Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Baserunning sparks Red Sox against Rays

The Red Sox made several savvy plays on the basepaths to spark rallies. With two outs in the fourth, LF Jonny Gomes raced around from second to score when SS Stephen Drew beat LHP Matt Moore to first base on a grounder to first to give Boston a 3-2 lead. "You don't get 97 wins throughout 162 by waiting for the three-run homer," said Gomes, whose two-run double tied it. "We generate some runs anyway possible. That hustle is definitely erased if Stephen Drew doesn't hustle to first. So it's double hustle." Later in the inning, 3B Will Middlebrooks went from second to third on a passed ball and scored on RF Shane Victorino's single. Said Victorino: "Most people would think that was an automatic out. But no, (Drew) ran hard, beat Moore to first. And it's a snowball effect." In the fifth, 1B Mike Napoli sent a pitch off the Green Monster. The throw reached second before him, but a creative, head-first slide to the back side of the bag helped him avoid 2B Ben Zobrist's tag. "I'm not a graceful slider or runner at all," Napoli said. "But it was fun." The Red Sox continued to press the issue with a hit-and-run in the eighth while up big. But that didn't bother Rays manager Joe Maddon. "There's a lot of the game that people get upset about. Part of it is the phrase that, 'They are trying to embarrass us.' If they did, that was our fault; entirely our fault. … The object of the game is to score runs, and that's what they were doing."

Homer happy

Red Sox LHP Jon Lester struck out four of the first five Rays he faced and believed he had the fifth on a 2-and-2 pitch to LF Sean Rodriguez in the second. But plate umpire Chris Guccione called it a ball. And Rodriguez ripped the next pitch over the Green Monster for a solo homer, the first of his career in the postseason. After the inning, Lester took time to chat with Guccione. "I thought it was a pretty good pitch," the right-hander said. "(Guccione) just said it was borderline down. Nothing you can do after that." Two innings later, Ben Zobrist hit a solo homer over the Monster for a 2-0 lead. That matched the amount of homers Lester allowed over his 11 starts in August and September. Lester has given up two or more homers in only 6 of 34 starts this season. Three have been against the Rays.

Locking in

Red Sox LHP Jon Lester's adrenaline was pumping, and it showed as he hit 97 mph with his fastball and struck out the first four batters he faced, tying a club postseason record. "Our game plan was to set the tone, come right after guys," Lester said. "It felt pretty good." And after giving up two solo homers, to Sean Rodriguez in the second and Ben Zobrist in the fourth, Lester really settled in, retiring 11 straight from the fourth to the eighth. Rays manager Joe Maddon said Lester was throwing his fastball where he wanted to and his cutter was outstanding. Maddon hoped Lester's adrenaline would "wear off" but it never did, the two-time All-Star allowing just three hits over 72/3 innings. "That's as powerful stuff as Jon has had for us all year," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And it came at a very good time."

Quotable

"Fenway is one of those parks if you don't play in it a lot, it can come and haunt you. It's part of being a good team and getting homefield advantage, so let's take it to our advantage."

Shane Victorino, Red Sox RF on the Rays' defensive mistakes at Fenway Park, including bounces off the Green Monster

Boston Strong

There was a pregame ceremony honoring the victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing with their families, fellow runners and law enforcement officers joining players from both teams on the field. There was a video tribute on the JumboTron with a large American flag draped over the Green Monster in leftfield. "Those are the real heroes, not us baseball players," Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks said. "It meant a lot to us, and I know it meant a lot to the city and the fans at the game."

Gomes' blast

While ex-Rays LF Jonny Gomes has a soft spot in his heart for his former team, he said Thursday he still wanted to "kick their butts." Gomes has done a pretty good job at that the past couple of years (.232 with four homers and 12 RBI in 23 regular-season games against Tampa Bay) and hurt the Rays again Friday with the tying two-run double in the fourth inning. For Gomes, who has appeared in the postseason three times with three different teams, it was his first playoff hit (1-for-11). Gomes, who fouled off the first pitch and sent the second off the Green Monster, said he watched from the on-deck circle as 1B Mike Napoli worked a five-pitch at-bat before him: "It allowed me to jump on the first two." Later in the inning, Gomes hustled to score from second on a Stephen Drew infield single, another example of why 3B Will Middlebrooks says the 32-year-old veteran is a "huge heart" of the team. "With some guys, you can take the numbers and put them aside. Jonny is one of those," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Whether it's inside of a rally, which he's been a big part of late in the game, he's had some big hits for us. Today was the reason Jonny chose to come to Boston. And he demonstrated why he wants to play."

Tickets anyone?

While much has been said about the Rays' attendance issues, it should be pointed out there were good seats available at Fenway Park during Friday's Game 1 of the American League Division Series. You could buy a couple of field box seats for $170 apiece or a pair on the Green Monster ($185) on Redsox.com during the second inning. The Red Sox's 810-game sellout streak, the longest in pro sports history, ended in April. For the record, Game 3 Monday at Tropicana Field is sold out.

Remember me?

Rays manager Joe Maddon knows Red Sox RHP John Lackey very well, having been bench coach with the Angels when Lackey won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. The two often would get postgame beers together. "He helped pay for my daughter's wedding in 2002," Maddon quipped, "so I was always grateful." But even Maddon called Lackey a "bad teammate" after the veteran plunked Rays OF Matt Joyce on June 10 at the Trop. Both benches cleared, and dugouts were warned. Lackey, who said it wasn't intentional, points out that pitching with emotion has been key in his career, including his bounce-back season this year. "You're seeing him at full force," Maddon said. Will any bad blood from Lackey's June beaning carry over today? "I couldn't tell you yes or no," Rays INF Sean Rodriguez said. "It's up to him. He's on the mound."

Today's starters

David PriceCategoryJohn Lackey
10Wins10
8Losses13
3.33ERA3.52
4Complete games2
186⅔Innings pitched189⅓
151Strikeouts161
27Walks40
16Homers allowed26
54.1Pct. fastball57.5
Pct. slider30.0
17.8Pct. cutter
11.3Pct. curveball10.0
16.8Pct. changeup2.5
93.4Avg. fastball speed91.6
86.0Avg. slider speed84.6

Source: fangraphs.com

Pitching heat maps

Batting average of opposing hitters in various areas in or near the strike zone for today's starters:

Source: brooksbaseball.net

     
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