Red Sox neat Rays, 7-4, take 2-0 series lead


Red Sox neat Rays, 7-4, take 2-0 series lead

BOSTON -- Unfortunately for him, Joe Maddon was prophetic before the game.

"You don't want to mess with good bullpens," the Rays manager said before his team went out to face the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, "and they have an outstanding bullpen."

Tampa Bay had clawed back from a 5-1 deficit and closed the gap to 6-4 with one out in the sixth inning when Sox manager John Farrell turned to that bullpen. Eleven outs, one hit -- and two sterling double plays -- later, Maddon's fear had come true.

That bullpen, backed by an 11-hit attack that was powered by two home runs from David Ortiz, pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings and delivered the Sox to a 7-4 victory Saturday night and a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS. It was Ortiz's first-ever postseason multi-homer game, and he was joined in the hit parade by Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-4, 3 runs scored), Dustin Pedroia (1-for-3, 2 RBI), and, in fact, every member of the Sox batting order except Mike Napoli . . . who contributed in his own way by walking twice.

"Tonight," said manager John Farrell, "is one example of the relentlessness of this team. They look at each night as an individual challenge."

Game summary

The challenge on this night: David Price, who has been all been unhittable at Fenway Park.

"Facing good pitching like that, we [needed] to execute," said Ortiz.

"We knew it was going to be tough," said Pedroia. "We needed A-plus stuff, and we brought it."

Right from the start, they brought it. They broke on top, 2-0, in the first on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia and Ortiz's first home run. After the Rays cut it to 2-1 on Delmon Young's sacrifice fly in the second, the Sox tacked on two more in the third on back-to-back doubles by David Ross (traditional, off the wall) and Ellsbury (unique, a soft pop that landed just past third baseman Evan Longoria and rolled into short left field), followed by a Shane Victorino single and a fielder's-choice grounder by Pedroia.

Stephen Drew had that rarest of rarities -- a triple to left field at Fenway Park -- in the fourth on a ball that hit the wall and caromed past left fielder David DeJesus, driving in Jonny Gomes and making it 5-1.

But John Lackey, efficient through the first four innings, began to unravel in the fifth. He was touched for a two-run double by James Loney that narrowed the lead to 5-3; then, after Pedroia had gotten him a run back with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, Tampa Bay made it 6-4 in the sixth when Desmond Jennings singled, went to second on an infield grounder, and scored on Yunel Escobar's single to right.

That was enough for Farrell, who called on Craig Breslow. The veteran lefty got the final two outs of the inning on six pitches, and held the Rays scoreless in the seventh thanks to an acrobatic Dustin Pedroia-to-Stephen Drew-to-Mike Napoli double play to end the inning. Junichi Tazawa was the beneficiary of another Pedroia-to-Drew-to-Napoli twin killing in the eighth, as he was able to complete the bridge to Koji Uehara in the ninth.

Uehara came on and retired the side in order -- striking out the first two batters on six pitches -- to complete the victory.

"I don't know if we can continue to find words to describe him," said Farrell of his closer, who hasn't allowed an earned run since July 1. "He thrives on moments like tonight."

"He's an exciting player," added Ross. "He gets me excited and puts a smile on my face when I see him. It's a pleasure to catch him."

Before Uehara arrived, he had been given a bit of a cushion by an eighth-inning homer from Ortiz, who's 3-for-8 with a double and two homers in the first two games of the series.

"When he's cooking, he's very difficult," said Maddon.

As are the Sox.

Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up


Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up

Clay Buchholz hopes ot lead off the afternoon game better than his last start, where he game up a home run and double to leadoff the game against Chicago.

The righty has a career 4.10 ERA against Texas in 41.2 innings pitched against Texas with a 1-5 record.

Unfortunately for Boston, Buchholz is even worse at Globe Life Park. The righty is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 at the Rangers home field.

The lineups:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz DH
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Ryan LaMarre LF
Clay Buchholz RHP

Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Bryan Holaday C
Martin Perez LHP

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"


Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:



* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.





* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.





1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.


2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.


3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas


First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:


Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.


Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.


Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.


For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.


The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.