Including a six hour marathon victory Friday night, the Red Sox took two games in St. Petersburg this weekend. Coupled with the Yankees winning three out of four over the weekend, the magic number to win the AL East has now shrunk to 11 games.
A three-run ninth inning by the Sox tied the game and kept the NESN staff up very late as the game got pushed to extra innings. Luckily for the Sox, they are now 13-3 in extra inning games this season.
With Chris Sale on the mound, a Red Sox win seemed inevitable. Andrew Benintendi got it going early singling in Xander Bogaerts. The early lead is rare to the Sox and arguably guarantees a win with Sale pitching. Unfortunately, in the bottom of the inning, Evan Longoria drove in Kevin Kiermaier to tie the game at one.
Sale gets another lead
In the top of the fourth, Mitch Moreland did his thing with a solo shot off Rays starter Matt Andriese. With a 2-1 lead and a couple of clean innings, Sale got knocked again as a Wilson Ramos bomb that scored Trevor Plouffe. The lead came back to the Rays 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sale channeled his inner-Rick Porcello as he let up his second home run of the night. Adeiny Hechavarria got a hold of a slider and put it 417-feet into left field. After a Peter Bourjos triple, Sale was pulled after going just 5.2 innings and allowing four runs.
A Wilson Ramos home run in the 8th seemed to give Tampa enough insurance as they grabbed a 5-2 lead. However, Alex Colome did not realize who he was up against. First, he walked Mitch Moreland, then a wild pitch put him in scoring position. Next, a Rafael Devers grounder was booted by Danny Espinosa, scoring Moreland. Next, a Vazquez pinch-hit single put runners on the corners with zero outs.
Another grounder by Sandy Leon turned into an infield single and as a result, scored Devers. After that, a JBJ bomb to left center was snagged by Kevin Kiermaier as a catch of the year candidate. Rajai Davis tagged up to third on the play to have runners on the corners for Xander. He ripped a single to right to score Davis and tie the game.
Time for a Marathon
Through the 13th inning, the Red Sox got a runner in scoring position in three out of the four innings. However, they could not capitalize like they did in the ninth. In the 14th, a Devers RBI single scored Betts and seemed to give the Sox the game with just three outs to get. Brandon Workman’s first batter in the 14th, Kevin Kiermaier tied the game at six. Afterward Workman settled down to get three outs and extend the game to the 15th.
The Red Sox had enough of this extra inning shit. Starting with a Pedey RBI, Benintendi singled him home to put the leave to 8-6. Afterwards, Moreland, Devers, and Marrero had three straight RBI to push the lead to 12-6. One more run and three more outs ended the game at 15 innings, and the Sox grabbed the win.
Brandon Workman grabbed the win and Deven Marrero was a spark in extra innings going 2-for-4 with two RBI in the game.
In a regular timed game, Rick Porcello did his 2016 thing as he grabbed his 10th win of the season. Mookie Betts led the offensive charge as the Sox shrunk the magic number to 12 games.
In the top of the second, Mookie turned on an Alex Cobb fastball and put it into left field, giving the Sox the lead for the second straight game.
After that home run, both team just combined for five hits through the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth, Benintendi reached third on a ground out, a balk, and a steal. Mookie did his thing and singled him home. He turned out to be the last batter Cobb faced as he was pulled.
With Dan Jennings on the mound and 1st and 2nd, Devers doubled to score Betts and round out the Red Sox scoring at three. Which was plenty with Rick Porcello dealing.
Roller Coaster Porcello
In what has been mostly a season to forget, Rick Porcello did his thing Saturday and held the Rays in check. In the bottom of the 8th, Porcello inherited runners on the corners with just one out before being pulled. Addison Reed allowed the inherited runner to score off a Kevin Kiermaier ground out.
Porcello looked like a postseason starter allowing just one earned run on five hits while walking just one batter. If he continues this pace, which doesn’t seem likely, he could start game three in Boston.
As a matter of fact, Porcello is much better on the road, so if he is going to start, it might not be the worst idea to start him Game 2 on the road.
In another low scoring affair, the Rays avoided a sweep defeating the Red Sox 3-2. The Red Sox offense looked stagnant due to the pitching by the Rays Jake Odorizzi.
Having grabbed leads the first two games, E-Rod got his team back to where they usually are: losing early in games. Evan Longoria singled in Kiermaier after he reached second as a result of a Devers error.
Rodriguez thrives, then gets down again
After the first inning run, Rodriguez, allowed another run courtesy of another Longoria single to give the Sox a 2-0 deficit.
After a Brock Holt walk, Jackie Bradley Jr. got to Jake Odorizzi with a blast to right center field.
Back on the mound in a tie game, E-Rod could not finish the outing as he allowed a crucial 2-out home run to Jesus Sucre. Tampa grabbed a 3-2 lead as Rodriguez was pulled. The lead was enough as the Rays bullpen would shut down the Sox for the win.
Now in a bullpen role, David Price came out for the seventh in a crucial game. He set down three batters in a row. Next inning, Price did it again with a 1-2-3 inning and keeping his team in the game. The outing gave Sox nation hope that he will be a force out of the bullpen in the playoffs. Hopefully in the same way that Andrew Miller did for the Indians last season.
MAGIC NUMBER, UP NEXT
As like the Rays, the Orioles avoided a sweep from the Yankees. The loss kept the AL East lead at three. The loss also pushed the magic number down to 11. With six games left on the road trip, the Sox are looking to push that number down to four or five before they head home.
The Red Sox head to Baltimore tonight while the Yankees entertain the Twins. Doug Fister (5-8) gets the start against the Orioles Dylan Bundy (13-9). For the Bronx bombers, the Yankees send Jaime Garcia (5-9) against Minnesota’s Ervin Santana (15-7). The Yankees have a four-game lead over the Twins for the top Wild Card spot. A Minnesota sweep could put that lead in jeopardy as both teams are playing for home field advantage.
The playoffs are coming up, and hopefully this year, the Sox can clinch the East. Getting the division monkey their back will help them ease into October.
- Rick Porcello: Flickr