rays starting line up about 30 minutes before game time. Wiggington was traded to Houston for reliever Dan Wheeler.
After letting up 4 runs last night the Rays sent reliever Shawn Camp to Triple A Durham today. Camp had led the team in appearances making his 49th of the season last night.