Game over: Rays 16, Red Sox 5
The good times didn't last very long. Daisuke Matsuzaka set the tone with an alarming performance - eight hits, seven runs in two-plus innings of work - and the rest of the pitching - with the exception of Alfredo Aceves (2.2 innings, two strikeouts) - was pretty bad after him.
Who would have thought the Red Sox, who are now tied with Tampa Bay for last in the AL East with 2-8 records, would have pitching problems? This team was so encouraged after Josh Beckett pitched eight shutout innings Sunday and after the Red Sox took two out of three against the Yankees. But last night it was back to the drawing board.
The Rays were pretty pathetic after having Manny Ramirez quit on them to avoid a 100-game suspension for using a banned substance and Evan Longoria's oblique injury. Yet they came out ready to hit and they slammed Dice-K. Their 20-hit attack raised their team average to .201, gaining 38 points in one game.
Johnny Damon returned to Boston as a Ray and stroked three hits and a walk with three RBI and got the Rays offense going with a first-inning homer. But the big story for the Rays was Durham, N.H.'s Sam Fuld, who hit a two-run homer, tripled and doubled twice and drove in three runs to pace the Rays' attack.
'Sammy was the story tonight," Damon said. "Sammy has been our spark plug. He's been awesome for us. We're going through a lot of tough things right now. We lose our No. 4 hitter (Ramirez) but Sammy embraced it. He knew he was gonna get more playing time."
Damon said the key to hitting Matsuzaka was "laying off the bad stuff. Hitting can become contagious and that's what happened tonight."
On returning to Fenway: "Yeah it was great coming back in here on a different team other than the Yankes. A little more mixed (ovation) tonight. I was very happy hearing some of the cheers."
Damon said he didn't know whether to tip his cap or not acknowledge it at all.
But Boston fans didn't like the first-inning home run or the three hits.
"I got booed by my own teammates when I hit the homer," Damon said. "The (home run) got us going. When they started threatening some, we were able to tack on a few more."
David Ortiz had a good night with a triple, single and sacrifice fly (bottom of the ninth), Adrian Gonzalez tripled and walked, but the rest of it was quite ugly.
It sets up a Jon Lester-David Price matchup tomorrow which should be interesting and hopefully better quality.
Top 9th: Rays 16, Red Sox 4
Poor Sam Fuld should have stopped at first. The local kid needed a single for the cycle, but he doubled in his final at-bat. Fuld had a two-run homer, two doubles, and a triple and drove in three runs. The Rays put up four more in the ninth. Earlier Casey Kotchman and Reid Brignac single in runs after Upton reached on an infield hit and a throwing error by Scutaro. The Mannyless and Longorialess Rays have 20 hits. They really knocked Dan Wheeler around.
Bottom 8th: Rays 12, Red Sox 4
Ellsbury crushed a homer over the bullpens, his second of the season. He has also singled. Ellsbury may be starting to pick it up offensively. He's also not playing the greatest centerfield.
Top 8th: Rays 12, Red Sox 3
Aceves throwing well in garbage time.
Top 7th: Rays 12, Red Sox 2
Moving forward, wonder how long the leash will be on Dice-K? Hard to imagine they'd yank him from the rotation, but that was pretty dreadful. Not much for alternatives. Wakefield didn't pitch well tonight either. Maybe Aceves gets consideration.
Wake: 3-1/3 innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk.
Hellickson: 5-1/3 innings, five hits, two runs, five walks, one strikeout.
This is like a bad spring training game. Jed Lowrie is now playing first. Darnell McDonald is in right field.
Top 6th: Rays 12, Red Sox 2
First of all, getting a lot of comments on Daisuke Matsuzaka. Addressed this issue in my national Sunday Baseball Notes column. Bobby Valentine,a former manager in Japan and now an ESPN analyst, wonders if Matsuzaka was tinkered with or "Americanized" too much as he's gotten away from the things that made him successful in Japan. Interesting comments by Valentine. Meanwhile, how about local boy Sam Fuld? A two-run homer, double and a leadoff triple this inning off the glove of Jacoby Ellsbury, who raced back on the long drive. Fuld scored on a passed ball by Wakefield. Damon, who walked and reached base for the fourth time, also advanced. A two-run double by Ben Zobrist continued this awful game. That spelled the end of Wakefield. Alfredo Aceves was called in from the pen and put out the fire.
Top 5th: Rays 9, Red Sox 2
The hits just keep on coming. After a throwing error by Marco Scutaro on BJ Upton's grounder, Jaso knocked him in with a double. Tim Wakefield is still out there.
Bottom 4th: Rays 8, Red Sox 2
Ah, triples by Gonzalez and Ortiz? Strange game. Ortiz stroked it to deep center and came in on J.D. Drew's single. Rays already have 10 hits.
Top 4th: Rays 8, Red Sox 1
Johnny Damon's third hit - a single to center - drives in Sam Fuld (double) with the eighth Rays run.
Bottom 3rd: Rays 7, Red Sox 1
Adrian Gonzalez hit his first triple since Sept. 13, 2009 when rightfielder Matt Joyce tried to make a diving catch of it and saw the ball get by him. Pedroia, who had walked, scored.
Top 3rd: Rays 7, Red Sox 0
Dice-K's line - 2 innings, 7 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. Forty-seven pitches.
Middle 3rd: Rays 7, Red Sox 0
Dice-K leaves the game to a chorus of boos, after allowing a single and walk to Upton and Lopez to start the third. Tim Wakefield is on.
Top 2nd: Rays 7, Red Sox 0
Oh boy. Dice-K Meltdown. Rays outfielder Sam Fuld,an Exeter Academy grad from Durham, NH. belted a two-run homer to cap off a six-run inning against Dice-K. Ben Zobrist led off with a double, BJ Upton walked and Felipe Lopez singled to load them up. John Jaso doubled in two and Reid Brignac singled in two more before Fuld, who is batting leadoff, homered.
Bottom 1st: Rays 1, Red Sox 0
Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis walked with two outs against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, but David Ortiz grounds out to first base to end the inning.
Top 1st: Rays 1, Red Sox 0
A mixed ovation for Johnny Damon in his first appearance with the Rays at Fenway Park. Damon, who helped win the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox, homered off Daisuke Matsuzaka into the Rays bullpen. The booing grew louder as he rounded the bases.