Red Sox - 010 100 400 - 6 8 0 Rays - 003 000 001 - 4 11 0
It's a good thing we don't actually have robot umpires because Danny Farquhar's 1-2 pitch to Pedroia in that at-bat was in the strike zone and should have been called strike 3, ending the inning. But home plate arbiter Carlos Torres called it ball 2. After fouling a pitch off, Pedroia cracked his four-run dong. Manager John Farrell mixed and matched relievers in the seventh, and Koji Uehara Craig Kimbrel took charge of the final two innings.
The Red Sox scored first in this one, when Brock Holt doubled home Mookie Betts in the second.
Rick Porcello (6.1-8-3-1-9, 116) was hit hard in the early innings. He escaped a jam in the second, when the Rays had runners at second and third and one out, thanks to some marvelous fielding by Pedroia and Holt. Porcello was not so lucky in the third. With two on and two outs, Brad Miller drove both runners in with a double over Jackie Bradley's head in center. Corey Dickerson followed with a single that made it 3-1.
Boston got one of those runs back right away, as Betts walked and stole second and scored on Hanley Ramirez's single. But Holt grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Rays threatened to add to their lead in the sixth. Miller walked and went to third on Nick Franklin's single to center. But Porcello struck out Mikie Mahtook and got a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop from Alexei Ramirez.
Ramirez began the lucky seventh against Ryan Garton by grounding a single to right. Holt lined a single to center and the table was set. Chris Young was out on a dribbler in front of the plate, catcher to first, and the runners advanced to second and third. Lefty Dana Eveland came in to face Bradley and walked him on four pitches, loading the bases. Rays manager Kevin Cash called on Farquhar, who got Sandy Leon to hit a sharp grounder to Longoria at third. He threw home to force Ramirez for the second out; there was no relay throw. Pedroia fell behind 0-2, but battled, fouling off four pitches before finally homering to left.
Porcello was at 104 pitches at that point and when the Red Sox went ahead, it seemed all but certain that his night was over. He now qualified for the "win" and the bullpen could likely handle the three-inning load. But Farrell had him on the mound for the bottom of the seventh. Porcello allowed a single to ninth-place hitter Curt Casali and then struck out Logan Forsythe. With Porcello now at 116 pitches, his second-highest total of the season, Farrell finally pulled him and went to the bullpen. Robbie Scott allowed a single to Kevin Kiermaier, bringing the potential tying run to the plate. Brad Ziegler got Evan Longoria to line out to center and Robbie Ross retired Miller on a fly to Betts on the warning track in right.
Uehara allowed a leadoff double to Dickerson in the eighth. With Franklin batting, Uehara's 0-1 pitch was in the dirt and got away from Leon and rolled a bit towards first base. Dickerson took off for third and was easily gunned down. Franklin flied to right and Mahtook was called out on strikes (although strike three was probably actually ball 4; another gift for the Red Sox).
Kimbrel allowed a solo homer to Forsythe with two outs in the ninth, but he struck out Kiermaier (though it took 10 pitches) to end the game.
Betts had reached base at least three times in five straight games - the Red Sox's record is seven - but that streak came to an end, as he only singled and walked today. (The Red Sox record of consecutive games reaching base at least twice is 23 (!), by Ted Williams in 1957. TSW also holds the second-highest total (21) and the third-highest total (18).)
Betts now has 208 hits. Only eight Red Sox players have had as many or more hits in a season.
Most Hits in Red Sox Season, 1901-2016
YEAR HITS Wade Boggs 1985 240 Tris Speaker 1912 222 Wade Boggs 1988 214 Jim Rice 1978 213 Dustin Pedroia 2008 213 Adrian Gonzalez 2011 213 Jacoby Ellsbury 2011 212 Wade Boggs 1983 210 Nomar Garciaparra 1997 209 Johnny Pesky 1946 208 Mookie Betts 2016 208There are seven games remaining in the regular season for Betts to add to his total.
The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-0 so Boston's magic number is now three. New York has been shutout in three straight games and is 11.5 GB.
Pedroia, 2BMatt Collins at OTM is wondering who will start ALDS Game 1.
Last night's game was only the second time that David Ortiz hit a first-inning home run that accounted for Boston's only runs in a win. The other time was on June 7, 2007, when a solo home run in the first led the Red Sox to a 1-0 win over the A's (Curt Schilling's near no-hitter).
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 4 with 8 games to play. ... Also: Yankees/Blue Jays and Diamondbacks/Orioles.
BOS --- TOR 5.5 BAL 7.0 MFY 10.5