The Rays took the early advantage on a pair of solo shots, but a five-run rally in the fourth inning has them on top 5-2 nearly halfway through Game 1 of the ALDS.
While Jon Lester could blame the bad call of Chris Guccione for giving Sean Rodriguez a chance to bring in the first run of the game on a solo shot, he had nobody to blame but himself for the Ben Zobrist bomb that made it 2-0 in the top of the fourth. Perhaps rattled by the first homer, Lester started to struggle with his control in the third, but still managed to get through the frame 1-2-3 with a couple of long fly balls. The Rays didn't allow him to get away with it in the fourth, however, with Zobrist jumping on a high fastball for his shot.
The Rays would pick up two more baserunners off Lester in the fourth, but a diving play by Will Middlebrooks put a stop to things and gave the Red Sox a chance to get back in it in the bottom half of the inning. And boy, did they ever--with a little help from the Rays.
Dustin Pedroia's leadoff single--the first hit of the game off of Matt Moore--was entirely Pedroia. A nice bit of hitting to put a ground ball right back up the middle for a base hit. And after falling behind David Ortiz, 2-0, it looked like Moore had given up the lead by giving him a third pitch to hit. His long fly ball didn't quite have enough, though, allowing Wil Myers to get underneath it and...
The ball bounced up into the pen, putting men on second and third for the Red Sox. And while Mike Napoli wasn't able to get the job done, Jonny Gomes was, launching a high fly ball to left-center that just missed leaving the park, instead grabbing some wall and bringing the tying runs in to score.
Then the defense struck again, combining with some serious Red Sox hustle to put the Red Sox ahead. After a strikeout from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew hit a ground ball to the right side, beating Matt Moore to the plate by a split second while Jonny Gomes made the heads-up play, racing all the way home from second to score on the infield single. Will Middlebrooks followed up with a rocket to the wall which, when misplayed by Sean Rodriguez, allowed Drew to score all the way from first.
Finally, the difference between 4-2 and 5-2? Another defensive gaffe. Jacoby Ellsbury swung through strike three, but Jose Lobaton didn't make the grab, letting Ellsbury head to first, bringing Will Middlebrooks to third and Shane Victorino up to bat. He made good on the opportunity by shooting a very high fastball into right field, bringing home the fifth run of the inning. An inning that started with the Red Sox sitting on zero hits.
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