Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays swept by Red Sox in Myers' debut

BOSTON — The Rays need more than Wil Myers.

The prized prospect's pedestrian 1-for-7 debut performance was only part of the disappointment in a long and dismal day as the Rays scored two runs total in being swept by the Red Sox in a rain-interrupted split doubleheader, 5-1 and 3-1.

The opener, which included a three-hour mid-game delay, was lost due to a combination of missed opportunities (1-for-8 with runners in scoring position) and another ineffective start by Chris Archer, who walked five and pitched himself out of the game with 109 pitches in less than five innings.

The nightcap was even more frustrating, as the Rays, after being held to three hits through eight innings by Felix Doubront, tied it on a ninth-inning homer by Kelly Johnson only to lose it when former teammate Jonny Gomes hit a two-run walkoff shot off Joel Peralta.

"We needed to pitch two shutouts today pretty much to get something done," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have to do better offensively."

The Rays ended the day one game above .500 at 36-35, seven games behind the East-leading Red Sox, who have beaten them nine times in 11 tries, and just 1½ games in front of the last-place Blue Jays.

Despite his lack of production, Myers — the 22-year-old prized prospect — enjoyed his first day, and night, in the majors, including the soon-to-be-framed ball as the souvenir of his first hit. He went 0-for-4 in the opener, popping out on the first pitch of his first at-bat, then singled hard to left his first time up in the night game, saying he felt more comfortable by then. He also played rightfield uneventfully.

"It was a long day, but it was awesome, obviously," Myers said. "It was everything I expected it to be. It was just a very exciting experience for me."

Jake Odorizzi, a one-day callup as the 26th man allowed for doubleheaders, delivered his best start as a Ray, pitching into the sixth of the nightcap, and Alex Torres was again sharp behind him.

Johnson's homer off Sox closer Andrew Bailey gave the Rays hopes of salvaging a split, but it was fleeting. Peralta walked Daniel Nava on five pitches to start the inning, then left a fastball up that Gomes lofted just over the Green Monster and just inside the foul pole.

It was Gomes' third homer in his past four at-bats vs. Peralta, and all game-deciding.

"I don't know, I do the same thing to him I do to other guys," Peralta said. "I guess he probably sees the ball better on me and that's why he gets it. I don't know, and I'm not going to try to find out either. I've just got to try to make better pitches."

Gomes, who punted his helmet before jumping into the waiting scrum at home plate, said it's no longer more special beating the Rays.

"Fortunately and unfortunately, I've bounced around and everywhere I go it's my old team and my old teammates," he said. "Maybe back early when I left."

Archer's problem's were two-fold — a lack of command of his pitches and control of the game.

"He was kind of like not bad, then it would get away and he would get back into the zone, this back and forth kind of thing," Maddon said.

The key moment in the opener came in the third, the score 1-1, the Sox with two on, one out and David Ortiz up. Maddon let Archer pitch to him with first base open, expecting him to work carefully, but the 24-year-old went right at him, left a fastball up and Ortiz delivered a two-run single that made all the difference.

Archer in four starts is now 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA, not nearly impressive in performance or results as last season when he was 1-2, 3.80 in four starts over two stints.

Maddon said the biggest difference is that Archer is letting the game speed up on him.

"It appears to me he hasn't been as calm as he was last year when he was called back up more than anything," Maddon said. "I just think he's got to control the game a little bit better from his perspective, that's all."

Archer agreed, saying, "It's a little frustrating," though his spirits were buoyed by a text message he received after leaving the game from injured Rays ace David Price.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

   
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