August 17, 2018

G123: Red Sox 7, Rays 3

Rays    - 300 000 000 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 200 111 20x - 7 11  0
After the Rays scored their third run of the first inning, Brian Johnson retired 15 of the next 16 batters, allowing only four balls to leave the infield. And if his teammates noticed (or gave a damn about) the deficit, they gave no evidence of it.

Xander Bogaerts tripled in two runs in the home half of the first and he doubled and scored the tying run in the fourth. Although Tampa Bay would not be crossing home plate again, the Red Sox kept scoring runs because ... scoring runs is fun.

The Red Sox improved their record to 87-36. That's three more wins than any Red Sox team has ever won through 123 games. Only five teams in major league history have had more wins in their first 123 games: the 1902 Pirates, the 1906 and 1907 Cubs, the 1944 Cardinals, and the 1998 Yankees.

Ian Kinsler was back in the starting lineup, but Rafael Devers returned to the disabled list, for the third time this season, with a left hamstring strain.

When Matt Duffy followed Mallex Smith's single by grounding into a double play, it looked like Johnson (at only five pitches) would have a quick first inning. But he walked Tommy Pham and gave up three straight hits: back-to-back doubles by C.J. Cron and Joey Wendle and a single by Carlos Gomez.

Boston cut that lead to one run against "opener" Ryne Stanek. Andrew Benintendi singled with one out and went to second on a wild pitch. J.D. Martinez walked with two down. Bogaerts capped an eight-pitch at-bat with a drive to left-center. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier seemed to have room to make a catch, but he pulled up short and the ball bounced on the dirt of the warning track for a triple.

Bogaerts led off the fourth against Yonny Chirinois (6-9-5-1-1, 88) with a double and scored on Eduardo Nunez's single. The Red Sox took the lead in the fifth when Mookie Betts doubled and scored on Mitch Moreland's single. It was Betts's 100th run of the season, giving him three seasons of 100+ runs scored before his 26th birthday, something only one other Red Sox player (Ted Williams) has done.

Jackie Bradley's double in the sixth scored Blake Swihart. Moreland doubled with one out in the seventh and scored on Martinez's single. That RBI was JDM's 105th of the season - a new career high. He went to third on Bogaerts's second double of the game and scored on a wild pitch.

After the first inning, Johnson (5.2-5-3-2-2, 94) did not allow a baserunner until he walked Michael Perez in the fifth. He also gave up a double to Wendle with two outs in the sixth. Heath Hembree came in and got the third out.

Kiermaier singled off Ryan Brasier in the seventh but was erased on a K-CS double play. In the eighth, an out call at first was overturned in the Rays' favour and an HBP call was upheld in the Rays' favour. (Numerous super-duper-slo-mo replays convinced me that Duffy was not hit by the ball, not even grazed.) Matt Barnes worked out of that jam, though, with a strikeout, a popup to second and another strikeout. Tyler Thornburg got three groundouts in the ninth.

More than half the Red Sox's hits were for extra bases: 5 singles, 5 doubles, 1 triple.
Ryne Stanek / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF

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