After a brutal start to the season, the Red Sox look revitalized in these last two games. Monday was a blowout. Tuesday wasn’t that, but it was a phenomenal game. It featured a couple of great starting pitching performances, controversial decisions, great plays from both sides and a couple of great Red Sox hits. Add it all up and you’ve got a 12-inning win with a chance to sweep tomorrow. We’ll take it, friends, we’ll take it
Following their first win of the season, the Red Sox were looking for a good fourth start to finish the first inning in their rotation, with Martín Pérez taking the ball on Tuesday. The southpaw was very reliable, if not exactly great, last season, picking up where he left off here in this one. The Rays’ lineup can be tough to deal with as they are very disciplined and can get guys working, and things certainly weren’t easy for Perez all the way. That said, there was more good than bad, with a little help from his catcher doing a great job shooting on the edge all night.
The first inning started quickly with a couple of outs, including the southpaw’s first strikeout of the night, but his defense let him down a bit. In a pop-up to shallow right field, the ball found a no-man’s-land between a seemingly confused Hunter Renfroe and Christian Arroyo, who let the ball land and bounce in the stands for a ground rule double. However, Perez dodged the man in scoring position and emerged unscathed from the inning.
He came back for the second with a sudden lead in hand, we’ll get back to that in a minute, and he easily held it with a 1-2-3 second. Unfortunately, his only problem of the night came in the third. There, he struck out to start the inning, but then gave up a pair of base hits that were interspersed with a walk, loading the bases with just one out. Perez landed a weak line that almost ran out of the inning, but his old friend Manny Margot brought home a pair with a hit in right field, and the Rays had a 2-1 lead.
Pérez, to his credit, didn’t allow that to skyrocket. He hit another batter in that inning to reload the bases, but escaped the jam with a big strikeout to keep the damage at two. After that, he allowed an opening single in the fourth before retiring six in a row to hold the Rays to two to five innings of work.
The bad news for the Red Sox is that they had to face Tyler Glasnow on the other side, and when he’s in place, he’s one of the toughest pitchers to hit in all of baseball. I was in this. With that said, the Red Sox got on the board early as mentioned above. Christian Arroyo, who was surprisingly hitting first in this spot, got off to a good start with an opening double. He would go to third with two outs on a groundout, and Glasnow made a backstop error, allowing Arroyo to return home and give Boston a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t a sign of things to come, as Glasnow got into a zone after that setback in the first inning. Boston fell in order in the second and then managed just a double from Franchy Cordero in the third. They had a better chance in the fourth when Xander Bogaerts hit a base hit with one out and Vazquez walked with two outs, but they were stranded there to keep the deficit at 2-1. That score would hold through fifth and the Red Sox fell in order.
So that brought us to the top of the sixth, with Perez coming back to start the inning. It didn’t take long in the game, though, taking an initial hike to left-hander Brandon Lowe before Austin Brice entered. In total, Perez pitched five innings, allowing both runs on five hits (one double and four singles), two walks and six strikeouts.
As for Brice, their night didn’t get off to a great start, as Willy Adames defeated the Monster in the first at-bat against the Red Sox right-hander. Fortunately, although Lowe went to third, Adames made a mental mistake. He thought he was off the bat and barely ran down the line, leading to him being caught between first and second and gifting the Red Sox a run. After a pop-up, Brice was suddenly one out of escaping the inning with the deficit still at one. He couldn’t get that last out, with Joey Wendle finishing a good at-bat with a clean base down the middle, making it a 3-1 ball game.
As the Red Sox searched for their answer, they instead made two very quick innings to start the sixth. However, Bogaerts kept the inning alive with a four-pitch walk, and then Rafael Devers finally got his first hit of the season, hitting a hit in right field. That led Vazquez to a great at-bat with men on the corners and two outs. He couldn’t do it, going down on a high fastball to drop the runners and keep the deficit at two.
