It was by no means a barn burner, but the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Right-hander Hector Velazquez made his first start of the season and pitched well, despite putting the Sox in an early 1-0 hole. The Sox fought back and eventually took the lead in the sixth inning, benefiting from mostly great bullpen work to close out the final game of the four-game series.
Joe Kelly made things interesting in the ninth, putting men on first and third with two outs. But the righty struck out Denard Span to give the Sox the win.
With the win, Boston improved to 3-1 on the season, while Tampa dropped to 1-3.
Here’s how it all went down:
GAME IN A WORD
The Red Sox haven’t exactly filled the box score in their first four games of the season. But timely hitting and clutch pitching ultimately led to the win Sunday afternoon.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Kelly retired Span in the ninth to pick up the first save of his career.
ON THE BUMP
— Velazquez was solid in his 2018 debut. The right-hander allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five and walking one in 5 2/3 innings.
The 29-year-old surrendered the game’s first run on a second-inning home run off the bat of Rays first baseman Brad Miller. Velazquez exited the game after giving up a two-out single to Matt Duffy in the sixth inning.
— Boston manager Alex Cora tabbed righty Marcus Walden to get out of the jam. Making his major-league debut, Walden surrendered a double to Joey Wendle to put runners on second and third but got Wilson Ramos to fly out to end the inning. Walden came back out for the seventh and retired the Rays in order.
— Left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the game in the eighth and retired the only batter he faced. Matt Barnes then came on and recorded the final two outs via strikeout.
— Kelly toed the rubber in the ninth and retired the first two batters. But singles from Mallex Smith and Adeiny Hechavarria put the potential winning run on base before Kelly struck out Span to close things out.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— It was a relatively quiet day at the dish for the Sox, but they came through when it mattered.
— Mookie Betts led off the fifth inning with a sharp single to center field. Rafael Devers followed with a walk, and J.D. Martinez singled to tie the game and record his first RBI in a Red Sox uniform.
— The Red Sox broke through in the sixth to take the lead, but probably should’ve had a bigger inning.
Jackie Bradley Jr. started the rally with a single to center field. After Blake Swihart struck out, Brock Holt and Betts followed with a walk and a hit-by-pitch, respectively. Devers then roped a single to right field to bring home Bradley, but Holt was thrown out at the plate. Martinez then lined out to left field to end the inning. Boston didn’t record a hit the rest of the way.
— The Sox managed just six hits on the afternoon. Betts led the way with two, while Devers, Martinez, Bradley and Swihart each picked up singles.
— Xander Bogaerts — who entered the game scorching hot — had a down game, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Walden made this nifty play in his debut:
The Red Sox will travel to Miami to battle the Marlins on Monday night. Lefty Brian Johnson will take the hill opposite the Marlins’ Trevor Richards. First pitch from Marlins Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.