After a day off Thursday and a rainout Friday, the Rays returned to action Saturday afternoon with another frustrating loss. The lineup, which has been simply anemic so far in 2013, didn’t look much better in this ballgame.
David Price, on the other hand, was much improved yesterday. He tossed six excellent innings, allowing just one run (solo homer), four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Although he was much better in this outing and appears to be on the right track, his efficiency is still not where it’s supposed to be at. He threw 106 pitches, 69 of them for strikes.
Boston also had their star southpaw—Jon Lester—on the hill Saturday. The Rays had a hard time getting the bats going against Lester, but would jump out to a 1-0 lead in the top of third.
Desmond Jennings would start off the inning with a line drive single off the Green Monster, and Sean Rodriguez would then drive him in with an RBI double down the left field line.
The play of the game, which would come one out later, proved to be the difference in the game for the Sox. With Rodriguez at third and one out, Ben Zobrist smacked a liner that would be caught by a sprawling Mike Napoli at first, saving a run.
While Tampa Bay was struggling to plate baserunners, Boston’s bats didn’t fare well either early on. Their first run of the game, and their only one against Price, came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when David Ross belted a solo shot to left.
Jake McGee would come on in relief in the seventh, pitching an easy 1-2-3 inning. Joel Peralta would do the same in the eighth.
After seven innings of work for Lester, the Rays would threaten to score in the top of the eighth. The first two batters walked off closer Joel Hanrahan, but their rally would be quickly stifled by Koji Uehara.
Skipping to the tenth, the Rays would once again get a man in scoring position with nobody out. Again, Joe Maddon would decide not to call a bunt. It’s hard to say if it would have mattered, but with the hitting as bad as it is right now, I’m definitely a fan of the Rays utilizing their small ball strategies to the fullest.
Maddon, however, stands behind his decisions from Saturday.
Back to the game, an error would haunt the Rays in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury singled, and then would reach third on a bad throw by catcher Jose Lobaton on an attempt to steal second. Lobaton threw the ball way to shortstop Yunel Escobar’s right, who managed to get a glove on the ball, but couldn’t catch it.
With a runner at third with just one out, Maddon was forced to bring in Matt Joyce for the five-man infield. With the infielders all playing in, Shane Victorino grounded a ball to the right side of second base to Escobar, who dived to field the ball. Escobar’s fall proved to be too much to beat the speedy Ellsbury running home, and the Red Sox capped off the chilly afternoon with a 2-1 walkoff victory.
The Rays’ offense continues to be concerning, as they went 0-11 with runners in scoring position in this game. They also left 17 men on base.
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