Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays beat Red Sox on Cole Figueroa's walkoff double

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had so much fun Thursday celebrating their first walkoff win of the season, they decided to do it again Friday.

Rookie Cole Figueroa doubled in Desmond Jennings with one out in the ninth to give them a 1-0 win over the rival Red Sox.

The rally started when Jennings drew a one-out walk off Andrew Miller before 20,898 at the Trop. The Sox switched to righty reliever Burke Badenhop, and the Rays countered with Figueroa, a rookie lefty swinger. Jennings stole second on a pitchout.

Then Figueroa, in his eighth major-league at-bat, lined a shot to right-center that sent Jennings home and launched another celebration, which included several rounds of shaving cream to his face.

With the win, the Rays (21-28) escaped last place in the American League East for the first time in nearly three weeks, moving percentage points ahead of the Red Sox (20-27), who lost their eighth in a row.

After a solid six-inning start by Chris Archer, the Rays went to the bullpen. The third of three relievers, Juan Carlos Oviedo, got the win. He was pitching in place of closer Grant Balfour, who had blown the save Thursday — his second straight day of duty — then blew up social media a bit with comments criticizing the fans for booing him.

Until the ninth, the game was a combination of pitchers duel and offensive failures.

Archer posted zeroes through his six innings, but he had to work for them, throwing a career-high 119 pitches.

Though his 11 strikeouts (tying a career high) and four hits stand out, Archer did create some of his own trouble. In three of the first four innings, he retired the first two batters, then allowed a hit or a walk (or both).

The fifth seemed the most challenging. Archer allowed a leadoff double to Brock Holt, then struck out Xander Bogaerts (for the third time) and Dustin Pedroia. With the bullpen in action, the Rays had him intentionally walk dangerous David Ortiz to face Mike Napoli, who he had caught looking twice. Napoli made contact this time with a hard liner, but shortstop Yunel Escobar snagged it.

Maddon allowed him to start the sixth despite being at 103 pitches — though Archer was working on two extra days' rest, having last started May 16 in Anaheim.

Though Archer won his last start, he worked only 52/3 innings, so Friday was the first time he completed six innings since April 25 in Chicago.

The bullpen was sharp behind him, Jake McGee working a five-pitch seventh, then Joel Peralta navigating Pedroia, Ortiz and Napoli in the eighth.

Evan Longoria had singles his first three times up, one fewer hit than he had over his previous 10 games. But the rest of the Rays managed only one hit through seven innings, a first-inning single by Matt Joyce.

Not that they didn't have chances, five in the first eight innings.

The Rays played some defense, too. Second baseman Sean Rodriguez made a diving stop on a ground ball up the middle in the second and ranged far to his right in the eighth.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]y.com.

   
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