15-10: Tampa Bay defense downs Sox, 5-4


It would have been nice to come away with an easy win in game 1 of this series in Tampa, but Tim Wakefield just didn’t have it tonight. Still, the Sox rallied to tie the game at 4-4 in the 6th inning, and the bullpen did their job admirably. With 10 hits and 5 walks, the Red Sox threatened several times, but stranded 24 baserunners in this one. Tampa Bay took away hits with good defensive plays, and Boston hit into inning-ending double plays in the 10th and 11th innings, letting this one slip away, 5-4. Our defense did a good job too, as Tampa left 23 men on base; it was a frustrating game that way.

Wakefield gave up four runs, six hits and walked five in six innings, striking out just one batter. Quite a change from his usual dominance of the Rays. He struggled through bouts of knuckleball wildness, and needed 113 pitches to make it through six.

In the second inning, the Red Sox staged a 3-run rally around a single by Manny Ramirez and consecutive walks to J.D. Drew and Sean Casey. Julio Lugo walked in a run, Kevin Cash hit a sac fly, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled to complete the scoring. Casey injured himself rounding third base, and that caused a big shift in the lineup. It was a bad game to go into extra innings, and the Sox had to use everyone, even the still ill Jason Varitek.

With the game tied at 3-3, Lugo’s error on a Jonny Gomes grounder allowed Carl Crawford to score, costing the Sox the go-ahead run. That mistake would eventually determine the course of this game.

In the 9th inning, thanks to a heads-up baserunning move by Cash on a fielder’s choice, Boston would get a runner on second, only to have David Ortiz fly out and Manny strike out to end the inning. Dan Wheeler challenged Manny with a high fastball at 91 mph, and you don’t see him miss many of those, so he must have been fooled. They mounted another threat in the 10th when Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie walked, but Jason Bartlett made a very nice kneeling backhand, short-hop play on a hard Lugo grounder in the hole to get start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Yet again in the 11th, the Sox got two men on, and Papi hit into an inning-ending double play. He dove headlong into first in an attempt to try and beat the throw, showing his heart and unwillingness to give up that out.

David Aardsma, Bryan Corey and Javier Lopez did well to preserve the deadlock, and Mike Timlin (2-2) came on and pitched decently well too. Rookie Nathan Haynes hit the game-winning RBI single off of Timlin in the bottom half of the frame to seal the game. The 8 walks issued really killed us in this game.

Papi went 0-6 in a particularly frustrating game; he continues to pull the ball almost every at bat. He’s hitting his share of hard fly balls, but also grounding out a lot. This could be a timing issue, or more likely, Papi is playing through pain. The knee is still bothering him some, and he has to ice it down after the game.

Cash had a 3-3 day at the plate, adding a sac fly in the 3-run 2nd inning. It was his first multi-hit game of the year and the 4th game in which he had at least 3 hits. Dustin Pedroia singled in his 6th at-bat, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

After the game, there was talk that Casey might be headed to the DL with a right hip flexor sprain. In that event, either Brandon Moss or Chris Carter could be called up to take his roster spot. Moss is batting .268/.337/.427 with 1 HR and 12 RBI at Pawtucket, while Carter is at .305/.380/.402 with 8 doubles and 9 RBI in 22 games, also with the Paw Sox.

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