August 24, 2016

G126: Rays 4, Red Sox 3 (11)

Red Sox - 201 000 000 00 - 3  9  1
Rays    - 002 000 010 01 - 4 12  0
Heath Hembree's fielding error on what should have been the final out of the eleventh inning allowed Luke Maile to score the winning run from second base. Tampa Bay had runners at first and second and two outs when Kevin Kiermaier chopped the ball to Travis Shaw at first base. Shaw underhanded the ball to Hembree, but the pitcher dropped it. He recovered quickly, however, and fired the ball home. It was a low throw, but it seemed to be in time and home plate umpire Ryan Blakney started to make the "out" sign. He changed that to "safe" when he saw that catcher Sandy Leon had not been able to hang onto the ball.

Rick Porcello (7.2-9-3-0-8, a career-high 123 pitches) could not hold a 3-0 lead. The Rays' win came after the Red Sox bullpen escaped several late-inning jams, as Brad Ziegler left the bases loaded in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel struck out two batters in the ninth with the potential winning run at second. Unfortunately, the Boston bats went AWOL after the seventh inning. The Red Sox were retired in order in the eighth, ninth, and tenth innings, and managed only a one-out walk in the eleventh.

David Ortiz came into the game batting .542 on the first pitch this season - and he improved on that by launching a first-pitch two-run home run off Matt Andriese (6-7-3-1-8, 92) in the first inning. Dustin Pedroia had begun the game with a single and stolen second base. In the third, Pedroia walked and stole second and scored on Mookie Betts's single.

Porcello, who had left baserunners at second and third in the second, was not so fortunate in the third. Two singles put Rays on first and second with one out. Porcello struck out Evan Longoria and went to 0-2 on Brad Miller. But Miller worked the count full and ripped a double down the right field line that brought in both runners.

Porcello also escaped a jam in the fourth. With runners at second and third and two outs, Logan Forsythe grounded to the left side. Third baseman Brock Holt ranged to his left, speared the ball, spun around, and fire to first in time to end the inning. That must have inspired Porcello because he set down the Rays in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Also, he was at 80 pitches through four innings and he suddenly got economical, throwing only 25 pitches over the next three frames.

Porcello got the first out in the eighth, but gave up an estimated 440-foot home run to Longoria that tied the game. Miller followed with a blast to deep right that Betts caught with his back against the wall. After Matt Duffy singled, manager John Farrell went to the pen. Robbie Ross walked Logan Morrison. Ziegler gave up an infield single to load the bases, but struck out Corey Dickerson to end the threat.

In the eleventh, Hembree - who had pitched a perfect tenth - retired the first two Rays on outfield flies. But Maile doubled into the right field corner and Forsythe walked on five pitches. Then Kiermaier chopped a 1-1 pitch to Shaw.

Also: Home plate umpire Blakney's poor ball-strike calls took the Red Sox out of a potential scoring opportunity in the sixth. Ortiz singled and two outs later Leon doubled. Brock Holt took an outside pitch on a 3-1 count that should have been ball four (and loaded the bases). Instead Blakney miscalled the pitch a strike, and Holt swung and missed the next one, ending the inning.

And: Andrew Benintendi sprained his left knee in the seventh inning. He had doubled and was caught off the base when Pedroia grounded right at Duffy, Tampa Bay's shortstop. Duffy had no trouble tagging Benintendi and throwing to first for a double play, but Benintendi, in trying to avoid the tag, stumbled and twisted his knee (and ankle). He was helped off the field and replaced by Chris Young.
Rick Porcello / Matt Andriese

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