No one said it was going to be easy.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Monday’s Game 3, but eventually fell 5-4 when Jose Lobaton blasted a walk-off home run against Koji Uehara. Now, it’s up to the Red Sox to shake off the crushing defeat and show off their trademark resilience in Game 4 on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow night, we’ll be here ready to go, 8:30 game time. Our guys have a very strong ability to put this one behind us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Monday’s loss. “We knew coming in this was going to be a hard‑fought series. They played well tonight. We left a number of guys on base, as did they. But we’ll be ready to go tomorrow night, for sure.”
The Red Sox had a ticket to the ALCS in their hands Monday, but they were unable to punch it, as Joe Maddon’s chippy bunch refused to go down easy. Yunel Escobar led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single, and David DeJesus made it second and third with a double into the right-center field gap. Evan Longoria then tied the game with one swing of the bat.
Clay Buchholz, who had punched out Longoria with a changeup on the inside corner in the fourth inning, went back to the changeup in an 0-1 count in the fifth inning. Longoria jumped all over it, and sent it sailing over the left field fence for a three-run homer.
“Clay has pitched me really tough in the past and he’s had my number,” Longoria said. “So I figure if I try to do too much, it could be a bad thing, And he threw a two‑seamer in the first pitch, got in on my hands, and I just barely got enough of the next pitch. It was a changeup that just stayed up enough for me to get enough barrel on it.”
The game stayed tied until the eighth inning, at which point the Rays pushed across a run amid some sloppy defense from the Red Sox. James Loney led off the inning with a walk, and Desmond Jennings made it first and second with a bunt single to the right side. Mike Napoli charged after Jennings’ bunt, but Franklin Morales came off the mound to make the play. Dustin Pedroia initially charged the bunt as well, so when Morales scooped it up, there was no one covering first base. Jennings reached safely while Sam Fuld — who pinch ran for Loney — moved up to second base.
“We usually cover where I go get those, but with a guy on first, Nap will cover it and get the forceout at second base,” Pedroia said. “He just put it in that spot where it was perfect.”
Brandon Workman took over for Morales with one out in the eighth inning, and Escobar greeted him with a ground ball back up the middle. Stephen Drew and Pedroia both pursued it, and the pair collided behind the second base bag, resulting in the bases being loaded for the Rays.
“I was holding the runner on pretty close, and I just didn’t want to get into a situation where Stephen couldn’t get there and the ball gets through,” Pedroia said. “A couple of breaks didn’t go our way, and we’ll come out and play well tomorrow.”
Delmon Young pinch hit for Jose Molina and wasted no time giving Tampa Bay the lead. He scorched a ground ball to first base that Napoli, who was playing in on the grass, dived to stop. Napoli popped up and looked toward home, but ultimately determined that he didn’t have a play and instead stepped on first base for the second out of the inning.
“I thought Brandon did a great job of making the pitch and putting the ball on the ground,” Farrell said. “And then Young hits the first pitch curveball and pushes it the other way, and I don’t think Nap got a clean grip on the ball to force a throw to home plate. Took the out. But prior to that, Jennings puts down a bunt right in a perfect spot in that triangle. You tip your hat to him. The guy can fly and they had a baserunner.”
The Red Sox — never ones to give in — managed to scratch across a run against Rays closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to stay alive. Will Middlebrooks walked to lead off the inning, and Jacoby Ellsbury blooped a single into left field. Shane Victorino then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance both Ellsbury and Xander Bogaerts, who pinch ran for Middlebrooks. Pedroia knocked in Bogaerts with a ground ball to short with the infield playing back with one out.
“I can’t say enough, the way we came back after giving up the lead, we come back against their closer in Rodney,” Farrell said. “Just that was an exciting game. Well‑played game. They found some holes with some base hits, particularly two by Escobar up the middle. Still, we played a very good game tonight.”
Uehara entered in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied, and looked to be on his way to another efficient performance. Uehara retired both Ben Zobrist and Longoria before facing Lobaton, who was batting out of the No. 4 spot in the Rays’ lineup because cleanup hitter Wil Myers had exited earlier in the game with cramping in both legs. Lobaton sent Tropicana Field into a frenzy with an absolute shot into the aquarium located in right-center field.
“Jose does have a flare for the dramatic,” Maddon said. “He’s done that a couple of times now. A walk‑off triple, two walk‑off homers. It’s incredible what he’s done. What an interesting, wonderful game to stay solvent with.”
Now, we’ll have a Game 4 on Tuesday in which Jake Peavy will square off with Jeremy Hellickson. Both teams expressed confidence in their ability to show up and take care of business Tuesday, but only one team will walk away victorious. The Rays will be looking to extend the series once again, thus making good on Maddon’s promise to return to Boston for a Game 5.
“I’m sure there’s an attitude they have nothing to lose and just let it all hang out. That’s what we’ve been accustomed to for years against the Rays,” Farrell said. “As I mentioned before the series started, we have tremendous respect for them and we know it will be a very similar game tomorrow night.”
The Red Sox were the favorites coming into this series, but it was obvious that the Rays would be a formidable opponent for the American League’s top seed. The Rays almost went down without a whisper, but they ended up making a ton of noise Monday to keep this fight going.