Final: Rays 5, Red Sox 1:For the second time in three games, a Tampa Bay lefty shut down the Sox and pitched a complete game. On Monday, it was Matt More. Tonight it was David Price, who surrendered only five hits on 97 pitches. Boston's only offense came in the seventh -- a solo homer from the suddenly hot Mike Napoli. The series finale is tomorrow night and the Rays will have a chance to jump ahead in the AL East standings.
Top of the 9th, Rays 5, Red Sox 1:Drake Britton came in for the ninth, facing Tampa Bay's 2, 3 and 4 hitters. He surrendered a single to Zobrist, but escaped unscathed.
Bottom of the 8th, Rays 5, Red Sox 1: Saltalamacchia grounded out, Iglesias struck out and Ellsbury popped out. Price's pitch count has only reached 87. He will probably close out the game and it appears the Rays have found Boston's achilles heel: Overpowering left-handed starters. (Matt Moore pitched a complete game shutout on Monday).
Top of the 8th, Rays 5, Red Sox 1: The Rays tacked on another two runs. One was charged to Beato, the other to Matt Thornton who pitched the final two outs of the inning.
Bottom of the 7th, Rays 3, Red Sox 1: Ortiz grounded out, but finally something for the Sox offense: Napoli homers on a 1-0 count, his 14th home run of the season. Napoli has now hit five home runs over his last 14 games. Price retired Gomes and Drew to end the inning.
Top of the 7th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0:Doubront registered back-to-back groundouts. But after issuing a two-out walk to Jennings, Farrell and Co. came to the mound, meaning Doubront's night was done. Doubront has now recorded a 2.71 ERA over his last 13 starts -- a big improvement over how he began the season (a 6.40 ERA through his first six appearances). Tonight, Doubront was really only guilty of one bad inning. Otherwise a pretty solid start, which included five strikeouts.
Pedro Beato got the call from the bullpen. He retired Longoria on four pitches.
Bottom of the 6th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0: Remarkable that Price entered this inning with a pitch count of 47. He needed 13 pitches to escape the sixth, which included a bunt single from Victorino.
Top of the 6th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0Doubront surrendered a single but no runs. Inning ended as Loney struck out swinging on a 93 mile per hour fastball. Doubront has only used 90 pitches, so expect him back out for the seventh.
Bottom of the 5th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0: Napoli led off with a double, becoming the first Sox player to have a plate appearance of more than five pitches. Price has been incredibly economical. The double came on his 40th pitch. But Napoli was stranded as inning ends with three straight fly outs.
Top of the 5th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0:A 1-2-3 inning for Doubront, including a strikeout. He's at 79 pitches through five.
Bottom of the 4th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0:Infield single by Victorino kicked off the inning but Pedroia grounded into a double play. Missed the last play because an Ortiz fly ball shot through the open window of the press box and whizzed about an inch past my head. I was lame and ducked. Colleague tells me Ortiz retired by a fly out.
Top of the 4th, Rays 3, Red Sox 0:Doubront surrendered a leadoff single, but recovered as Molina hit into a 1-6-3 double play and Escobar grounded out because of a very nice defensive effort by Iglesias.
Bottom of the 3rd, Rays 3, Red Sox 0: Saltalamacchia, Iglesias and Ellsbury all ground out. Price -- who came in tonight averaging 11 pitcher per inning over his last four starts -- is pitching extremely effectively. Just 27 pitches through three innings.
Top of the 3rd, Rays 3, Red Sox 0:Yunel Escobar grounded out to bring up the top of the lineup. Jennings singled on a hit to left field (misplaced by Gomes), then advanced to second on a throwing error by Doubront. That brought up Longoria, who has hit three home runs in his last five games (he hit only one home run in the previous 18 contests). Longoria singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Zobrist reached first on a fielder's choice then Myers, working another long at-bat, cashed in on the bases loaded situation. His bloop single scored two runs.
A double steal put runners on second and third. A sac fly from Scott scored Zobrist. Inning ends on a strikeout. Not a good inning for Doubront, charged with three runs on 23 pitches.
Bottom of the 2nd, Rays 0, Red Sox 0: David Oriz led off by ripping a single to left field. Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes both struck out looking. Stephen Drew, who entered tonight hitting .338 over his last 19 games at Fenway, grounded out to Price to end the inning.
Top of the 2nd, Rays 0, Red Sox 0: Three up, three down -- all groundouts. All 4-3s (to Pedroia).
Bottom of the 1st, Rays 0, Red Sox 0:Ellsbury, back in the leadoff spot after a night off, grounded out. Shane Victorino grounded out, too. That brought up Dustin Pedroia and his brand new $110 million contract. Fitting that "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," played as he walked up to plate. Pedroia uncharacteristically struck out to end the inning. A solid nine pitch inning for Price. Of those nine pitches, eight were strikes.
Top of the 1st, Rays 0, Red Sox 0: Doubront got things going early by registering back-to-back strikeouts on a combined nine pitches. The victims? Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria. Ben Zobrist singled on a 74 mile per hour curveball. Then came Wil Myers, the only rookie this season to homer at both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Myers worked a nine-pitch at bat and walked. Inning ends after Luke Scott grounded out.
Pregame: Hey everyone. Emily Kaplan here once again to blog tonight's game between the Red Sox and Rays. Boston leads Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games in the AL East standings. Big news this afternoon was the official announcement of Dustin Pedroia's new contract (see below post). Gist of it? He's the highest-paid second baseman in baseball.
On the mound tonight it's Felix Doubront (7-3, 3.76 ERA) vs David Price (4-5, 4.03).
Sox starters have allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of the team's last 20 games. Doubront, specifically, has pitched extremely well of late. In his last 12 starts, Doubront has a 2.59 ERA.
Jacoby Ellsbury is back to the leadoff spot tonight. He's hit safely in 22 of his last 26 games, hitting .370 with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in that span. And six steals, too.
Boston will need to crack Price, who has been sensational since returning from a stint on the DL. In his last four starts, Price is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Batters are hitting .213 off him in that span, where he's averaging just 11 pitches per inning.
Should be a good one. Stay tuned for updates and, as always, comment below.