The starter left early, the bullpen was inconsistent, and the offense was mostly listless. Happy Mother’s Day!
Mother’s Day was a rough one for Drew Pomeranz, who ended up having to leave the game after just three innings of work with left triceps tightness. Even before that, the lefty wasn’t very sharp. (In hindsight, the injury at least partially explains that.) The results weren’t all that bad for the Red Sox starter, as he only allowed two runs in those three innings, but it felt like Tampa Bay should have been able to do more damage.
The first inning started with a quick flyout, but then a triple and a sacrifice fly put the Rays ahead by one just three outs into the game. The triple came courtesy of Corey Dickerson — a lefty who has shown big platoon splits throughout his career, but has avoided a continuation of that trend so far this year -- and was the result of a horrible curveball that broke right down the heart of the plate. Pomeranz would allow just a single before exiting the inning, but even that could have been worse. Logan Morrison smashed a grounder up the middle for a single, but he got a fastball down the heart of the plate. If he had been able to get some lift, it would have done some damage.
In the second inning, Pomeranz started to lose all sense of control and he walked the first two batters of the frame. It goes without saying that this rarely ends well. Kevin Kiermaier gave the Red Sox an out with a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners to scoring position, and Brad Miller would score on a sacrifice fly from Jesus Sucre. This fly ball was another instance of luck for Pomeranz, as he made another mistake that a better hitter would have absolutely punished. After that at bat, he looked a little better. He got a strikeout to end the second and recorded two more in a scoreless third.
Ben Taylor came on in the fourth inning for the Red Sox, and he’d allow Tampa’s third run, although it wasn’t really his fault. After getting a quick first out, he’d give up what the box score will say was a ground rule double to Kiermaier. While technically true, it was actually a pop up down the left field line that any of Deven Marrero, Bogaerts or Andrew Benintendi could have caught on a normal day. Instead, it dropped between the three of them and bounced into the seats. It was an ugly play that wound up being costly when Sucre knocked Kiermaier in with a single high off the Monster. To be fair to the defense, however, the wind played havoc with players all day. Early in the game, Sucre butchered a routine pop up behind home plate and outfielders were misplaying balls left and right due to balls simply gliding in the breeze.
As for the offense, well, it continued to be consistently inconsistent. They did get on the board early in this one, thanks to a combination of Mookie Betts’ base running and Xander Bogaerts’ hitting. The former drew a leadoff walk, then stole second base before moving to third on a ground ball to shortstop. The last part of that was a good read on a slow chopper. From there, Bogaerts hit a strong double to the left field corner to knock in the run and tie the game at one.
From there, Rays starter Matt Andriese settled into a little bit of a groove. The righty works at a snail’s pace, and he doesn’t have stuff that looks like it should shut down any lineup. To be fair to the Red Sox offense, though, he did command his pitches well for the most part in this one. That, combined with a little bit of bad hitting and a pinch of cold, gross weather, led to a slow stretch for Boston’s lineup. Over the next three innings, the Red Sox would get just one more base runner, and that came in the form of a walk to Dustin Pedroia.
As we headed into the bottom half of the fifth, the score remained 3-2 thanks to a mostly solid performance from Taylor, and the Red Sox were looking to get on the board. Christian Vazquez led things off with a single and made it over to third after a ground rule double from Deven Marrero. When Betts hit a grounder to third, Vazquez and the Red Sox apparently had the contact play on and the catcher was easily thrown out at the plate. That proved to be a costly decision, as Pedroia came through with an RBI single to give the Red Sox their second run. Had Vazquez stayed home on the grounder, the hit would have tied the game. (Yes, I know, Pedroia may not hit the single blah blah blah.) A Xander Bogaerts walk would load the bases for Benintendi, but the rookie hit a hard liner right at Kiermaier in center field to end the inning.
The Red Sox mounted another little rally in the sixth after Fernando Abad and Matt Barnes shut down the Rays in the top half of the inning, with Hanley Ramirez reaching on an error and Mitch Moreland walking to start the inning. The former would move over to third on a fly ball, but was stranded there after two strikeouts.
The offense couldn’t get anything going from there, and the bullpen totally imploded in the ninth to give the Rays seven in the inning and eleven for the game. Bleh.
It was a long, frustrating game to cap off a frustrating series. The Red Sox will have a day off on Monday to think about what they’ve done.