Friday, December 6, 2013
John Farrell: "That just was an exciting game."
Joe Maddon: "What an interesting, wonderful game to stay solvent in."
Solvent? You do have to give Maddon credit for avoiding cliches.
But it was exciting and interesting. Wonderful? That depends on who you were rooting for.
Boston got the breaks first.
1-0 Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury grounds a single to left and eventually scores on a throwing error.
3-0 Red Sox. Ellsbury doubles on a ball that hits first base. Looks to be tagged out running to third on a grounder to short, but is called safe. Scores on wild pitch. David Ortiz later records a two-out RBI single.
"We've have some tough breaks against us," Rays' Evan Longoria said. "Jacoby has played from line to line as well as any hitter can. He's hit the third base line. He hit the first base bag ..."
3-3. Longoria played a role in the momentum switch with a two-out, three-run home run on a Clay Buchholz change-up. Until then, the Rays were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position in this series. Before the home run, Longoria was batting .194 against Buchholz.
"He's had my number," Longoria said. "It was a change-up that just stayed up enough for me to get enough barrel on it."
4-3 Rays. Franklin Morales issues lead-off walk. Did you know a batter who begins the inning with a walk will score 37.8 percent of the time? (thank you fangraphs.com). Desmond Jennings follows with a hard bunt between the mound and first base.
Who should get the ball?
"Usually I get those," Dustin Pedroia said. But he also called it a perfect bunt. It was placed where first baseman Mike Napoli also had a play for it.
Tough for Napoli not to go for it, but if he covered first base, Morales could have thrown Jennings out. Instead runners on first and second, no outs.
The first out was not routine as catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hustled to the backstop to catch a short fly ball. That play would have received more attention if Tampa Bay was held scoreless this inning.
Brandon Workman relieves Morales and gets Yunel Escobar to hit a grounder. "Brandon did a great job of making the pitch and putting the ball on the ground, " Farrell said.
But the ball went up the middle and, this time, it was Pedroia going for a ball when he (in hindsight) should have covered the base. But Pedroia was playing close to the middle. And even though the ball was on the shortstop side of second base, Pedroia did not want to take chances.
"I just didn't want to get in a situation where Stephen couldn't get there and the ball goes through," Pedroia said.
Drew did come up with the ball, but no one was covering second base and, besides, Pedroia bumped into him. No play at first either. Bases loaded, one out.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young then hit a hard grounder to Napoli. It was a bang-bang play. Napoli stretched and gloved the ball, but he needed to transition to his throwing hand with perfect precision. He did not have "a clean grip on the ball," Farrell said. Napoli had to settle for the out and allow the Rays to take the lead.
4-4. Will Middlebrooks led off the ninth with a walk (did we mention the percentage of lead-off walks that lead to scores). Xander Bogaerts pinch-runs, goes to second on Ellsbury's bloop single, to third on a sacrifice bunt, and home on Pedroia's ground-out.
5-4. Jose Lobaton is the pinch hitter. He is needed because right fielder Wil Myers left the game after 7 innings with cramping in his legs (he's expected back tonight). Maddon moved DH Matt Joyce to right, meaning the pitcher or pinch-hitter would bat in Myers' spot. Lobaton was the pinch hitter.
With two outs on an 0-1 count, Lobaton expected a split-fingered fastball and reached down and got it, hitting a home run to right center. It is the first home run allowed by Koji Uehara since June 30.
"He's human," David Ortiz said of Uehara.
"I just say 'Thank God' " Lobaton said.
Today, the Rays will send Jeremy Hellickson against Boston and Jake Peavy.
This game will come down to the bullpens, especially Tampa Bay's.
Peavy has averaged about 6 1/3 innings in his 10 starts with Boston. Three of his last four starts lasted 6 innings (including a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay). See more on Peavy in today's column.
Hellickson has made it out of the sixth inning only once in the last two months. He was surprised to be getting the start. See today's notebook.
And here's a link to today's game story.
Monday's nine-inning game took 4 hours, 19 minutes.
Tonight's game begins at 8:37 p.m.
Start brewing the coffee.
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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