May 12, 2017

G35: Rays 5, Red Sox 4

Rays    - 000 230 000 - 5 11  3
Red Sox - 000 000 400 - 4  5  2
After the Red Sox were silenced by Alex Cobb for six innings - they managed only one single and two walks - they broke through for four runs in the seventh. But they could not do anything more against the Rays bullpen, squandering a prime scoring chance in the eighth before going down quietly in the ninth.

The Rays built a 5-0 lead off Rick Porcello (6-9-5-0-7, 105) in the middle innings. After an infield error (yep, by the third baseman), a single, and a passed ball, Tim Beckham drove in two runs with a two-out single in the fourth. Tampa Bay began the fifth with Derek Norris's single and Corey Dickerson's run-scoring double. One out later, Evan Longoria homered to left.

This was all that Cobb (6.1-4-4-3-5, 107) allowed through the first six innings: Xander Bogaerts's single with two outs in the first, a walk to Bogaerts with one out in the fourth, and a leadoff walk to Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

With one out in the seventh, however, everything changed (thanks in no small part by some sloppy Rays fielding). Chris Young doubled to right. Moreland drew another walk. Josh Rutledge reached on infield single and Young scored on Cobb's throwing error. Sandy Leon followed with a ground-rule double to right, scoring Moreland and Rutledge. After Jose Alvarado relieved Cobb, Rays second baseman Brad Miller made two errors on Jackie Bradley's grounder, allowing Leon to score the fourth run. Erasmo Ramirez came in from the pen with the potential tying run at second and retired Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia.

Ramirez dug a hole for Tampa Bay in the bottom of the eighth when Bogaerts doubled and Benintendi walked. After Young flied out - and Bogaerts took third - Rays manager Kevin Cash called on Danny Farquhar. He struck out Moreland. Then Alex Colome got Rutledge to ground out to third. Colome remained on the mound and retired Leon, Bradley, and Betts in the ninth.

ESPN's Scott Lauber thought that Rutledge's spot in the eighth inning would have been a perfect spot for Hanley Ramirez to pinch-hit, but "manager John Farrell said Ramirez told him Friday morning that he would need at least one more game off after experiencing spasms in his right trapezius muscle Wednesday in Milwaukee".

The Red Sox are 18-17.
Alex Cobb / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Young, DH
Moreland, 1B
Rutledge, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Red Sox Announcement: "Due to sustained periods of rain expected Saturday evening, first pitch of Saturday's Red Sox-Rays game has been rescheduled [from 7:10 PM] to 1:05 PM."

ESPN's Scott Lauber writes about the black hole that is third base:
Through 34 games, the Boston Red Sox already have used six third basemen. And between them, Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez, Steve Selsky, Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero have posted a .574 OPS, dead last in the majors at the position. Worse yet, they have combined for 12 errors, four more than any other team's total at third base.
ESPN's stats actually have Boston's third basemen's combined OPS at .587, still 30th out of 30 teams (also well below the AL average of .752). The Red Sox's third basemen are 28th in on-base percentage (.267), 29th in slugging (.320), and 26th in batting average (.216).

Two words that we may be hearing sooner rather than later: "Rafael Devers". Sox Prospects on Devers, who is 20 years old and currently in Portland (AA):
All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate. Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age, has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments.

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