Delmon Young & B.J. Upton

Just one day after clinching a playoff spot, the Red Sox looked to continue their hold on the AL East and the American League leads in their final road game of the regular season. Unfortunately for them that didn’t happen as Delmon Young led the Devil Rays to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox. The loss by the Red Sox and a win by the Yankees today brings the lead back down to 1.5 games in the AL East. The Yanks can cut the lead to one tomorrow or it can go up to two games as the Yanks finish up a series with the Blue Jays while the Sox get a much needed day off.

The Devil Rays kicked off the scoring in the 2nd inning. B.J. Upton led off with a single off of Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield and stole second with Young at the plate. The stolen base was mute as Young smashed a two-run homer to put the D’Rays on top 2-0. Wakefield settled down after the homer to get the next three batters out.

D’Rays starter Edwin Jackson had been almost perfect through the first 2 2/3 innings, only allowing a walk to David Ortiz in the 1st inning. Jacoby Ellsbury kept up his hot hitting at the plate with a single. Ellsbury would steal second but was left stranded there as Alex Cora, subbing in for Dustin Pedroia, to ground out.

Young proved to be a menace in the side of Wakefield in the 4th inning as he laced a one-out double to left field. After Wakefield got Raul Casanova to fly out, Jonny Gomes brought in Young with single to give the D’Rays a 3-0 lead. Gomes was thrown out trying to steal with Joel Guzman at the plate for the third out of the inning.

The Sox were still unable to get anything going off of Jackson to this point. They went quietly in the 4th and 5th innings.

Left at the plate in the 4th, Guzman led off the 5th with a single. He was retired when Josh Wilson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Akinori Iwamura then worked a walk off of Wakefield and stole second with Jorge Velandia at the plate. Iwamura wasn’t at second too long as Velandia brought him home with a single to put the D’Rays up 4-0. Carlos Peña then worked a walk and he and Velandia each moved up a base on a passed ball by Doug Mirabelli with Upton at the plate. Upton would end up walking to load the sacks full of Devil Rays for Young. He didn’t come through though as Wakefield’s final pitch of the day got him swinging for a strikeout.

The visiting nine finally got to Jackson in the 6th inning. Julio Lugo led off with a single and went to second on an Ellsbury walk. Cora then singled to load up the bases for Big Papi. Ortiz drove in a run as he hit an infield single off the foot of Jackson reloading the bases for Lowell. Jackson continued to throw flames as he struck out Mike Lowell. J.D. Drew fell behind 0-2 in the count but battled back to draw a walk driving in the second run of the inning which cut the lead to 4-2. Coco Crisp followed that with a single to drive in Cora and chase Jackson from the game. With the lead sitting at 4-3 in favor of the D’Rays, Jon Switzer came in and got Eric Hinske to hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.

Julian Tavarez came in for Wake to start the 6th and gave up a one out single to Gomes. He would go to third on a Guzman single. Wilson drove in the run as he laid down a safety squeeze down the first base line. Bryan Corey came on for Tavarez and got Iwamura to hit into a force play, retiring Wilson at second. Guzman would make the final out as he got caught up in a rundown between home and third base.

After perfect 7th innings by Devil Rays pitcher Gary Glover and Sox pitcher Corey, Dan Wheeler came on for the D’Rays in the 8th. Cora led off the inning with a home run to cut the lead to 5-4. Wheeler then got Ortiz, Lowell and Drew out all on ground balls to Velandia at second base.

Al Reyes came on for the D’Rays in the 9th and was perfect this time enroute to his 25th save.

The Sox will enjoy a day off tomorrow and then look to continue their run to the AL East title on Tuesday when the Oakland A’s come to Beantown for a 2-game set. Curt Schilling will get the ball on Tuesday night.

Notes and musings:


The entire Devil Rays team spent an hour and half before the game signing autographs.

The Red Sox have now clinched a playoff spot two times at Tropicana Field. The last time was in 2004, the year they won the World Series.

Terry Francona is still being very secretive about the plans for Clay Buchholz.

Still no timetable on Manny or Youk’s return.

The Dropkick Murphy’s stopped by the booth in the 4th inning to promote their new album. They are there to play a gig in the Tampa/St. Pete area.

The appearance by Tavarez was his first since September 12th when he threw 3 innings against the Devil Rays.

The Cleveland Indians clinched the AL Central and become the second team from the AL to make the playoffs. The Angels have clinched the AL West. The Yankees magic number is 2 games to clinch the wild card and the Red Sox magic number is 6 to clinch the AL East