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Red Sox 2, Rays 9: Still searching for offense

The Red Sox lineup was mostly shut down for a second straight game.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Red Sox offense is missing. If anyone has any information on its whereabouts, please contact the proper authorities. For the second straight game, Boston’s hitters were unable to get much of anything going against the Rays starter. Yonny Chirinos went eight shutout innings on Friday, and then on Saturday Ryan Yarbrough would allow just one unearned run (two total) while recording just one fewer out. It’s not great! The Red Sox have now lost pretty much all momentum they’d built up in their previous four games, and now will have to scramble to take the next two and salvage a split in this four-game set against Tampa Bay.

For the second straight game, the Red Sox were going up against a starting pitcher who had been more commonly used as a “follower” over the last couple of seasons, meaning they have come in for multiple innings after the “opener” started things off for the Rays. On Friday, it was Yonny Chirinos getting the start and the righty totally dominated the Red Sox over eight shutout innings. They needed to get the bats going against a lefty this time, going up against Ryan Yarbrough. Boston has struggled against southpaws all year, but Yarbrough had not been throwing well heading into this start.

Unfortunately, that was not a trend that continued into this first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Red Sox lineup picked up right where they left off on Friday, which obviously is not a good thing. It sure would have been helpful to get going early and build a little momentum while avoiding Yarbrough getting into any sort of rhythm. Instead, the top of Boston’s order went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the first.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

They did, however, get on the board in the second with a little help from Tampa’s defense. Their rally started with a base hit from Christian Vázquez, and then Eduardo Núñez hit what appeared to be a double play ball out to second base. Instead, Brandon Lowe botched the play and allowed the ball to get into center field, which in turn put Vázquez at third. So, there were now runners on the corners with just one out, and Sam Travis came through with a big base hit to give Boston their first run of the game. They had a chance to keep the momentum going with runners still on the corners, but they would be stranded there and Boston settled for one.

From there, Yarbrough settled in and things got very quiet very quickly. The Red Sox would go down in order in each of the next three innings, with the Rays lefty setting down 12 in a row overall. That streak ended with one out in the sixth when Michael Chavis poked a single out to right field, but a double play ended any chance at that weak hit sparking any sort of rally. They got the leadoff man on in the seventh thanks to an error, too, but for the second straight inning things ended on a double play.

So, the Red Sox managed just the one run there, putting a whole lot of pressure on Josh Smith, who was called up prior to the game to make the start. The righty had been down in Pawtucket and certainly doesn’t have the most upside. He’d made one major-league start this year prior to Saturday, allowing four runs in 3 13 innings against Baltimore back in early May. He got into some early trouble in this one, too, allowing a leadoff base hit to Austin Meadows. Tampa’s outfielder immediately stole second, too, putting a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Smith got through it, though, getting a strikeout, a deep fly out and another strikeout to end the potential rally.

The second wouldn’t end as well. There, with the game still tied at zeros, Ji-Man Choi led off the inning with a base hit. After a couple of outs, Smith issued a big walk to continue the inning and put two on for Travis d’Arnaud. The catcher worked a full count, and then Smith left a cutter up and in. d’Arnaud jumped all over it, smoking it up over the wall in left field for a three-run shot. The Rays kept it going from there, too, as Meadows single before Smith hit Tommy Pham with a pitch. Lowe then came through with an RBI single and the Rays exited the inning with a 4-0 lead.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Smith did get through the next two innings in order, though with some help from his defense with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts each throwing a runner out to save hits. Colten Brewer then came on for the fifth, and things got pretty ugly. The righty walked the first two batters he saw, continuing a trend all year in which control has been a major issue for him. Brewer then got a ground ball to first base, and Chavis tried to get the out at second. He had time, but his throw pulled Xander Bogaerts off the bag and after the error there were no outs and the bases were loaded. Brewer did get a big strikeout after that, but the third strike resulted in a passed ball, giving the Rays a 5-1 lead. Fortunately, after re-loading the bases on another walk Brewer got a big double play to end the inning with just the one run scoring.

Mike Shawaryn had the next two innings for the Red Sox, getting an easy sixth before working around two hit batters in the seventh for another scoreless frame. The eighth belonged to Ryan Brasier, who tossed a 1-2-3 inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, Yarbrough was still in the game, making it a second consecutive game in which the Rays starter pitched into the eighth. The Red Sox got a little bit of life here, though. With one out, Bradley came to the plate and blasted one off the Pesky Pole. Somehow, for as poorly as this day had gone, it was suddenly just a three-run game. That was all they’d get, though.

Josh Taylor came in for the ninth, and at this point things got away from the Red Sox. The lefty allowed four runs to put the deficit at seven, and Boston had one more chance. That chance included Marco Hernandez’ return to the majors for his first time in the majors since 2017. He got a double in that at bat. The Red Sox would fail to score in the inning, though, and they’d drop the first two games of the series.

The Red Sox and Rays will be right back in action in a little under two hours. David Price will be on the mound for the Red Sox, while the Rays still haven’t said who’s starting.