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Red Sox 6, Rays 5: Dare we say turning point?

Whatever we want to call it, that game ruled.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

After a brutal start to their season, the Red Sox are looking re-energized in these last two games. Monday was a blowout. Tuesday was very much not that, but it was a phenomenal game. It featured a pair of great starting pitching performances, controversial calls, big plays on both sides, and a pair of big-time clutch hits from the Red Sox. Add it all up you get a 12-inning victory with a chance to sweep tomorrow. We’ll take it, folks, We’ll take it.

Coming off their first win of the season, the Red Sox were looking for a fourth good start to finish the first turn through their rotation, with Martín Pérez taking the ball on Tuesday. The southpaw was very reliable, if not exactly great, last season, and he picked up where he left off here in this one. The Rays lineup can be a tough one to face as they are very disciplined and can make guys work, and things certainly weren’t smooth for Pérez the whole way through. That said, there was more good than bad, with some help from his catcher doing a hell of a job on borderline pitches all night long.

The first inning started quickly with a pair of outs including the southpaw’s first strikeout of the night, but his defense let him down a bit. On a pop up into shallow right field, the ball found no man’s land between a seemingly confused Hunter Renfroe and Christian Arroyo, both of whom let the ball fall in and bounce into the stands for a ground rule double. Pérez worked around the man in scoring position, though, getting out of the inning unscathed.

He’d come back out for the second with a lead suddenly in hand — we’ll come back to that in a minute — and he held it easily with a 1-2-3 second. Unfortunately, his one bit of trouble on the night came in the third. There, he got a strikeout to start off the inning, but then gave up a pair of base hits that were sandwiched by a walk, loading the bases with just one out. Pérez did get a weak line drive to nearly sneak his way out of the inning, but old friend Manny Margot brought home a pair with a base hit into right field, and just like that the Rays had a 2-1 lead.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Pérez, to his credit, did not allow that to snowball. He did hit another batter in that inning to load the bases back up, but escaped the jam with a huge strikeout to keep the damage at two. After that, he allowed a leadoff single in the fourth before retiring six straight to keep the Rays to two through five innings of work.

The bad news for the Red Sox is that they had to go up against Tyler Glasnow on the other side, and when he’s on he’s among the most difficult pitchers to hit in all of baseball. He was on in this one. That said, the Red Sox did get on the board early as alluded to above. Christian Arroyo, who was surprisingly hitting in the leadoff spot for this one, got things off to a good start with a leadoff double. He’d move on over to third with two outs on a ground out, and Glasnow made a mistake that got to the backstop, allowing Arroyo to come home and give Boston the early 1-0 lead.

That was not a sign of things to come, unfortunately, as Glasnow got in a zone after that first inning hiccup. Boston went down in order in the second, and then managed just a Franchy Cordero double in the third. They did get a better chance in the fourth when Xander Bogaerts smacked a one-out base hit and Vázquez drew a two-out walk, but they were stranded there to keep the deficit at 2-1. That score would hold through the fifth as well as the Sox went down in order.

So that brought us to the top of the sixth, with Pérez coming back in to start the inning. He was not long for the game, though, issuing a leadoff walk to the left-handed Brandon Lowe before Austin Brice entered. In all, Pérez tossed five innings, allowing the two runs on five hits (one double and four singles), two walks and six strikeouts.

As for Brice, his evening did not get off to a great start as Willy Adames put one off the Monster in the first at bat against the Red Sox righty. Fortunately, although Lowe got over to third Adames made a mental mistake. He thought it was gone off the bat and barely ran down the line, leading to him getting caught between first and second and gifting the Red Sox a run. After a pop up, Brice was suddenly one out away from escaping the inning with the deficit still at one. He couldn’t get that last out, with Joey Wendle finishing up a good at bat with a clean base hit up the middle, making it a 3-1 ballgame.

As the Red Sox looked for their answer, they instead made two very quick innings to start the sixth. Bogaerts kept the inning alive, though, with a four-pitch walk, and then Rafael Devers finally got his first hit of the season, smacking a base hit into right field. That brought Vázquez up for a big at bat with men on the corners and two outs. He couldn’t get it done, going down on a high fastball to strand the runners and keep the deficit at two.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Hirokazu Sawamura was in there for the seventh, and it was a strange inning. He hit a batter with one out, but Alex Cora challenged it only to have it upheld. Then Austin Meadows worked a long at bat that ended in a walk. And then it got real weird when Margot hit a ball to deep left field. Franchy Cordero caught it at the wall, or at least he thought so. Randy Arozarena, who started at second, did not think so and came around to score. Cordero threw it back in to double up Arozarena. The play went to review, and the umps decided he did indeed make the catch, ending the inning, much to the chagrin of the Rays. One replay angle made it look very much not like a catch, but another made it appear it was a catch. Ultimately, only the ump’s opinion matters, and it went Boston’s way here.

