By TERRY LYONS at Fenway Park
BOSTON – It’s getting ugly out here – really, really ugly. Multiple walks, passed balls, multiple hit batters, even allowing game-breaking three-run home runs to the No. 9 batter – you name it, and the Boston Red Sox bungled it today.
In doing so, Boston’s litany of mental and physical errors allowed runs to score and a game to be lost. This one, a sloppy 9-2 Boston loss to the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays. It’s enough for Boston manager Alex Cora or, worse, Red Sox head of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski to ‘how you say? … Shake-it-up.
Cora kept his cool, but Boston dropped its 31st game of the 2019 season and enters tonight’s second game of a day-night twin-bill with a (33-31) record after losing the second consecutive game to the (39-23) Rays. Tampa’s win placed the club in a tie for first place with the New York Yankees (39-23) in the AL East. New York has a 4:10pm game against Cleveland today.
“Overall, we haven’t been consistent,” said Cora between games. “It’s all part of the game (injuries suffered and resting guys), but as a group, from top to bottom, we haven’t been consistent.”
Rays SP Ryan Yarbrough was sharp all afternoon and held the Sox to three hits until Jackie Bradley Jr. banked one off the famed Pesky Pole in right field. It was Bradley’s 5th homer of the season. Yarbrough pitched 7.2 innings, allowing four hits and only one earned run until RP Emilio Pagan came in relief in the 8th. Yarbrough threw 110 pitches (75 strikes) which resulted in seven strikeouts but no walks. Yarbrough earned the win (5-2).
Including Bradley’s well aimed fly ball HR, Boston could only muster four hits, a night after recording four, in a 5-1 loss against these same Rays. In other words, if the Sox don’t start hitting the ball very soon, they’ll be catching rays instead of catching Rays.
Tampa Bay backup catcher Travis d’Arnaud blasted his third home run of the season, a three-run tower drive into the Green Monster seats in left field, scoring first baseman Ji-man Choi and SS Willy Adames. d’Arnaud, the former New York Mets catching prospect, capped a four-run second inning for the Rays.
In the top half of the 9th inning, a perfectly executed suicide squeeze play fueled another big inning for Tampa Bay as Brandon Lowe laid down a bunt to score a ‘barreling down the third base line to home plate’ d’Arnaud which made the score 6-2. Choi knocked in another insurance run, as did third baseman Yandy Diaz, as did OF Kevin Kiermaier, after that until the Rays sent all nine batters to the plate and recorded another four runs
Red Sox starter Josh Smith (0-2) went 4.0 IP, allowing seven hits, four earned runs with one walk, three strikeouts, one hit batter, and a HR. He threw 83 pitches (49 for strikes). Smith took the loss after the rough second inning when he allowed four runs.
Boston reliever Colten Brewer reported to the mound in the 5th inning and proceeded to walk three batters and allowed another run when a passed ball got under catcher Sandy Leon’s legs to score Tampa left fielder Austin Meadows.
The Rays have now won four consecutive games after suffering a season-high tying four-game losing streak from May 31-June 4. Tampa is 10-4 over their last 14 games and 12-5 in their last 17.
Tampa Bay outfielder Tommy Pham left the game in the second inning with a right wrist contusion. X-Rays were negative, according to a team announcement. Guillermo Heredia replaced Pham in the order.
NOTES: Sox are in the midst of a long streak, playing 33 games in 34 days, including today’s “Day-Night” twin bill. The streak runs from May 17th through June 19th. … Tonight’s re-scheduled game is the result of a rain-out of the April 26th contest. … Boston lost both ends of a doubleheader against Detroit on April 23rd here at Fenway. The Red Sox will also play a scheduled doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 3rd. … This series will conclude on Sunday afternoon when Boston’s LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 4.88 ERA) faces Tampa’s LHP ace Blake Snell (3-5, 3.68 ERA) in a 1:05 game.