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Red Sox 4, Rays 3: The bullpen saves the day

Andrew Benintendi went 3-4, and Craig Kimbrel was dynamite.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
He was the good kind of scary today.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox came into today’s morning Patriots’ Day game looking to earn their first three-game winning streak of the year. On a special day in some (better) parts of New England, the Sox came through, beating the Rays 4-3 to wrap up a four-game series.

It didn’t look good to start, as the trouble began before the Red Sox came to bat. Steven Wright was coming off a disastrous performance in which he gave up 6 first inning runs to Baltimore, and while he wasn’t that bad, he wasn’t good, either. He gave up 2 runs, one earned, though Marco Hernandez’s fielding error was hardly an excuse for Wright, who was awful through the second inning but managed to settle down somewhat after that.

He did it just as the Red Sox offense picked up. They got one back in the first inning on a nice Hanley Ramirez dump single to right-center, scoring Dustin Pedroia, and they got the lead in a huge second inning thanks to a two-out rally that came out of nowhere and simply refused to die. Mitch Moreland and Chris Young struck out to open the inning, but Sandy Leon golfed a slicing line drive to center for a single to keep things alive. When Marco Hernandez hit a routine ground ball to shortstop it looked like the Sox were toast, but Brad Miller flat-out dropped the throw at second. After Pedroia walked with a full count, the bases were loaded for Andrew Benintendi, who didn’t disappoint, because he is the best.

Bennie lined a single to center, scoring two, and Mookie Betts followed up with a solid single to left, giving the Sox three runs in the inning and four overall. It was all they would need, and that’s thanks largely to the efforts of the bullpen, which were spectacular. The Sox faced a bases-loaded situation in the 7th after Wright’s departure and a freakish wind-aided single, but Robbie Ross Jr. struck out two and Ben Taylor got Logan Morrison to fly out to Betts, limiting the damage to one run and, at 4-3, keeping the lead intact.

There was some on-field excitement later in the game after a Betts eighth-inning double (that went nowhere), and off-field excitement as well, as the right-field fans were giving the Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. some good-natured crap for popping a green balloon on the field, and doing so loudly enough that the TV announcers said the atmosphere had become akin to an English Premier League game, not leastwise because he was giving the crap right back to them.

These were rollicking good times, see, and they ended as such after Craig Kimbrel struck out all three men he faced on his way to a well-deserved Goose Egg, on the first day of its existence. (If you’re still using literally yesterday’s stats, like saves, Kimbrel hasn’t blown one since last June 4.) Benintendi went 3-4, Betts 2-4, and Heath Hembree pitched a scoreless eighth inning with 2 strikeouts. The Sox won three of four versus Tampa Bay, and begin a three-game series in Toronto tomorrow night, with Brian Johnson to get the start in place of Eduardo Rodriguez, who’s on paternity leave.

It’s a good day, and there’s plenty of it left. Enjoy it. I know I will.