The Boston Red Sox?s first visit to Florida since spring training started off on a positive note.
The Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in the series opener of a three-game set Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Boston doubled Tampa Bay’s hit total — eight to four — but the difference in the contest was one unearned run.
The run was a product of an aggressive baserunning play by Mookie Betts, who broke up a double play at second base in the third inning.
GAME IN A WORD
There simply was no margin for error.
The Red Sox went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. The Rays had far fewer quality scoring chances, as Tampa Bay went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
The Rays put the potential tying run aboard in the ninth inning before Koji Uehara closed things out.
IT WAS OVER WHEN?
Alexi Ogando wiggled the Red Sox out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning.
The inning featured a game-changing play that went Boston?s way. Steven Souza Jr. hit a ground ball to the left side after Brandon Guyer singled into left field with one out. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval fielded it on the run and fired to second base, where Guyer was called out on a bang-bang play.
Rays manager Kevin Cash challenged the call, contesting that Guyer?s foot beat Sandoval?s throw. It was incredibly close, but the call was upheld, leaving the Rays with a runner on first base and two outs.
Wade Miley, who slipped off the mound on two separate occasions, issued back-to-back walks to Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria to load the bases with two down. Red Sox manager John Farrell then called upon Ogando, who forced Desmond Jennings to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4 force out.
IN THE BATTER?S BOX
— Betts put together a couple of good at-bats one day after snapping an 0-for-11 skid. He singled and walked against Rays starter Chris Archer.
Betts also had an awesome takeout slide at second base that helped produce the game?s only run. (More on that below.)
— Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-4, lowering his average to .259. However, he did hit the ball that was responsible for the game?s lone run.
Pedroia grounded back to the mound with Betts on first base and Ryan Hanigan on second base. Archer made the play and fired to second, where Betts took out Ryan Brett with a hard slide. Brett?s throw to first base was off the mark, and Hanigan scored as Pedroia scooted up to second base on the error.
— Hanley Ramirez, who left Monday?s game due to illness, appeared to be feeling better. He collected two hits and even stole a base in the second inning.
— Brock Holt, who played shortstop, went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt but again stepped up in the field. He made a sensational diving play in the hole to end the seventh inning.
— Hanigan went 2-for-4 with two hot-shot singles back through the box. As mentioned, he scored the only run.
ON THE BUMP
— Miley needed some help in the sixth inning as Boston preserved its lead. But other than that, it was an encouraging outing for Miley, who was knocked around in his last start against the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park.
Miley walked four and allowed three hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings. He struck out three and threw 88 pitches (52 strikes) while lowering his ERA from 10.57 to 6.08.
Farrell has left in his starters a bit longer than expected on a few occasions this season, but he made sure he didn?t make that mistake with Miley. It worked out, as Ogando sealed off the sixth-inning threat.
— Ogando retired both hitters he faced in the seventh inning after escaping the sixth.
Robbie Ross Jr. ended the frame by retiring Asdrubal Cabrera, though it took a fantastic play by Holt.
— Junichi Tazawa needed only six pitches to work a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
— Uehara tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his second save.
Uehara forced Longoria to ground into a 5-4-3 double play after Forsythe led off the inning with a single.
TWEET OF THE GAME
The Red Sox and Rays will continue their three-game series Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. Joe Kelly is scheduled to face Nathan Karns, which will complete Boston?s third turn through its rotation.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images