Red Sox lose, season ends after Rays walk-off win

Red Sox lose, season ends after Rays walk-off win

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BALTIMORE -- Capping a night of incredible drama, the Red Sox blew a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, losing to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3. Minutes later, the Rays' Evan Longoria hit a walk-off home run -- his second of the game -- in the bottom of the 12th inning to vault the Rays into the postseason, and seal the Red Sox' fate.

Robert Andino lashed a line single to left that Carl Crawford couldn't quite hold onto as Nolan Reimold's, who had smacked a game-tying double, scored from second.

Until Wednesday night, the Red Sox had been 77-0 in games in which they led after eight innings.

The Red Sox scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth, with Dustin Pedroia knocking in two of the runs -- on an RBI-single in the third and another on a solo homer in the fifth.

Marco Scutaro, who doubled in the fourth and took third on a groundout, scored the other run on a balk from Alfredo Simon.

Jon Lester, pitching on three days' rest, limited the Orioles to two runs on four hits.

J.J. Hardy hit his 30th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the third, to account for the only Orioles' runs of the night.

Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon each contributed a scoreless inning of relief.

Scutaro should have scored an insurance run in the eighth, but he inexplicably broke back to second for an instant when Carl Crawford doubled to the left-center gap.

The split second reversal cost Scutaro when he was thrown out in close play at the plate.

The Sox had the bases loaded with one in the ninth but couldn't push across a run.

The game featured an 86 minute rain delay in the middle of the seventh inning, during which the Tampa Bay Rays erased a 7-0 deficit, tying the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and sending their game with the New York Yankees into extra innings, leaving the Sox uncertain of their fate -- until just after they had lost.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season


McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season

CHICAGO -- It could happen Thursday night, or perhaps sometime this weekend in New York, where he always hits well.
But sometime soon, David Ortiz is going to tie, then surpass, Carl Yastrzesmski as the second-greatest home run hitter in Red Sox history.
Ortiz hit his sixth of the season Wednesday night, giving him 451 for his Red Sox career, one behind Yastrzemski. Ted Williams is, of course, the Red Sox' all-time leader with 521, safely out of reach.
"Know what happens when that's happening?'' asked Ortiz, when told of the approaching milestone. "I'm getting old, man. Like I always say, whenever they mention your name right next to the legends, it's something that, humbly I can tell you, is an honor.''
What makes Ortiz's spot on the list all the more amazing is that he has reached these heights after being discarded by the Minnesota Twins some 14 years ago.
He arrived as a backup first baseman, initially stuck behind Jeremy Giambi on the Red Sox depth chart. He'll retire, later this year, as one of the handful of best hitters the franchise has ever known.
On nights like Wednesday, the context seemed to have Ortiz himself in awe.
"I was just a guy who was trying to have a good career,'' said Ortiz, “and put (my) family in a better situation. Now, all of a sudden, these things are happening. It's a blessing.''
It's a stretch to suggest that these things are happening "all of a sudden.'' To the contrary, they're the result of a remarkable stretch of 14 seasons in Boston.
Only now are the numbers coming into focus. And what numbers they are.
Beyond Ortiz's ascension on the all-time lists for the both Major League Baseball and the Red Sox in particular are the improbable feats of a 40-year-old who is performing this season at a level that would be impressive for a hitter a decade younger.
* When Ortiz homered off Yankees reliever Dellin Betances last Friday, he did so on a first-pitch curveball. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated noted that Betances had thrown 355 first-pitch curveballs in his career; Ortiz was the first to hit a homer on one of those pitches.
In fact, only six of the first 355 had even been put in play.
Ortiz hit his well into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie and send the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory.
* On Wednesday night, Ortiz became the first lefthanded hitter to ever homer off White Sox lefty starter Carlos Rodon.
Since last July 2, Ortiz is third among all lefthanded hitters in hitting homers off lefthanded pitchers. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who was being benched as recently as last June against some lefty starters.
And what did Rodon learn about that particular showdown?
"Don't throw a fastball down the middle to Big Papi,'' said Rodon.
Sounds like a good strategy.
It's fairly amazing that a 40-year-old, in his final season, is enjoying all these firsts. But Ortiz has lasted this long, and played at such a high level, precisely because he works to get better all the time.
Manager John Farrell noted that Ortiz hadn't faced Rodon before Wednesday night and didn't look particularly good in his first two at-bats, grounding into a double play and hitting a flyout.
But Ortiz is forever making mental notes, getting ready to make adjustments and process what he's seen.
"His retention is great,'' marveled Farrell. "He understands what he's seeing after just one at-bat.''
There's still more than five months to go in the regular season and a lot can happen in that span. But after a month in 2016, it seems likely that we are in the midst of one of the greatest final seasons a player has ever enjoyed.