For whatever reason, the Boston Red Sox have not had much luck against the Tampa Bay Rays over the last year or so. Tonight, it looked like it was going that way until another big 6th inning for the Red Sox.
Jason Bay once again worked his magic as he hit a 3-run home run and J.D. Drew hit a 2-run game-winning homer in the decisive 6th inning to help the Red Sox to a 7-3 win over Rays in front of 37,745 fans at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox had lost 5 of their last 6 games against the Rays but with the win over their thorn, they improve to 19-11 on the season in their second straight win. With the loss, the Rays drop to 14-17 and ended a 3-game winning streak which was their longest of the season.
Brad Penny got the start for the Red Sox and didn’t pitch great although he wasn’t completely terrible early. All 3 runs he gave up came in the first 4 innings. He ended up going 6 1/3 innings, allowing the 3 runs on 8 hits and2 walks while striking out 2.
Hideki Okajima came in and worked an inning, walking one and striking out 1. Ramon Ramirez went 2/3 of an inning. Jonathan Papelbon finished it off in the 9th with two strikeouts after giving up a leadoff single.
James Shields had some early success during the game, giving up 5 hits but getting out of any trouble each time. But in the 6th he came unglued when he gave up two home runs, one to Bay and the other to J.D. Drew. Shields ended up going 6 innings, allowing 5 runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out 7 batters. Grant Balfour went the final two innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits.
Every member of the starting nine for the Red Sox had a hit on the night with the exception of David Ortiz. Dustin Pedroia was a hitting machine for the local nine tonight as he went 4-for-5 with an RBI. Mike Lowell had another stellar night at the plate with 3 hits while Bay had 2 hits, including the decisive 3-run homer. Jacoby Ellsbury added 2 hits and an RBI and Drew’s only hit of the night was a 2-run homer.
The Rays wasted no time against Penny tonight.
After B.J. Upton grounded out, Carl Crawford continued his mastery of Penny and the Red Sox with a single, the first of his 3 hits on the evening. With Evan Longoira at the plate, he stole second before Longoria worked walk. Penny got Carlos Peña to strike out but Pat Burrell followed with a single to center to score Crawford to put the Rays up 1-0.
With two outs in the 2nd inning, Jeff Bailey crushed a triple to deep center but was stranded there when Shields got Jason Varitek to ground out to first.
Crawford hit a one-out triple in the 3rd inning and he came around to score on a Longoria sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Burrell flew out to start the 4th and Gabe Gross then singled. He would go to second on an Akinori Iwamura ground out. Gross came around to score on a wall ball double for Jason Bartlett to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
The Red Sox wasted an opportunity in the 4th inning when Bay led off with a single and Lowell followed with a single but was thrown out trying to advance to second as Bay stopped at third. Shields escaped trouble though when Drew lined out to first and Bailey took a called strike three.
Shields wasn’t so fortunate though in the 6th inning.
Pedroia led off with a single and Big Papi worked a walk. Shields then left a nice meatball out over the plate for Bay who crushed it for a 3-run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. Shields knew was gone once it left the bat and may have been rattled as he gave up a double to Lowell. Drew followed that up with a 2-run home run to right that put the Red Sox up 5-2. Shield ended up striking out the side, sandwiched around a Varitek single to finish off his night.
Balfour was on for his second inning of relief in the 8th and had gotten the first two outs before giving up a single to Julio Lugo. Ellsbury knocked in Lugo with a double to left and Pedroia followed with a single to score Ellsbury to provide the Red Sox with the final margin of 7-3.
Just when it looked as though the Rays would beat the Red Sox again, Bay came through like he has all season long for the Red Sox. It’s a contract year for Bay but he’s been the absolute rock of the Red Sox at the plate, especially when they’ve needed a big hit. He just goes about his business and plays the game hard. He’s just the type of player that skipper Terry Francona likes to put in his lineup on a nightly basis.
Let’s hope after this season, we continue to see Bay in a Red Sox uniform.
Jon Lester will look to keep the Red Sox momentum rolling as he’ll be faced by Scott Kazmir. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:40 PM and tomorrow’s game in a national telecast on FOX.
Notes and musings:
Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox 5.8.09 box score
The Red Sox honored Dom DiMaggio, who passed away earlier today, prior to the game tonight with a moment of silence as well as with a banner of “The Teammates” (Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams) hanging on the Green Monster next to the flag pole. Additionally, the number “7” was mowed into the center field grass.
Spectacular defensively, Dom is still one of only 8 American League outfielders ever to tally at least 400 putouts in 4 or more seasons, doing so in 1942; 47-49. His 1948 totals of 503 putouts and 526 total chances stood as A.L. records until 1977.
With the win tonight, Terry Francona ties Bill Carrigan for third all-time in Red Sox history with 489 wins. Next up on the list is Mike Higgins who won 560 games. Joe Cronin tops the list with 1,071 career win. Overall in his career, Francona has won 774 games.