Two teams heading in very different directions waited out the rain and got in an official game Saturday night, with the Red Sox rising to the occasion and stymieing the Rays 9-1 in a rain-shortened game.
The Red Sox needed Josh Beckett to recapture his form as an ace, and though it was a small sample, the right-hander delivered. Beckett pitched five-plus innings, finishing his outing in a heavy downpour.
Offensively, the Red Sox had no trouble getting with Tampa rookie Wade Davis, who was chased from the game after giving up eight earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings.
Red Sox 9, Rays 1
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Sept. 12, 2009
Headliner: Despite an offensive outburst in the third inning, no player had a bigger impact on this game than Mother Nature. Rain forced the game to start two hours later, when a small window opened and allowed the game to be played. Perhaps Ms. Nature had seen enough by the sixth inning when the Rays were trailing by eight, or maybe the umps feared someone would get hurt after Evan Longoria slipped on second base, but the rain returned with a vengeance to halt the game in the top of the sixth inning.
After the Red Sox were unhappy after finding themselves on the wrong side of a rain-shortened game against the Marlins in June, they'll certainly be happy about this one.
Dirt Dog: The Red Sox probably had a good idea that they wouldn't have 27 outs to work with on Saturday night, so they came out swinging. Looking to avoid a similar situation to that Marlins game in June, the Red Sox left nothing to chance, exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Alex Gonzalez drove in three runs and Kevin Youkilis drove in a pair while Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Martinez and David Ortiz each drove in a run. Youkilis hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth to give the Red Sox their ninth run.
Better Luck Next Time: Wade Davis could very well be the future ace of the Rays' pitching staff, but Saturday night he looked like a rookie.
A week after turning 24 years old, Davis' performance was a far cry from his seven-inning, one-run debut against the Tigers on Sept. 6. Davis retired the Sox in order in the first inning, but that's where the smooth sailing ended.
The righty pitched around back-to-back walks in the second to avoid harm, but was touched for six hits, two walks and eight runs in the third, getting pulled from the game with two outs. Not only did the Sox pick up an all-important win, they managed to slay the beast that's haunted them all year: the rookie pitcher.
Key Moment: The Red Sox (and specifically Jon Lester) probably weren't too happy with the way Friday night turned out. When Beckett took the mound on Saturday, he guaranteed the Sox wouldn't have a repeat.
Beckett took the hill with dominance on his mind, retiring the side in order on just eight pitches in the top of the first inning. He stayed out of trouble until the top of the fifth, when he gave up an RBI single to Jason Bartlett in the pouring rain.
Facing Carl Crawford with two outs and two runners on base, Beckett needed to retire the speedy left fielder in order to ensure that the game would be official.
Beckett did just that, getting Crawford to line out softly to center field to end the inning and secure the win.
On Deck: Those baseball fans who have no taste for football will be happy on Sunday, as the Red Sox and Rays will play two. The first game will be at 12 p.m., and Clay Buchholz will get the start for the Sox. The teams will go at it again at 5 p.m., with Jon Lester getting a second chance at a start in this series.
Tickets from Friday night's game will be honored in the 12 p.m. game, while tickets for the originally scheduled 1:35 p.m. Sunday game will be honored at the 5 p.m. game.