Rays rally late, but fall short in Fenway finale
BOSTON -- Even the Rays' Patriots' Day mojo wore off in the midst of the team's current tailspin.
Boston took a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Monday at Fenway Park with 37,449 watching on Jackie Robinson Day, which turned into a notorious day given the explosion that took place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon shortly after the game concluded.
After the media left the Rays' clubhouse, the team dressed prior to heading for Baltimore while monitoring the news about the tragedy that occurred within walking distance of Fenway Park.
Rays ace David Price expressed his concern on Twitter with this message: "I hope everyone that was at the marathon is OK ...very scary that stuff like that happens ... please keep them in your prayers."
Outfielder Sam Fuld also tweeted with the following: "Hope everyone is okay at the marathon. Scary."
Entering Monday's contest, the Rays had never lost against the Red Sox in three games taking place on Patriots' Day.
"We had a chance there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "All good things must come to an end at some point. Hopefully they'll invite us back next year and we can get back to our winning ways."
Tampa Bay is now 1-5 on the current three-city road trip after suffering its third consecutive defeat while falling to 4-8 on the season.
After Tampa Bay scored a run in the the top of the ninth to tie the score at 2, Dustin Pedroia drew a one-out walk from Joel Peralta in the bottom half of the inning to start the Boston rally.
Mike Napoli followed with a double off the Green Monster to give the Red Sox the walk-off win.
Peralta tipped his cap to Napoli for how the slugger handled his splitter.
"He reached for it," Peralta said. "It was down and away in the corner, where I wanted it. He got it, you know. Good for him. It was a good pitch."
Initially it appeared that the Rays had a chance to get Pedroia at the plate. In order to do so, left fielder Matt Joyce would have needed to make a flawless play. That did not happen.
"Obviously the ball was going to be off the wall, so I tried to take the best angle to it," Joyce said. "It's just one of those things where you kind of rush and can't get it out of your glove as fast as you want. When that tends to happen, you try to force the issue and the throw goes a little high. It's tough for that to happen in that circumstance. Especially with the way things have been going. It [stinks], but we have another game tomorrow and we have to have a short-term memory."
Boston got busy shortly after the 11:05 a.m. ET start. Jacoby Ellsbury tripled off Jeremy Hellickson to start the Boston first, and scored when Shane Victorino grounded to second to put the Red Sox up, 1-0.
Evan Longoria answered in the fourth when he hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot with two outs off Ryan Dempster that tied the score at 1.
Longoria's home run ended a drought of 219 Rays at-bats without a home run since Kelly Johnson homered in the Rays' fifth game of the season, a drought that lasted eight days, 15 hours and 23 minutes.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia put the Red Sox back on top when he led off the fifth with a solo home run to right off Hellickson.
Tampa Bay threatened in the sixth with two outs and runners at the corners when Longoria hit a shot through the middle that Stephen Drew dove for and caught. The Red Sox shortstop got to his feet and fired a strike to first. First-base umpire Angel Hernandez called Longoria out, prompting Longoria to slam his helmet on the ground.
Though replays validated that Longoria had indeed been safe, the Rays' rally failed to yield any runs.
Desmond Jennings started a ninth-inning rally for the Rays with a leadoff single off Andrew Bailey before stealing second. Ben Zobrist followed with a single to left that drove home Jennings with the tying run. Zobrist moved to second on the throw to the plate.
Zobrist's hit ended a streak in which the Rays had gone 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position.
Unfortunately for the Rays, Longoria struck out while trying to check his swing for the first out, Joyce struck out looking and Ryan Roberts popped out to second to end the threat.
"In the ninth there, I had another opportunity to move Zo, get him over to third and give the next guy a chance with a runner at third and less than two outs," Longoria said. "Even I need to be able to do that if I'm not going to come up and hit a home run or get a base hit. At the very least, I have to be able to move those guys and give the next guy in line a chance."
Red Sox manager John Farrell pointed to Bailey's work after blowing the save as the key to the Red Sox win.
"Bailey does a great job of shutting it off right there to keep it tied, and much like we've seen in a number of games already in the early part of the season, we continue to grind away," Farrell said. "Mike gets a breaking ball up in the zone and Pedey, who has such a feel on the basepaths, there was no hesitation on his part, scores from first on a double."
Maddon has preached about the dangers of falling too far behind in the American League East given the depth of the division.
"I mean, I don't like it right now," Maddon said. "Even four games back right now is not very fun. But I'm not overly concerned. … Being at the bottom of the whole group is not fun. But I do have confidence we'll be able to dig our way out of it."