Red Sox

Red Sox strand 11 runners, Christian Vázquez gets hit: 5 takeaways as Red Sox fall to Rays

The Red Sox had plenty of chances on Tuesday.

Red Sox Rays
Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays scores in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox. Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Red Sox had a lot of opportunities in their game against the Rays on Tuesday, but squandering their best one appeared to set the stage for their 8-4 loss on a rainy, sloppy night at Fenway.

With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox put runners at second and third with nobody out … then failed to drive in anyone.

Then, in the top of the sixth, the Rays blew the game open. Nick Pivetta — likely facing his last batters of the game — gave up an ominous lead-off walk to Wander Franco. Isaac Paredes singled. Kevin Kiermayer grounded into a fielder’s choice that gave the Rays the lead. Randy Arozarena doubled. Taylor Walls plated Kiermayer with a sacrifice fly. René Pinto drove in Arozarena with an infield single (thanks to an incredible hustle play by Arozarena).

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By the time Pivetta left, the Rays were rolling and the Red Sox were reeling. The Rays pushed across one more run in the frame, then another in the seventh.

“That [fifth] inning was kind of like a momentum shift,” Alex Cora said. “Second and third, didn’t happen, we walk the first guy and then they did what they did.”

The Red Sox had one more opportunity, but they left the bases loaded in the ninth. Stranding runners was an issue throughout the evening — they were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.

“That happens, when you play good teams,” Cora said. “Last few days, even before the Cubs series, we haven’t done a great job with men at third and less than two outs.”

More takeaways

2. Christian Vázquez had a scary moment in the ninth inning — Rays reliever Jason Adam threw a changeup that appeared to get away from him in the rainy conditions. The pitch clocked Vázquez in the head and sent the pitcher sprawling.

Adam was extremely apologetic, and he pretty clearly didn’t mean to hit the Red Sox catcher — plunking Vazquez brought the tying run to the plate in Trevor Story. Vázquez seemed in good spirits after he took a minute to trot down to first base. He even shared a small smile with a Red Sox trainer and appeared to say he was fine.

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Still, the pitch came very close to getting Vàzquez in the face, which — obviously — would have been a pretty bad situation.

3. The Red Sox scored all three of their runs on a pair of homers — a two-run shot by Xander Bogaerts (who returned after getting stitches following Sunday’s game) in the bottom of the first inning, and a solo shot by Trevor Story in the bottom of the second.

Story’s homer — his second in as many days — was pretty impressive, especially in light of this screenshot.

4. Hansel Robles has struggled immensely in recent weeks, and Tuesday’s game wasn’t particularly encouraging either — he threw one inning and surrendered a hit, a run, and two walks. Red Sox Stats on Twitter noted that since late April, he has thrown 14.2 innings and surrendered 21 hits (nearly 1.5 hits per inning), 16 earned runs (again, more than one earned-run per inning) 11 walks, 11 strikeouts and four homers. His ERA over that stretch is comfortably north of 10.

Robles has had an up-and-down tenure with the Red Sox, but the “downs” have outstripped the ups recently. He was designated for assignment after the game to make room for Brayan Bello, who is expected to start on Wednesday.

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5. The Red Sox are now halfway through the season and — at 45-36 — are a game ahead of both the Rays and the Blue Jays, while they are 13 games behind the Yankees (who lost to the Pirates).

“We’re in a good spot,” Cora said. “We didn’t play well early in the season, [but] we have done a better job offensively. …

“Like I always said, it takes more than 26 guys to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish, and so far, it’s been there. There’s some guys that had good first halves, others that have struggled, others that have been good in certain spots. Overall, I’m not good at grades, but we are where we’re at. We’ve done an amazing job getting to this point.”

The Red Sox wrap up their series against the Rays on Wednesday before turning their attention to the Yankees for a four-game set at Fenway.

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