Now, the Red Sox were looking to get the bats going with Glasnow out of the game. They had Cody Reed on the mound to start things off, and Hunter Renfroe got some positive momentum going with a big one-out double. That brought Kiké Hernández to the plate as a pinch hitter for Cordero, but he went down swinging. Arroyo was then the last chance in the inning, with the Rays going to get Pete Fairbanks from the bullpen. The latter won this battle, getting a strikeout to strand the runner at second and keep it a 3-1 ballgame.

After Darwinzon Hernandez continued to struggle with control but managed to work around a pair of walks, Boston had six more outs to play with at the plate. They had the heart of the order coming up to start the eighth with Fairbanks still going for the Rays, and Alex Verdugo got them off to the right start by poking a double into right-center field. J.D. Martinez liked the way that looked, so he followed it up with a double of his own to make it a 3-2 ballgame, still with nobody out. After a Bogaerts strikeout, Devers hit one on a line but it hung up for Margot for the second out. The only problem is Martinez thought there were already two outs, so he was around third by this point, making it an easy double up for the Rays to end the inning. It was an inexcusable mistake by Martinez.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Matt Barnes came on for a perfect ninth that included a pair of strikeouts, giving Boston their final chance to at least force this one into extras. Diego Castillo got the call for Tampa to try and close this one out, and the Red Sox quickly welcomed him. More specifically, Vázquez welcomed him by smashing a moonshot into the Monster Seats on an 0-2 pitch, and just like that we were all tied up. That was all they could get, but it was enough to push this one into extras.

Here’s where I remind you that the 2020 extra inning rule remains in place this year, meaning the Rays started the top of the tenth with a runner on second. On the mound, Barnes was back for a second inning of work, something he has struggled with in the past. He did not struggle this time, once again tossing a perfect inning and once again striking out a pair in the process.

Now, the Red Sox just needed to get that free runner home to grab a walk off victory. Arroyo started the inning trying and failing to drop a bunt, but he still managed to move the runner up with a grounder to the right side. So now Hernández was at third base with one out, and the Rays opted to walk Verdugo, bringing Martinez up with a chance to make up for his blunder on the bases earlier. He did smoke one, but Willy Adames made a really nice diving stop with the infield in. Boston still had runners on second and third, but now two outs and leaving it up to Bogaerts. He couldn’t get the ball in play, and the strikeout moved this one along to the eleventh.

There, it was Tanner Houck coming out of the bullpen for a relief appearance before he gets sent down on Thursday. Adames immediately got to him, smoking a line drive double into left field to give Tampa the 4-3 lead. After a bunt moved the runner up to third, Houck kept the Rays in check with a pair of strikeouts to keep the deficit at just one.

In their attempt to come back, they were going up against old friend Jeffrey Springs. On his very first pitch, Devers ripped one into left for a base hit, and just like that we were all tied up once again. For a second straight frame, that was all they’d get and we’d go for another inning.

In the 12th, Phillips Valdez got the call for Boston, and after a quick first out he threw one to the backstop, allowing Mike Zunino to move up to third. That wild pitch would prove to be costly, as the runner was off on contact and while Bogaerts stopped a grounder up the middle playing in, he had no play at the plate and the Rays jumped ahead 5-4.

So once again the Red Sox found themselves looking for at least one run to keep this game going, or even better two runs to go home with the win. After two quick outs, the inning stayed alive when Verdugo was hit by a pitch, leaving things up to Martinez. The first pitch to him would get to the backstop, moving the runners up to second and third. Martinez then came through, smacking one into right field out of the reach of a diving Arozarena, bringing in both runners and walking it off.

The Red Sox and Rays will finish up their series here on Wednesday with Boston looking for a sweep in a YouTube-only game starting at 1:05 PM ET. Nathan Eovaldi will go for Boston while Ryan Yarbrough gets the ball for the Rays.


Courtesy of FanGraphs