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Red Sox 2, Rays 0: The most surprising win of the season

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Rich Hill and the bullpen in need of thirteen scoreless innings? How on Earth did Boston win?

Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

With Rich Hill on the mound for a spot start, the Red Sox were probably steeling themselves for a bit of an unfortunate game.

13 innings later, the Red Sox finally scored the first two runs of the game to take a series win over the Rays.

Who saw this coming? Not even Rich Hill's mother, probably. But sure enough...this is what we got. How excellent was Rich Hill today? In the fourth inning, the Rays managed a milestone: their first ball out of the infield! For an out! By that point, they had already produced four strikeouts, with only a walk, a hit batter, and an infield single to their names.

Good news for the Rays: Drew Smyly was on a similar role. Only...flashier. He had topped Hill's strikeout total with six through the first three, striking out the side in the first around a single from Xander Bogaerts. The Sox had managed to put runners on second and third with two down in the third, but a ground ball from Travis Shaw put an end to that.

Smyly's ridiculous strikeout run continued, until he finished with 11. But he also finished in six innings, with all the pitches it required. Hill, on the other hand, managed to last through the seventh, despite this being his first major league start with 2009. Seven innings of one-hit baseball, one walk, ten strikeouts.

But of course, with Smyly doing his thing, that just left the Red Sox in a 0-0 tie. And facing what had become a battle of the bullpens. This, for those familiar with Boston's bunch, is not a good thing. Somehow, though, this time it worked out, and very well. Jean Machi handled the first four outs,  and Noe Ramirez got them into extra innings. There things got a little hairier, with walks from both Ramirez and his replacement, Tommy Layne, giving Joey Butler a chance to put runs on the board. But Layne came through with a full-count strikeout to send it to the eleventh.

For the Red Sox, there wasn't much better happening. Mookie Betts' eighth-inning leadoff single was erased by a double play, and the Sox managed to waste Marrero's in the tenth as well. Rusney Castillo set up Allen Craig for an opportunity in the eleventh with a two-out double, but Craig struck out, and the Sox went quietly in the twelfth.

The bottom of said inning saw Tampa Bay's biggest opportunity, with Steven Souza Jr. hitting a one-out double off Heath Hembree. Torey Lovullo decided to call for the intentional walk of John Jaso, though, and it paid off when James Loney grounded into a double play to send the game to the 13th. And there, finally, the Sox broke through. Singles from Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Travis Shaw off of Enny Romero, trying to produce his second scoreless inning, set up Rusney Castillo with a golden opportunity. Finally given the opportunity to drive some runs in--he was one of two Red Sox with no men left on base to that point--Castillo produced, hitting a sharp single into left field to score both Pedroia and Bogaerts, putting the Sox ahead 2-0. Robbie Ross Jr. was thankfully able to keep the drama fairly low, allowing just a single to Grady Sizemore as he closed out the 2-0 win.