By MyFM's Jake Archer - Baseball is a really weird sport. I guess you just never know what you are going to get on a given night and last night made that point pretty clear. The Sox are cruising along again and their top two pitchers make short work of the anemic Tampa Bay Rays lineup. Now they are all set up to sweep and they've got another guy who's pitched pretty well this year, Rick Porcello, taking the ball. It seems like he'll probably throw up a quality start and they'll get out of there with another W. Well, not so fast!
The Rays had a very good pitcher on the mound as well in Blake Snell. Snell struggled last year and had trouble with the Sox especially but this year he's been steady as anything. If there was one obstacle I thought we'd have to overcome to win, it was scoring runs off the big, young lefty. That turned out to be true, as he went six innings and only allowed three hits, two walks and zero runs. He struck out eight and the only thing that took him down was his pitch count. At 101, he was done a little earlier than he should have been.
Meanwhile, Porcello was awful. He tends to get in trouble in the early innings, and this was no exception. In fact, it was worse than normal. The first inning saw Denard Span double to lead it off, CJ Cron walk and Matt Duffy single to load the bases. Wilson Ramos then reached on an error by Sandy Leon that allowed the first run to score and everybody to be safe. Brad Miller lifted a sac-fly to center to make it 2-0 and then Daniel Robertson loaded the bases back up with a single. Luckily, Mallex Smith bounced back to Porcello who went home to start the 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. Hopefully, that would be all the trouble he saw for the day.
Guess what? It wasn't! After getting the first out in the second, Porcello gave up a single to Willy Adames and a walk to Span. He struck out Cron but then hit Duffy with a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Ramos singled to right and Mookie Betts made a throwing error trying to get a runner. The bases cleared and it was 5-0 Tampa Bay. In the fourth inning, Porcello got back into trouble by allowing a one-out single to Span and a two-out RBI single to Duffy. The next batter, Ramos, singled as well and finally, Alex Cora had seen enough. Rick was done and was being replaced by Brian Johnson. It was his worst outing of the year as he lasted only three and two thirds innings while giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits, two walks and two Ks.
Boston was in a hole and it didn't look like they'd be able to climb out with the way Snell was throwing. Once Snell was gone though, the Sox broke through. Matt Andriese came in to pitch for Tampa and coughed up a one-out double to Eduardo Nunez. Rafael Devers grounded out to third but the first baseman, Brad Miller, tried to get Nunez as well. He threw the ball away and Nuney scampered home to get Boston on the board.
In the ninth, Mitch Moreland smacked a solo-shot with one out, but it was a little too late. Nunez hit a two-out single and Devers doubled him home to make it 6-3 but the Rays brought in Alex Colome to get Sandy Leon and end the ballgame. Snell earned the win and improved to 6-3 while Porcello took the loss and dropped to 6-2. Colome's save was his 11th of the season. The Sox are now 34-16 and hold a one-game lead over the Yankees in the division. They'll open up a three game set at home tonight against the National League's Atlanta Braves. Eduardo Rodriguez will toe the rubber against Julio Teheran. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. so be sure you are tuned in tonight and all weekend on MyFM 101.3!