"It's no fun to be in this position," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We've talked about it. We don't like it, I don't like it. But it also speaks to the consistency of the group and really the motivation to get back to where we had been. For us it's not acceptable. We expect to be in the playoffs on an annual basis. We expect to vie for the World Series on an annual basis. It did not happen this year. And we've got to figure it out."
Many forecast this year's Rays collection as a team that could contend for a spot in the World Series. Maddon allowed that the results were surprising given the expectations.
"Yes, but so many things went awry," Maddon said. "... Just overall performance didn't match up some times that we thought we were going to see, just a strange year."
Jake Odorizzi started for the Rays and carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the second. That's when the Rays' right-hander got the first taste of the offensive verve of the Red Sox.
Garin Cecchini homered to lead off the inning, giving Cecchini his first Major League home run. Xander Bogaerts then tied the score at 2 with a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Odorizzi silenced the Red Sox in the third before Boston got busy again in the fourth. This time they did irreparable damage to the Rays' hopes for a win.
Bryce Brentz doubled to center field to begin the Red Sox's big inning. Odorizzi then walked Christian Vazquez and surrendered a single to Mookie Betts, prompting Rays manager Joe Maddon to bring in Brandon Gomes with the bases loaded.
Bogaerts greeted Gomes with a two-run single to left then Daniel Nava doubled home two more. A wild pitch by Gomes allowed the Red Sox's fifth run of the inning to score to extend their lead to 7-2.
"I felt like I was pretty rusty," Odorizzi said. "I hadn't pitched in a while. ... I just didn't feel comfortable. Didn't really have good bite on my pitches and they did a good job of taking pitches, offspeed pitches that were over the plate, but over the zone. They worked good at-bats."
Odorizzi experienced a remarkable turnaround this season. After going 2-7 with a 5.31 ERA in his first 12 starts, he righted his ship by going 9-6 with a 3.27 ERA in his next 18. Wednesday night did not reflect that improvement as Odorizzi matched his season low for innings pitched while taking his 13th loss of the season.
"Disappointed more than anything," said Odorizzi of his outing. "This is the outing I have to take into the offseason. Use it as motivation, really. It's a terrible way to end the season. It's disappointing. And it kind of overshadows a year that was up and down, but I made a lot of strides. ... Going forward there's a lot of things I improved on. I can be a lot better pitcher next year from what I've learned this year."
The Red Sox kept their foot on the accelerator, pouring on more in the sixth.
Kirby Yates walked Rusney Castillo to force home Boston's first run of the inning. Steve Geltz replaced Yates with the bases loaded. After striking out Brentz, Geltz issued two bases-loaded walks forcing home the second and third runs of the inning. Geltz threw a wild pitch on the second bases-loaded walk, which allowed a second run to score to push the Boston's lead to 11-2.
Three bases-loaded walks in a single inning proved to be a first for the Rays and tied the club record for most bases-loaded walks in a game set on July 5, 2007, also against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox started seven rookies Wednesday night and eight of their nine players in the field in the ninth were rookies.
"They're a talented group," said Boston manager John Farrell of his fresh-faced group. "We've got an opportunity in September to get some experience."