The Boston Red Sox were on their way to an Opening Day win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday before it all unraveled in the eighth inning.
That’s when the Sox bullpen allowed three hits and four walks, resulting in the Rays turning an 0-4 deficit into a 6-4 lead at Tropicana Field.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale was dominant, giving up just one hit and no runs over six innings. He also struck out nine batters. Boston’s offense was led by Xander Bogaerts’ three hits and a two-run inside-the-park homer by Eduardo Nunez.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough for the Sox.
Boston falls to 0-1 with the loss, while Tampa Bay improves to 1-0.
Here’s how it all went down.
GAME IN A WORD
The Red Sox appeared to be closing in on a pretty easy win before blowing a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning. The bullpen gave up four walks and three hits in the frame, allowing the Rays to take a 6-4 edge.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Eduardo Nunez’s inside-the-park home run was the most exciting play of the early 2018 season.
ON THE MOUND
— Chris Sale struck out the two batters he saw and retired the side in order for a clean first inning. Sale struck out the first batter he faced in the second inning, but a walk, single and a passed ball put runners on first and second with two men out. The lefty ace was able to escape the inning without surrendering any runs, though. Sale allowed a leadoff walk in the third inning, but retired the next three batters to finish another shutout frame. He also set down the Rays in order in the fourth inning.
Sale continued to stymy the Rays with a scoreless fifth inning, then struck out the final two batters of the sixth inning to give him nine strikeouts through six scoreless innings. Sale’s outing ended after six innings.
— Matt Barnes replaced Sale to begin the seventh inning. He retired the Rays in order.
— Joe Kelly gave up an RBI double to Matt Duffy — the Rays’ second hit of the day — to trim Boston’s lead to 4-1 in the eighth inning. Kelly gave up two walks after Duffy’s double to load the bases. That forced Sox manage Alex Cora to bring in Carson Smith from the bullpen.
Smith walked the first batter he faced, then struck out Wilson Ramos for the second out. Then, Denard Span put the Rays ahead for the first time with a 3-RBI triple. Adeiny Hechavarria drove in another run with an RBI single to give Tampa Bay a 6-4 lead before Smith recorded the final out of the inning.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— The Red Sox went down in order to begin the game, but they put two men on base to begin the second frame when J.D. Martinez walked and Xander Bogaerts doubled with no outs. Rafael Devers drove in Martinez and advanced Bogaerts with an RBI groundout to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Eduardo Nunez then drove in two runs with an inside-the-park home run after Span couldn’t make a play in center field and the ball rolled toward the wall. Christian Vazquez singled later in the inning but the Sox didn’t score any more runs and took a 3-0 edge into the bottom of the frame.
Bogaerts singled in the fourth inning for his second hit of the game, but he didn’t advance any further because Devers lined into a double play. Nunez struck out to end the frame.
The Red Sox went down in order in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Boston increased its lead to 4-0 in the seventh inning when Bogaerts doubled and later scored on a double by Devers. But the Sox couldn’t plate any more runs in the inning.
Mookie Betts led off the eighth inning with a single but later was picked off first base for the second out of the inning.
Nunez doubled with two outs in the ninth inning, but the Sox couldn’t advance him any further.
The Red Sox and Rays resume their series Friday night at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports