It all crumbled so fast.
The Boston Red Sox blew a four-run lead in the sixth inning Wednesday en route to a 7-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. It’s a difficult defeat for the Red Sox to swallow, as they had been cruising along until coughing up their advantage seemingly out of nowhere.
GAME IN A WORD
Everything was going smoothly for Joe Kelly until the sixth inning. That’s when the right-hander began to sink, quickly sunk deeper and soon found himself in over his head.
Kelly entered the inning with a manageable pitch count and in control as the Red Sox led 5-1. But four straight singles and a walk led to two runs and Kelly’s departure, spoiling what had been a good start.
Brandon Guyer tied the game 5-5 with a two-run single off Craig Breslow, who relieved Kelly with no outs. Both runs were charged to Kelly.
Desmond Jennings followed back-to-back singles off Edward Mujica in the seventh inning with a run-scoring double play that gave the Rays a 6-5 lead. Jake Elmore added insurance with a solo homer.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
The Rays carried the momentum they established in the sixth inning into the seventh inning.
Brad Boxberger struck out David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Napoli in order in the top of the seventh. Asdrubal Cabrera and Evan Longoria started the home half with back-to-back singles, setting up runners at the corners for Jennings, who plated Tampa Bay’s sixth run with a ground ball to short.
Elmore’s solo blast was the final nail in Boston’s coffin.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Mookie Betts reached base twice (walk, single). His average is up over the Mendoza Line at .203, but doesn’t it seem like a good .203? (If that makes any sense at all.)
Betts’ single plated Ryan Hanigan in the sixth inning.
— Dustin Pedroia launched his fourth homer in the third inning. He’s already more than halfway to his total from last season (seven), showing again that his hand/wrist issues are behind him.
— Ortiz crushed a solo homer in the fifth inning. He didn’t pimp the homer as much as he probably should have, but his third blast of the season extended Boston’s lead to 4-1.
— Napoli had a very encouraging night at the plate.
Napoli raised his average to .170 by going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI single. He also walked.
Ramirez scored from first base on Napoli’s RBI single. He ran right through third base coach Brian Butterfield’s stop sign and benefited from a throw that was up the third base line.
— Pablo Sandoval and Xander Bogaerts both went 0-for-4.
Bogaerts struck out three times.
ON THE BUMP
— Kelly was dealing through the first five innings before running smack dab into a brick wall in the sixth.
Kelly allowed four consecutive singles and issued a walk before departing in the sixth. The problems started with him suddenly falling behind hitters, resulting in obvious frustration.
Kelly was charged with five earned runs on eight hits over five-plus innings. He struck out seven, walked one and threw 82 pitches (50 strikes).
He was much more efficient in this outing than he was in his last. To a point, of course.
— Mujica took the loss after allowing two runs on three hits in the seventh inning.
— Anthony Varvaro tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
TWEET OF THE GAME
It’s been an interesting 15 games, to say the least.
Rotation doesn't even have the decency to be bad in an understandable way. They flip the switch from awful to excellent and back.—
(@OverTheMonster) April 23, 2015
The Red Sox and Rays will close out their three-game series Thursday. Clay Buchholz is scheduled to face Jake Odorizzi.
Boston hasn’t lost a series this season through four sets. The Sox will need a win in Thursday’s finale to keep the streak alive, as Boston and Tampa Bay have split the first two games at The Trop.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images