All of the hope and excitement that came out of the Tampa Bay Rays back-to-back wins against the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians was turned around in an ugly game at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon. The Rays entered the series as a clear underdog to the Boston Red Sox, who have proved to be one of the best teams in the league this season. The Rays also had the disadvantage of having started their two best pitchers in their last two must-win games.
Matt Moore started for the Rays, and started the game off strong, allowing no runs in the first three innings. Unfortunately for Moore, however, the Rays’ defense in the fourth inning allowed the game to slip away from them. Wil Myers allowed a fly ball that was hit by David Ortiz to eat him up in right field and bounce over the wall for a ground-rule double. Later, Will Middlebrooks hit a double off the Green Monster that got away from Sean Rodriguez, who is not the Rays’ usual starting left fielder, and allowed another run to score. To make things even worse for the Rays, after striking out Jacoby Ellsbury, the ball got away from catcher Jose Lobaton to allow Ellsbury to get to first base. By the end of it all, the Rays’ defense allowed the Red Sox to score five runs in the fourth, crippling the morale of the team. The Red Sox would go on to score seven more, ending the game with a score of 12-2.
Many people were very impressed by the heart of the Rays in the last month of the season, but it simply looked like a different team on Thursday afternoon. The Rays managed to beat themselves with errors, which will usually lead to a team like the Red Sox turning those miscues into runs. If Tampa wants a shot at winning this series, they need to be playing the best baseball that they can, and hope that the rest falls into play.
The Rays and Red Sox play Game 2 of their series tonight in Boston, and there is no question the Rays would like a victory before returning to Tropicana Field on Monday.