BOSTON -- The Tampa Bay Rays don't have much of an offense, so they live and die by their pitching and defense. On Friday, they died by them.
The defense especially. And especially during Boston's five-run fourth inning.
Sean Rodriguez looked like a baffled Jai Alai contestant attempting to play caroms off the left-field wall. The right side of the Rays' infield, along with pitcher Matt Moore, were unable to turn a routine grounder into an inning-ending out that would have kept the score tied. A third-strike passed ball by catcher Jose Lobaton kept the inning alive and led to another run.
And then there was right fielder Wil Myers, who camped himself under a deep but routine fly ball to the warning track in right-center by David Ortiz and then inexplicably peeled off, allowing the ball to land on the track and bounce into the bullpen for a ground-rule double. That was the biggest miscue of the game, leading to a five-run Boston outburst and -- coming as it did with the Rays leading the Red Sox, 2-0, in the bottom of the fourth -- was the turning point in the Red Sox' eventual 12-2 victory.
"When the ball was hit, I came out of my seat (on the bench that he was sitting on in the back of the dugout) to look up, right away, I couldn't see anything," said Red Sox bullpen coach Dana Levangie. "It blinded me. I had to look away (the sun was so strong and direct) It just blinded me. I never saw the ball again. And then I saw the ball fall in front (of the bullpen wall) after. I don't know (if that affected Myers). But it was kind of like that all day long, in and out, and it was really tough to see the balls.''
Speculation was rampant that Myers had been called off by someone in the Red Sox bullpen, but, afterwards, all sides said that wasn't true. Myers said he saw center fielder Desmond Jennings moving over on his right -- Sox reliever Ryan Dempster, standing close by, said Jennings never called for the ball -- and simply gave way.
"Totally my fault," said Myers. "It's something where I had to take control."
Red Sox fans, delighted their team was the beneficiary of such largesse, serenaded Myers with a chant of "MY-ERS!" -- think "DARR-YL!" from the 1986 World Series -- for a large part of the afternoon. When asked if he heard the cries, Myers nodded.
"Yeah," he said. "It was pretty loud."
But it almost sounded like his manager and teammates would have joined in the chants if they dared.
"It's a play that we should make," said Jennings when asked if he felt bad for Myers. "It's not about feeling bad. It's about winning."
"[Starting pitcher Matt Moore] got six outs that inning," said manager Joe Maddon. "Six legitimate outs, he had to get to get through that inning."
The three extra outs Maddon was referring to were the infield grounder, the passed ball . . . and the play by Myers.
"Very unfortunate," he said.