Boston Red Sox

Red Sox shut down by Price, Rays, 3-2

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Red Sox shut down by Price, Rays, 3-2

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Jon Lester has found a cure for his early-season struggles. Now if he could just get some run support.

Lester limited the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs over seven innings, but the Sox managed just two runs off David Price in a battle of ace lefties, sending the Sox to a 3-2 loss, their ninth in 11 games.

Lester has allowed three earned runs in his last 14 innings, but is 0-1 in those starts. The Red Sox lost both games, scoring just three runs in the two contests.

The Sox closed to within a run in the sixth when Dustin Pedroia doubled to center, took third on a groundout and scored on a double to right by Jed Lowrie.

But Lowrie was stranded and the Sox squandered another chance in the eighth when they couldn't cash in with runners on first and second and two out. For the game, the Sox were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position; since Saturday, they are 7-for-52 in those situations.

Tampa collected all three of its runs in the fifth when it loaded the bases against Lester. The first run crossed the plate when Adrian Gonzalez fielded a squibber by Sam Fuld, but couldn't grip the ball to make a timely throw to the plate as a run scored.

Johnny Damon, who knocked in two runs in Monday's rout, continued to haunt his old team with a two-run single to center.

The Red Sox scored first on a long solo homer to left by Darnell McDonald leading off the third.

STAR OF THE GAME: David Price
Price came into the game with an 0-2 mark and a 4.98 ERA, but Tuesday night, he looked like the Cy Young Award contender that he was in 2010.

The lefty limited the Red Sox to just two runs on five hits in 7 23 innings. With his pitch count spiraling, Price was still able to throw his fastball in the mid-90s in his last few innings.

In career starts at Fenway, Price is now 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. Perhaps more impressively, 17-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 games against opponents from the A.L. East.

HONORABLE MENTION: Johnny Damon
On Monday night, Damon homered on the first pitch he saw and later added another run-scoring hit. Tuesday, he delivered what turned out to be the winning run with a two-run single in the Rays' three-run fifth.

In two games against the Sox, Damon has five hits, or one more than he had in his previous 32 at-bats before this series began.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez was hitless in four trips to the plate, stranding two runners. But the bigger issue was taking too long to get a throw to catcher Jason Varitek when he fielded a swinging bunt by Sam Fuld in the fifth, paving the way for Tampa's three-run inning.

TURNING POINT
Damon's two-run single in the third broke up a 1-1 game and provided the winning margin for the Rays.

BY THE NUMBERS
For the fourth time in 11 games this season, the Red Sox failed to score more than two runs.

QUOTE OF NOTE
"We don't have a lot of wins ourselves. It's not about Jon; it's about us.'' Jason Varitek on Jon Lester's tough-luck 0-1 start despite a 3.72 ERA.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

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The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their main takeaways from the Patriots win over the Saints and discuss the injuries sustained during the game, specifically Rob Gronkowski's.

6:23 - Holley, Giles, and Smith talk about David Price pitching his first innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, but Holley thinks it is a mistake that he is not starting.

11:21 - Abby Chins joins BST for a discussion about Kyrie Irving's appearance on First Take.

14:43 - We go around the NFL for week 2 of the season and talk about the most surprising and best teams in the league.