The struggling Red Sox went into Tampa Bay to play the red-hot Rays and completed a sweep on Sunday afternoon, just as we all expected. This one was far from easy, with David Price grinding through five innings with spotty command and the offense struggling to get a ton going throughout this game. However, the bullpen (Marcus Walden in particular) was outstanding outside of another blown save for Matt Barnes — his second in as many days — and the lineup did come through when it counted. It took eleven innings but you don’t get style points in the standings, and the Red Sox did everything they had to and more this weekend.
While the Red Sox rotation as a whole ranged anywhere from terrible to oh-my-god-my-eyes-are-bleeding bad their first couple turns through the rotation, David Price managed to be something close to mediocre. In comparison, he looked like a Cy Young frontrunner. As the rest of that group has started to trend upwards, Price has done the same and his last time out against the Orioles was phenomenal. He tossed seven scoreless innings while racking up seven strikeouts and not issuing a single walk. Obviously the competition wasn’t quite as tough as it gets in this league, but he looked filthy all night.
On Sunday, he was looking to carry that success down to his former stomping grounds in Tampa Bay as his team looked for a big sweep agains the division leaders. Price wasn’t his same self, which isn’t to say he was terrible or anything, just not as impressive. On the plus side, his fastball looked as good as it has in some time, with the velocity consistently sitting in the 93 mph range. More importantly, he was getting a ton of swings and misses on the pitch. Unfortunately, Price also struggled mightily with his command all night, leading to a few walks and a lot of long at bats.
That trouble started right away in the first, two, when the southpaw walked two of the first three batters he faced. He also struck out a batter in the middle, but he had already thrown 18 pitches at that point. Fortunately, he got a big double play after that. Of note was that Michael Chavis was the pivot man on the play, smoothly making the turn after a feed from Rafael Devers.
After Price got a 1-2-3 second that included a pair of strikeouts, the lefty was in some trouble in the third. This time it was Willy Adames starting the rally when he poked a soft line drive in from of Mookie Betts in right field for a single. After another base hit, the Rays had two on with nobody out. Price did come back with two straight strikeouts and looked like he might get out of it, but then a missed location proved costly. He got to a full count against Daniel Robertson, but then threw a fastball right down the heart of the plate that the Rays infielder shot into the right-center field gap for a double. Both runners would come in to score, and Tampa Bay was on the board.
Price came back out for two more innings, and while he labored some more during this stretch he kept the Rays from adding to their total any more. By the end of his outing, the southpaw had thrown five innings in which he allowed just the two runs on five hits and two walks with ten strikeouts.
With the Rays plating two, the Red Sox offense didn’t need to do a ton to get a lead, but they had their work cut out for them going up against Tyler Glasnow, one of the hottest and most impressive pitchers in the game to start this 2019 season. The former Pirates prospect was showing off his fastball early and often here, attacking Boston hitters with upper-90s stuff high in the zone. The Red Sox did give themselves a chance in the first, though, when Betts drew a walk and moved to second on a ground out. It looked like J.D. Martinez had knocked him in with a ground ball to the left side, but Adames made a big diving stop to save a run. Boston ended up with two runners in scoring position in the inning, but they were kept off the board.
The second brought yet another chance when Devers started the inning by working his way on with a free pass. He’d get to second on a stolen base, too, but he was quickly picked off when he broke too early for third. Glasnow only had to see three batters in the inning.
After a 1-2-3 third, the Red Sox finally broke through a bit in the fourth. Mitch Moreland led off the inning, and he continued to swing the hot bat he’s been carrying all year long. Glasnow threw the first baseman a fastball over the middle of the plate and down in the zone, and Moreland launched it. The ball ended up in the seats in right-center field, and Boston had the Rays lead cut down to 2-1.
From here, we fast-forward to the top of the sixth with the score still the same. Betts got things going here with a one-out single that knocked Glasnow out of the game. When the Rays brought in the left-handed Adam Kolarek, Alex Cora countered with Steve Pearce, who drew a walk. Martinez followed that up with a walk of his own, and Xander Bogaerts had a shot with the bases loaded. He came through, lining a base hit into center field to score two and give Boston a 3-2 lead. After another walk, the Red Sox had the bases loaded yet again, this time for Chavis. He did not come through, instead grounding into an inning-ending double play.
With the lead now in hand, it was up to Boston’s bullpen to protect it. Brandon Workman got the first call, and he tossed an easy 1-2-3 sixth. After the offense stranded a pair in the top of the seventh, the bottom belonged to Colten Brewer. This was the righty’s first appearance since the Patriots Day disaster last Monday, but this one went much better. The righty set down three batters in a row to preserve the lead.
The Red Sox went down in order in the top half of the eighth, and that brought on Matt Barnes for the bottom. Pitching in his third consecutive game, he had to start off against Yandy Díaz, the guy who tied the game with a home run off the Red Sox righty on Saturday. This time he got Díaz to ground out, but Tommy Pham took care of business in the next at bat. Barnes hung a curveball up in the zone and the Rays outfielder took it the other way for a solo homer, giving Barnes his second consecutive eighth-inning blown save and tying the game. He then walked the next batter, but then got the next two to end the inning. The damage was done, though, and the game was all tied up.
After Diego Castillo and Marcus Walden tossed perfect innings, the latter’s partially thanks to an incredible play by Devers at third base, the Red Sox headed to the tenth for their first extra inning game of 2019. The Red Sox would get two runners on against Castillo in that tenth, but they couldn’t do anything with the scoring chance. Walden then came back out for the bottom half, and the Rays got a runner on when Díaz reached on a one-out dribbler down the third base line. He’d move on to second on a ground out, putting the game-winning run in scoring position with two outs for Robertson. Walden got another ground out, though, and we headed to the eleventh.
Going up against Jose Alvarado in the eleventh, Boston got their first two batters on with a bloop single and a walk. The runners moved up to second and third on a well-executed sacrifice bunt from Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vázquez had a chance for a big swing. He hit the ball hard, though not hard enough to leave the yard. Even still, it was plenty deep enough to score the run and the Red Sox were back on top by a run.
Boston will look to carry this momentum into a ten-game homestand that begins on Monday. They’ll welcome the Tigers in for a four-game set to start things off. Chris Sale takes the mound for that series-opening contest, and he’ll take on Matt Boyd. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.