September 18, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman James Loney (22) scores a run in the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
It took more than four hours to get there, but in the end the Sox have taken another win in Tampa, and made the Rays even greater long shots for a playoff appearance.
Everything went according to script when it came to Felix Doubront tonight, or near enough at least. While the middle-inning meltdown came a bit earlier than usual, this time showing up in the third with 40 pitches rather than the fourth with 50, it still looked right. Three straight walks to the 9-1-2 men of the Tampa Bay order set up Ben Zobrist for a two-run single and Evan Longoria for a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 Rays lead.
That Doubront managed to get through the next three innings allowing just a walk is a positive, yes, but on the whole the picture for Doubront isn't much better than usual. He still seems to hit that speed bump in the middle-innings, and with five walks to his name, the three runs against a truly decrepit Tampa Bay lineup.
The good news is that none of that matters when the likewise decrepit Boston lineup manages to put together seven against Jeremy Hellickson and the Tampa Bay bullpen, though. Getting to Hellickson is always a particularly pleasing feat given the massive dichotomy between his ERA and his peripherals, so chasing him with no outs in the fourth and three runs to his name is a feather in the old cap.
The Rays didn't really help themselves out much, either. Three errors marred their defensive performance, including one which allowed the Sox to score the go-ahead run in the sixth when what should have been out number three was skipped wide of Jeff Keppinger at first by Sean Rodriguez.
The hammer blow, ultimately, would come in the seventh, with Cody Ross, James Loney, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Ryan Lavarnway building an offensive attack ending in a two-run double from Lavarnway to make it 7-3. It's a good highlight to a strong night from Lavarnway, who reached base three times.
With the loss, the Rays are 5.5 back in the wild card with two valuable opportunities gone by the wayside. The Sox may not have to do any more to count themselves effective spoilers.