This was an exhausting game. It seemed like another rough (relative to his expectations, at the very least) day for Chris Sale would be the story, but then the Red Sox rallied late and madness ensued to create yet another marathon game for this team. They are addicted.
Things got off to a good start for the Red Sox against Andriese, as they got some early offense rolling. The rally didn’t start in the most encouraging way, as Xander Bogaerts was hit in the elbow with a pitch and looked hurt. He did stay in the game, though, and would move over to second on a ground ball before being knocked in by an RBI single from Andrew Benintendi. With Sale on the mound, the early 1-0 lead seemed like a very, very good thing. They failed to get any more, though, partially due to Benintendi getting caught stealing in the next at bat to clear the bases and put a second out on the board.
The Red Sox ace didn’t have it in the bottom half of the first, though, and got into some serious trouble. It was clear the Rays were ready to be super aggressive against the southpaw in this game, and it worked in this inning. Kevin Kiermaier started things with a single, and after a groundout moved him to second he’d score on an RBI single from Evan Longoria. Sale would then walk the next two batters he faced — including one on four pitches — to load the bases with just one out. Fortunately, he was able to induce a ground ball to force an inning-ending double play and keep the game tied at one.
At this point, the pitchers would settle in for a few innings. Sale in particular really recovered from that rough first inning, retiring the next six batters he faced with five of those outs coming by way of the K. Andriese, meanwhile, allowed only one single over the next two innings.
That brought us to the top of the fourth with the score still tied at one. After two quick outs to start the inning, the Red Sox retook the lead on one swing of the bat from Mitch Moreland. The first baseman got a hanging curveball up and on the outer half of the plate and he launched it out to left-center field for a solo home run. Just like that, the Red Sox had a 2-1 lead. Once again, though, Sale couldn’t hold on to the lead. This time, he led off the inning with another walk, and then two batters later he left a fastball over the heart of the plate to Wilson Ramos who hit a two-run, go-ahead home run to give the Rays a 3-2 lead.
After this, it was a story of frustration for the Red Sox. In the fifth inning, the Red Sox got a couple of one-out singles from the bottom of the order, putting runners on the corners with just the one away for Bogaerts. The Rays called upon their bullpen early at this point, and it worked. Bogaerts popped out against the slider-happy Sergio Romo and Dustin Pedroia flew out to end the inning. In the sixth, they’d once again get two on. This time, there was two outs and with a lefty in to face Brock Holt, John Farrell went to his bench and called upon Sam Travis as a pinch hitter. This, predictably, led the Rays to go to a righty, but rather than sticking with Travis Farrell opted to call upon Tzu-Wei Lin. It was a strange decision, to put it kindly, and it ended with a three-pitch strikeout to strand the runners.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sale came back out and had another rough inning. This time, he got a strikeout to start things off before letting a slider catch too much of the plate against Adeiny Hechavarria. The Rays shortstop hit it way out to left field and gave the Rays a 4-2 lead. After another strikeout, Sale allowed a triple and was done for the night. It was a lackluster start to be sure, and he apparently had some words for Farrell on the mound. Austin Maddox would come in with the runner on third and get an inning-ending flyout to keep the deficit at two.
After the Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the seventh, Maddox came back out for the bottom half and kept the Rays off the scoreboard. Matt Barnes came on for the eighth, and in between recording two outs he allowed Ramos to hit his second homer of the game to give Tampa a 5-2 lead. Fernando Abad would come in to finish the eighth.
In the ninth, things finally took a turn for the Red Sox offense against Rays closer Alex Colomé. The rally started with a walk from Moreland, who would move to second on a wild pitch. Rafael Devers came up next and hit a groundball to second, but Danny Espinosa made a bad error to allow the ball to get into right field. That scored a run and put Devers at second base. Christian Vazquez followed that up with a pinch-hit single, and Sandy Leon then came through with a single of his own to bring Boston to within one with nobody out. That brought Jackie Bradley up, and he launched a ball to deep left-center field, but Kiermaier ranged all the way to the track to make an absurd diving catch and rob an extra-base hit. Bogaerts would come through after that, though, and tie the game on a single. That was the end of the rally, but it forced a bottom of the ninth that many didn’t see coming.
That bottom half got off to a disconcerting start, with Craig Kimbrel walking the first batter he faced on four pitches. That would be Kiermaier, and he’d challenge Blake Swihart — who was behind home plate after Leon and Vazquez were both taken out of the game — by stealing second. Kimbrel came back and got three straight strikeouts to end the inning, though.
Moving on to the tenth inning, the Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the top half. The first out was yet another fantastic catch by Kiemaier to likely rob extra bases. In the bottom half, Addison Reed came in and allowed a single after a quick first out. A groundout moved pinch runner Mallex Smith to second base with two outs. After Corey Dickerson was intentionally walked, Brad Miller came up with a chance to win the game with a base hit. He couldn’t get it, though, as Reed got a huge strikeout to escape the jam.
The top half of the eleventh inning got a little nutty. It started with an infield double when Deven Marrero’s ball deflected off the pitcher and found no-man’s land on the right side of the infield. Swihart would come up next and drop a beautiful bunt for a base hit to put runners on the corners. That brought Bradly up, and he hit a ground ball to shortstop on which Marrero was off on contact. Hechavarria threw it home, and Marrero was caught between third and home. The umps originally declared that he avoided the tag, but a replay review showed that he was indeed out. Swihart did move over to third, putting runners on the corners with one down. An intentional walk then loaded the bases for Pedroia, who ripped a liner towards shortstop but Hechavarria made a great leaping grab to save at least one run. Benintendi came up next, and after a long at bat he couldn’t come through and ended the inning with a lazy flyball and the score still tied.
After Joe Kelly came through with a quick 1-2-3 11th, the Red Sox put together another frustrating frame in the 12th. This one started with a double from Betts, who was moved over to third on a groundout. The Rays then intentionally walked Devers to put runners on the corners with just one out. Unfortunately, Marrero and Swihart were the next two batters to come up and they both struck out in ugly at bats to end the threat with the score still tied.
Finally, we fast-forward to the 14th after Kelly just finished his third consecutive 1-2-3 inning in what was a massive performance out of the bullpen for the Red Sox. Betts came in to lead off the 14th for Boston and he ripped a single to kick things off. Moreland followed that up with a single of his own to put two on with nobody out. The Red Sox wouldn’t spoil this chance, as Devers hit a third consecutive single to knock in Betts and give Boston a 6-5 lead. It wasn’t all good, though, as Moreland got himself thrown out at third base on the play, with Devers moving on up to second.
So, with the lead, it was up to Brandon Workman to lock things up in the bottom of the 14th. He...did not do that. Instead, he allowed a leadoff home run to Kiermaier and in the blink of an eye the game was tied up again. Workman would allow the winning run to get to second before getting out of the jam with the score now tied at six.
On to the 15th we went, and the Red Sox once again got a rally going. This time, it started with a Bradley walk and a Bogaerts single to put two on with no out. Pedroia followed that up with what looked like a double play ball, but it was booted by Miller at second base and the ball deflected into the outfield, allowing Bogaerts to score and putting runners on the corners with no outs. The Red Sox made sure not to repeat the events of the previous inning and tacked on a whopping seven runs to go up 13-6. Blaine Boyer came in for the ninth and did not blow the lead, giving Boston the win. Finally.
As painful as this was to watch at times, this was a huge victory for the Red Sox. The win prevented the Yankees from coming within two games of the division lead for the first time since early August and pushed Boston’s magic number down the 13. Now, go to bed and we’ll see you for Saturday’s game.