Game 126 – Red Sox
Red Sox 8, Devil Rays 6
Weird, weird game at the Trop. Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts weird. Matthew Lesko weird. David Ortiz tripling and legging out an infield single weird.
The Sox tried diligently to give this game away, but the Rays, God bless their scrappy little souls, were such gracious hosts. After Ortiz tripled in a run and scored on Manny’s sac fly, the Sox led, 2-0 in the top of the first. Jon Lester recorded 2 outs on 5 pitches, then inexplicably walked B.J. Upton on 4 pitches before allowing a game-tying moonshot to Carlos Pena. Ahh, the 2-out walk – it’ll make you want to beat your wife. (Just checking to see if she’s still reading.)
The Sox rallied for 5 runs in the top of the 4th on a series of timely hits from the bottom of the order. Jason Varitek singled in a run and Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo followed with 2-run doubles to break the game open. Seemingly, anyway.
Lester couldn’t stand prosperity, though, giving up another 2-out homer in the bottom of the 5th. Akinori Iwamura’s 4th longball of the year brought the Rays to within 2 runs, even as it looked like a popup when it left the bat. Jerry Remy spent the rest of the game scratching his head.
The Sox got one back in the 7th when Josh Wilson allowed Manny’s easy 2-out grounder to slide through his legs and score Dustin Pedroia from 3rd. Pedroia returned the favor in the bottom of the same inning, dropping a line drive with 2 gone that handed the Rays their 6th run – Tampa Bay scored in the bottom of the 7th on a hit batsman, a walk, and an error, and wound up tallying 6 runs in the game on 4 hits. As I said – weird game. Hideki Okajima whiffed B.J. Upton with runners on first and third to quell the Rays’ last threat.
Okajima and Papelbon mowed the Rays down in the 8th and 9th, recording 4 of the 6 outs by way of the K. The bullpen provided the only semblance of normalcy in this one, pitching 3 2/3 hitless innings for the Sox. Note that Gone-Yay! remained rooted to the bench, teaching elementary French to Julian Tavarez rather than elementary celebratory techniques to Devil Ray fans.
One more in St. Pete before heading to Chicago for 4 against the White Sox, as the Sox work their way through the season’s longest road trip, a 10-gamer. After the roadie, which ends with a 3-game set in the Bronx (cue the ESPN and FOX hype machines and Jaws music) 18 of the Sox’ final 28 games are in Fenway, where the Sox own the 3rd-best home record in the bigs. (And, for what it’s worth, they’re the 2nd-best road team in MLB, behind the…New York Mets.) Knocking wood, crossing fingers, and biting fingernails – not necessarily in that order.