Red Sox take two from Rays, AL East lead now 3.5 games

Heading into the weekend, the Red Sox had a 4.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Against the Rangers, the Yankees earned a sweep thanks to some hot hitting. The Red Sox offense was hot over the weekend, winning two out of three over the Rays. Afterwards, the division lead is now 3.5 games for Boston.

GAME 1

Drew Pomeranz worked six innings, in addition the Red Sox got to Chris Archer early as they took control and cruised to a 9-3 victory. Pomeranz earned his 15th win of the season, which ranks second in the American League.

Early Start

In the bottom of the first, Mookie Betts hit a line drive to right that snuck into the seats next to the foul pole to put the Sox up 3-0. The home run was Betts’ 19th of the season, and his first since late June.

Pomeranz used that early lead to fuel him through the first four innings. Where he walked three and did not allow a hit.

Chasing Archer

In the bottom of the fourth, a lead off double by Rafael Devers and a single by Christian Vazquez put runners on the corners with no outs. Then, JBJ singled to score Devers and push Boston’s lead to 4-0. Next, Dustin Pedroia was safe on an error by Logan Morrison, Vazquez scored on the play and JBJ moved to third making the score 5-0. Still with zero outs, Andrew Benintendi singled home JBJ to make it 6-0. That would be the last batter Chris Archer would face. As a result Archer finished the night going three-plus innings. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on nine hits while striking out five.

However, the Sox were not done in the inning. Rays reliever Chaz Roe walked Mookie Betts, loading the bases. Hanley Ramirez singled next to score Pedroia, extending the lead to seven. A Mitch Moreland double play pushed home Benny Biceps. Xander Boagerts would strike out after to end the inning with the score 8-0.

No-Hitter?

After the big inning, the cruising Pomeranz had a lot of time off. Still with zero hits allowed, Brad Miller singled with one out to end the bid. The next batter, Jesus Sucre, hit a two-run shot to center to put the Rays on the board, 8-2.

Drew Pomeranz and the Tampa Bay bullpen kept each team’s offense quiet through the sixth inning. Joe Kelly relieved Pomeranz in the 7th, ending his fantastic night. Big Smooth finished his night going six innings, allowing two runs on two hits, with seven strikeouts.

The 9-3 win was big for Boston to be able to keep arms fresh and of course to keep the Yankees at bay. Seeing the Sox score early was big as it seems they always find a way to fall behind.

Christian Vazquez en fuego

Vazquez doubled home Rafael Devers in the seventh to give Boston a 9-3 lead. Vazquez hit .385 in the month of August, raising his batting average from .279 to .294. Cooling off a little in September, Vasky’s bat has been crucial to stabilize the bottom of the Red Sox lineup come October.

 

GAME 2

Arguably the AL Cy Young favorite, Chris Sale did his thing Saturday night, leading the Red Sox to a 9-0 victory over Tampa Bay. Sale went six strong innings as he got his AL-leading 16th win of the season.

Starting Early….Again

The Red Sox offense duplicated their Friday night performance and as a result it propelled them to victory. Another early home run was the spark as Dustin Pedroia took Rays starter Matt Andriese deep with one on to give Boston a quick 2-0 lead. The Sox got aggressive after a Mookie Betts single. Betts stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. With the infield already in, a Mitch Moreland ground out was still able to score Betts, pushing the lead to 3-0.

The Sox were not done the next inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Benintendi doubled to deep left center, scoring Devers and Bogaerts. 5-0. An intentional walk to Betts loaded the bases for Mitch Moreland. He singled to bring home Pedey and Benny, extending the lead to 7-0. Adriese was pulled after the single as he could not get through two innings. The next batter Hanley Ramirez reached on an error by Evan Longoria, and Betts scored on the play giving Boston an 8-0 lead.

Benintendi stayed hot adding an RBI single in the third to end the scoring for the night at 9-0.

Dominant

Chris Sale had been reeling a little bit lately, and a start against a .500 team can always help. I think having a big lead also gave Sale the confidence to execute his pitches and attack hitters. Though he got into some trouble, he was able to escape and keep the Rays off the board.

Farrell pulled Sale after six innings and 97 pitches. Usually Sale can go deeper, but with the big lead, there was not a need to push him. Sale finished the night with eight strikeouts and one walk while allowing six hits.

Clean the rest of the way

The big lead and dominance by Chris Sale gave the Sox an opportunity to dig deep into the big bullpen depth chart. Carson Smith worked a scoreless seventh inning, allowing two hits. Heath Hembree and Blaine Boyer worked clean 8th and 9th innings respectively. The duo only threw a combined 27 pitches while allowing zero hits.

 

GAME 3

The Red Sox were able to get an early lead for the third straight game. However they were not able to extend or hold on to it as the Rays won the series finale 4-1.

Quick Start

In the bottom of the second, Mitch Moreland led off with a walk and moved to second courtesy of a Rafael Devers ground out. Next, Christian Vazquez singled to right to score Moreland, giving the Sox a 1-0 lead. Vazquez moved to third on the play by an error from Lucas Duda.

After a Brock Holt walk and steal, Sam Travis hit a shallow fly ball to right. Tagging, Vazquez was thrown out at home, though he was clearly safe. The Sox challenged, and the replay clearly showed his foot beating the tag. But the call was not overturned and the inning was over.

Porcello troubles

Run support was a big factor for Rick Porcello’s 22 wins last season. Ricky has not received the same support in 2017, and is part of the reason he has lost 17 games.

Carrying a shutout into the fifth, the Rays finally got to Porcello. Brad Miller led off with a double and Wilson Ramos brought him home with a single, tying the game at one. The Rays were not done in the inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Evan Longoria singled to score Ramos, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead.

TB Insurance

Porcello’s night was done after going five innings allowing two runs. What seems like a good outing results in a loss as his offense did all of their work on Friday and Saturday night.

Brandon Workman came in for the sixth. Wilson Ramos capped off his big game with a solo shot to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-1.

The next inning, Robby Scott left one over the plate for Lucas Duda as he went 429-feet deep to center, closing the scoring with a 4-1 Rays lead.

The run support was enough for Rays starter Alex Cobb. Cobb kept the Sox off balance as he gave up one run on four hits while striking out five.

The Tampa Bay bullpen was fantastic in the final four innings. They allowed just a combined one hit and zero runs. They were able to get out of a first and second, no out jam in the seventh. The Red Sox posed no other threats in the game as the Rays kept their Wild Card hopes alive.

Wild Card

Now at 71-73, the Rays sit 3.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot. Doesn’t seem like too big of a deficit, however they have five teams standing between them and the Twins.

UP NEXT

The Red Sox host the Athletics starting Tuesday for three games before heading to Tampa Bay to kick off a nine game road trip. Eduardo Rodriguez (4-5) gets the start against Oakland’s Sean Manea (10-9).

The Red Sox magic number now stands at 17 as they try to claim their second straight division title. The Yankees will be in Tampa Bay for three games beginning tomorrow night.

 

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