BOSTON – The Rays salvaged the last game of a four-game-series and snapped a four-game losing-streak with a 1-0 win over Boston on Monday. The 1-0 pitchers duel wasn’t to be expected, after the 31 runs the Red Sox had scored in the previous three games.
The Boston Marathon was the reason for the early 11 a.m. start, which might have played a role in the lack of offense. Pitchers James Shields and Daniel Bard were trading zeros across the board until the seventh inning, when Bard had walked Carlos Pena on four pitches to load the bases. With two outs, the bases loaded, and Evan Longoria at the plate, Bard had a tough task at hand. After three straight balls, Longoria was in automatic take mode. With Longoria’s bat stuck to his shoulder, Bard delivered ball four, walking home Sean Rodriguez, which ended up being the only run of the game.
Shields scattered four hits over 8 1/3 innings and notched his second win of the young season. Taking the 1-0 lead into the ninth inning, Shields seemed to be on cruise control. Shields led the American League last year with 11 complete games, and was trying to nail down his first one of the 2012 season. He retired Mike Aviles on a ground out, but then walked Dustin Pedroia on his 115th pitch of the game. With Adrian Gonzalez, the runner up in last year’s MVP race, coming to bat, Rays’ manager Joe Maddon decided it was time to bring out the closer Fernando Rodney. Gonzalez worked the count full before eventually grounding out. The ground out allowed the speedy Pedroia to advance into scoring position. With 2 outs, a runner on second, and David “Big Papi” Ortiz at the plate, Maddon elected to go against the book by walking Ortiz, putting the potential winning run on base. Cody Ross, who has had a clutch hit or two, struck out looking to end the game. Maddon’s unconventional thinking paid off and helped salvage the last game of the series.
A key point of the game came in the 7th inning when Shields ended the inning by getting a “strike him out, throw him out” double play. Ryan Sweeney struck out on a called third strike and Ross was gunned out by Jose Molina at second base to end a Boston threat.
After playing the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox, the Rays continue their tough schedule on Tuesday, as they cross the northern border to Toronto to face the Jays. Jeff Niemann and Ricky Romero will each get the call to the mound as they square off at Rogers Centre on Tuesday.
Outside the Redzone gives you Breaking Sports News, Opinion and Analysis with a Southeastern Feel and be sure to like us on Facebook!