What can you say about this team? Some of this stuff is out of their control, some of it is very much in their control, and some of it is a gray area, but all of it is bad. After getting out to an early lead against the Rays on Tuesday, they lost their best player to a COVID test and then their spot starter who was pitching poorly in Triple-A and just started on Friday started to implode. In fairness to Brad Peacock, the defense behind him sure was no help, but the game got away from Boston in the third and it only ever really got back into view in the ninth when it was too little, too late. The one bit of good news? August is over.
While this night ended up being another brutal one for the Red Sox, they actually got things started on a positive note. Facing a lefty in Ryan Yarbrough who they have been able to hit hard all year long, Boston did actually get on the board first. It started with J.D. Martinez putting a line drive down the left field line for a two-out double, and then coming home when Bogaerts went the other way with a base hit. For a team that has been falling behind early far too often, taking a 1-0 lead sure felt big for the Red Sox.
And to make matters even better, Brad Peacock — who they started due to a combination of COVID issues and a refusal (rightly or wrongly) to pitch Chris Sale on normal rest — actually got off to a strong start. The first inning was a breeze for the righty, who tossed a seven-pitch 1-2-3 inning.
But that was the end of the good times for the Red Sox, as things quickly started to go downhill. First, Bogaerts was pulled from the game in the second due to what we later learned was a positive COVID test. On top of that, the Rays were able to tie this game up in the inning thanks to a big swing from Randy Arozarena. Peacock was behind 1-0 and tried to get a curveball by. Instead he hung it right over the heart of the plate, and the Rays outfielder hit a no-doubt shot out to left field. That tied the game up at one run apiece.
Peacock did get out of it after that, but the third was when the game got out of hand. The Red Sox were desperate to squeeze another inning out of the veteran righty, but instead Peacock walked the first two batters he faced. After a fly ball allowed both runners to move up thanks to a terrible throw back in from Alex Verdugo, another walk loaded the bases. From there, Wander Franco hit a base hit that only should have scored one run, but Bobby Dalbec couldn’t get in front of the cut off throw. The ball went to the dugout, and two runs came across.
That ended the night for Peacock, and brought in Stephen Gonsalves, who was brought up along with Peacock prior to the game. The southpaw immediately allowed one more to come in on a wild pitch. After a single and a hit batter, the Red Sox put one final touch on the inning when a bloop to right field resulted in a two-run double. By the time the inning mercifully ended, it was 7-1 Rays and this one was all but in the books.
Gonsalvez to recover enough to get through two more innings without allowing any more runs. Phillips Valdez came on after him, allowing a run on a hit batter, another error from Dalbec, and a sacrifice fly. He’d end up throwing two more innings after that, getting through scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth to finish the pitching day for the Sox.
At the plate, the Red Sox did add another run with a long ball from Kyle Schwarber in the sixth, his third in a Boston uniform. The eighth, they added another on a walk, an error and a fielder’s choice to give them three runs on the night. They’d then make things interesting in the ninth, getting a walk, a double and a single to bring themselves within four with one out and men on the corners.
That brought J.D. Martinez to the plate, and he closed the gap some more. With a base hit into right field, he brought the Red Sox to within three and suddenly the tying run was coming to the plate. The Rays then turned to closer Andrew Kittredge, who shut the door with two straight strikeouts to end it.
With the 8-5 loss, Boston’s record drops to 75-59. Coming into the day, they trailed the Yankees by two games for the top wildcard spot while Oakland trailed by two games for the second spot. The Blue Jays and Mariners both trailed by 4.5 games. As of this writing, Oakland won their game today to bring themselves to within a game while Toronto failed to make up ground with a loss of their own. Seattle and New York are just getting underway against the Astros and Angels, respectively.
The Red Sox and the Rays continue this four-game set on Wednesday with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. Drew Rasmussen takes the ball for the Rays, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.