BOSTON -- The Red Sox closed out their 3-2 home-opener win over the Rays in the 12th inning of Thursday afternoon's game at Fenway Park, but for Tampa Bay, it felt like it had lost the game after what took place in the ninth.
Closer Alex Colome entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with a 2-0 lead and everything had fallen into place for the Rays to that point. Matt Duffy hit a two-run homer in the eighth to give the Rays the lead, and rookie Yonny Chirinos had pitched brilliantly for five innings at the front end of a bullpen day.
"Yeah, definitely you liked your chances there," Duffy said.
Yes, Colome is normally money. The Rays' closer led the Major Leagues with 47 saves in 2017. However, he had not pitched since notching an Opening Day save against the Red Sox in Tampa Bay's only win of the season.
"Yeah, I think with the amount of time off, it definitely had an effect on him today," Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder said.
Duffy added that the Red Sox see Colome "a lot."
"That's the only real hesitation in the back of your mind about not feeling pretty good about things right there," Duffy said. "But even with that, he's so good. You love your chances, but they were able to get the bat on the ball. It was kind of like they were sleeping the whole game and just decided to wake up with the crowd in the ninth."
Mookie Betts greeted Colome with a single in the ninth, and then Colome walked Andrew Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez followed with an RBI single. Still, the Rays looked like they might escape after J.D. Martinez grounded into a 6-3 double play. But Xander Bogaerts doubled off the Green Monster, just out of left fielder Mallex Smith's reach, to drive home the tying run and send the game into extra innings.
"I should have [caught it]," Smith said. "It hit my glove. Just the tip of it. Maybe if I have a little more room, I can reach back a little more and it falls in."
Colome was not available for comment after the game.
Ramirez finished off the comeback with an RBI single off Ryan Yarbrough in the bottom of the 12th to give the Red Sox the thrilling comeback while sending the Rays to their sixth consecutive loss.
"Yonny Chirinos, that was fun to sit there and watch him go through a good Red Sox lineup, limit a lot of damage get a lot of weak contact," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We got the big hit by Duffy there and an inning later they tie it up to get some momentum. And it became challenging after that."
Duffy allowed that every team will go through tough stretches, but, he added, "Good teams stop the bleeding."
"And that's kind of what we have to do here," Duffy said. "We have to do it pretty quick. We're in a really tough division against some really tough teams. And most of the games against the Red Sox have been close ballgames, but we have to find ways to come out on top."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A close call: The Red Sox almost won the game in the ninth on a Jackie Bradley Jr. grounder toward the middle. Second baseman Daniel Robertson ranged over to field and opted to throw across his body to first rather than to try for the force at second. Bradley came close to beating the throw. But the call on the field by first-base umpire Alan Porter was that Bradley was out, and after a video review, the call stood, meaning there wasn't evidence conclusive enough to overturn it.
"The way my momentum was going toward the mound, it was just a lot to think about to try to get my body in position to flip back to second," Robertson said. "First instinct was to throw across my body to first, and we were lucky to get him. ... When I saw [the replay on board] I was just like, 'Inconclusive.' There wasn't enough to overturn it. [First baseman] Brad [Miller] did a great job picking that ball."
Duffy's go-ahead blast: Duffy missed all of 2017 with a heel injury, which made his first home run of the season a milestone of sorts. The Rays' third baseman had not homered since Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. The blast off a 92-mph sinker from Smith gave the Rays a 2-0 lead, and also gave Duffy his first career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later.
"[The home run] felt good, but, obviously, you go through a game like that, you want to come out and win," Duffy said.
"If you're on the team you have to be able to [handle it]. … I'm not diminishing the spot. It's a challenge for any pitcher, especially a guy that's thrown four innings [in the Major Leagues]. The trust that we have in him, the confidence he has, the approach that he takes, we were confident he would be able to get through that." -- Cash, on bringing Yarbrough in during the Red Sox's 12th-inning rally
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
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