Hirokazu Sawamura was there in the seventh inning, and it was a strange inning. He hit a batter with one out, but Alex Cora challenged him just to stay. Then Austin Meadows worked a long at-bat that ended in a walk. And then it got true Strange when Margot hit a ball into deep left field. Franchy Cordero pinned him against the wall, or so he thought. Randy Arozarena, who started in second, did not think about it and turned around to score. Cordero threw it again to double Arozarena. The play went to review, and the umpires decided that he indeed made the catch, ending the inning, much to the chagrin of the Rays. One repeating angle made it not look like a trap, but another made it look like it was a trap. Ultimately, only the referee’s opinion matters, and that’s what Boston did here.
Now, the Red Sox were looking to take the bats out with Glasnow out of the game. They had Cody Reed on the mound to start, and Hunter Renfroe took positive momentum with a great one-out double. That brought Kiké Hernández to the plate as Cordero’s pinch hitter, but he came down swinging. Arroyo was then the last chance in the inning, and the Rays were going to get Pete Fairbanks out of the bullpen. The latter won this battle, landing a strikeout to strand the runner at second and maintain a 3-1 ball game.
After Darwinzon Hernandez continued to struggle with control but managed to get around a pair of walks, Boston had six more outs to play at the plate. They had the heart of the order to start the eighth with Fairbanks still looking for the Rays, and Alex Verdugo got them to the right start by hitting a double in right center field. JD Martinez liked the way it looked, so he followed up with a double of his own to make it a 3-2 ball game, still with no one out. After a Bogaerts strikeout, Devers hit one on a line but hung up for Margot for the second out. The only problem is, Martinez thought there were already two outs, so he was around third at this point, causing the Rays to end the inning with an easy double. It was an unforgivable mistake by Martinez.
Matt Barnes came in for a perfect ninth that included a pair of strikeouts, giving Boston their last chance to at least force them to become extras. Diego Castillo received the call from Tampa to try to close this meeting, and the Red Sox received it quickly. More specifically, Vazquez welcomed him with a shot to the moon in the Monster Seats on a 0-2 pitch, and so we were all tied up. That was all they could get, but it was enough to bring this one to extras.
This is where I remind you that the 2020 extra inning rule remains in place this year, meaning the Rays started at the top of the 10th with a running back in the second. On the mound, Barnes returned for a second inning of work, something he has struggled with in the past. He didn’t fight this time, once again he pitched a perfect inning and once again struck out a pair in the process.
Now, the Red Sox just needed to get that free running back home to win. Arroyo started the inning trying and failing to drop a bunt, but still managed to move the runner up with a grounder to the right side. So now Hernandez was at third base with one out, and the Rays opted to walk Verdugo, giving Martinez a chance to make up for his error on the bases earlier. He smoked one, but Willy Adames made a really nice dive stop with the frame in. Boston still had runners on second and third, but now two outs and leaving it up to Bogaerts. He couldn’t put the ball in play, and the strikeout moved him to the eleventh.
There, Tanner Houck was coming out of the bullpen for a relief appearance before being sent off Thursday. Adames immediately got close to him, smoking a line double to left field to give Tampa a 4-3 lead. After a bunt moved the running back to third, Houck kept the Rays in check with a pair of strikeouts to keep the deficit at just one.
In their attempt to return, they were confronted by old friend Jeffrey Springs. On his first pitch, Devers threw one to the left for a base hit, and so we were all tied up once more. For a second consecutive frame, that was all they were going to get and we were going for another inning.
In the twelfth, Phillips Valdez got the call from Boston, and after a quick first out, he threw one to the backstop, allowing Mike Zunino to move to third. That wild pitch would prove costly as the running back was out of contact and while Bogaerts stopped a grounder in the middle playing inside, he had no plate play and the Rays led 5-4.
So once again, the Red Sox found themselves looking for at least one run to keep this game going, or even better two runs to go home with the win. After two quick outs, the inning stayed alive when Verdugo was hit by a pitch, leaving things up to Martinez. The first pitch at him would hit the backstop, moving runners to second and third. Martinez then came in, knocking one in right field out of reach of a plummeting Arozarena, drawing both runners in and pulling away.
The Red Sox and Rays will end their series here Wednesday with Boston looking for a sweep in a YouTube exclusive game starting at 1:05 p.m. ET. Nathan Eovaldi will go for Boston while Ryan Yarbrough gets the ball for the Rays.