Everything was in place. The Red Sox just couldn’t seal the deal this time around.
The Red Sox came up short Thursday in their first crack at win No. 90. Wil Myers delivered an RBI double to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning, and Boston failed to complete another rally despite making some noise in the ninth inning against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. It was a tough way to end a successful road trip, but it, by no means, overshadows what the Red Sox accomplished over the last seven games.
Jake Peavy took the ball Thursday and battled. The right-hander, who has been superb since arriving in late July, struggled with his command while the Rays posted runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Myers hit an RBI single in the second, James Loney ripped an RBI double off the right field wall in the third and Desmond Jennings drilled a solo homer into the left field seats in the fourth.
The Rays held a 3-1 lead following Jennings’ long ball. But the Red Sox — in typical 2013 Red Sox fashion — rallied in the sixth inning to tie things up. David Ortiz homered to lead off the frame and Stephen Drew made it 3-3 with an RBI double down the right field line.
Peavy came back out for the bottom of the sixth inning and tossed a scoreless frame despite getting drilled in the wrist by a comebacker off the bat of Jennings. By the time he exited, Peavy had allowed three runs on four hits and five walks. He struck out four and threw 107 pitches (60 strikes). It was a grind, but Peavy showed his usual competitiveness despite not factoring in the decision.
The score stayed 3-3 until the Rays got to Rubby De La Rosa in the eighth. After Drake Britton recorded the first out of the inning, Evan Longoria ripped a ground-rule double into the left-center field gap. Myers then plated him with a two-out double just inside the right field line.
“Tonight was a matter of three pitches that found the middle of the plate,” John Farrell said. “The hanging slider to Jennings, the fastball that Jake kind of pull in to the inner third of the plate to Loney and then the 0-2 slider to Longoria. But still, we played a very good series. We’re looking forward to getting back home in front of our crowd.”
The Red Sox didn’t go down quietly in the ninth. (Do they ever?) Drew reached on an infield single down the third base line and Mike Carp, who pinch hit for Xander Bogaerts, worked a walk to put two runners on with one out. Boston couldn’t cash in, though, as Will Middlebrooks, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., lined out to third base and Dustin Pedroia popped out in the infield to end the game.
“We’ve been able to do it against Rodney in the past, particularly here in this ballpark,” Farrell said. “After the one-out walk to Carp, we felt like things were starting to go our way. Thinking back to the bases-loaded double that Will had earlier in the year, we kind of envisioned something similar and he lined out straight to Longoria. We pressed them.”
The Red Sox, who took the first two games of the series, were forced to put away the brooms, but it was still an impressive road trip overall. The Sox went 5-2 during their seven-game trip through New York and Tampa Bay, once again proving that they’re just as capable of rallying for big wins on the road as they are at home.
“It is [satisfying],” Farrell said. “We would have signed up for it before we left Boston, for sure, but we continue to play a very good brand of baseball. We’re executing for the most part in key moments and we come ready to get after it every single night.”
The Red Sox, who are now 42-34 away from Fenway, will return home having won seven of their last nine games. While a whole pack of AL clubs battle for two wild card spots, Boston holds a comfortable 8 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay with 14 games to play.
The Red Sox absolutely would have liked to have finished their road trip in style. But it’ll be hard for them to complain on the flight home when looking at the bigger picture.
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