ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays 10-game home stand started off with so much promise.
The Rays (52-72) swept the San Diego Padres and took two of three from the American-League leading Texas Rangers. But now, the league’s top scoring team, the Boston Red Sox, have already taken the first two games in a four-game series from the Rays, including Tuesday’s close 2-1 loss in front go 11,249 at Tropicana Field.
“Tight ballgame and we always talk about tight ballgames and how the separator is probably how you limit your mistakes,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We had a couple of mistakes that cost us.”
Down 2-1 in the eighth inning, the Kevin Kiermaier came to bat with one out and sent a ball to the back of the Rays bullpen. The speedster tried to stretch an easy double to a triple, but Mookie Betts threw out the centerfielder on a one-hop throw.
“Just kind of in shock over there at third base how I got thrown out,” Kiermaier said. “I watched the video after the game, and saw he made an absolutely perfect throw. I always want to put pressure on the defense, and its going to take a perfect throw to throw me out. … I would not change anything. I’d do it again, so I tip my hat to him.”
“No doubt a great play by Betts,” Cash added. “We trust KK on the bases and it’s tough to argue when the guy does so much with his legs for us. In 20/20 hindsight, he stays (at second), but I don’t think there’s too much fault there.”
Betts said he was surprised to throw out Kiermaier.
“Well, yes and no,” Betts said. “Yes, because it was on target, but no, because I didn’t really know I could do that. We were all pretty surprised.”
“He threw a strike from about 250 feet away,” Red Sox manager John Farrell added. “Cut down a potential tying run. Pitching and defense, that was the name of this one tonight.”
The Red Sox (71-54) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third when David Ortiz would drive in Andrew Benintendi with an RBI single. Ortiz then scored on a throwing error by Steven Souza, Jr. trying to throw out Ortiz at third off a Mookie Betts single.
“Obviously, in hindsight, I’d rather have not thrown it, or just thrown it to second,” Souza said. “I knew David Ortiz isn’t a very good runner, and I thought I could sneak one in there. It was a bad throw — it wasn’t near the base.”
Souza would later have a chance at redemption in the ninth. After Logan Morrison was hit by a pitch with two outs, Souza represented the winning run at the plate. But he would fly out to left field to end his night that included three strikeouts, as well.
“They got it in on me,” Souza added. “Just couldn’t come through tonight.”
Starter Clay Buchholz kept the Rays at bay for his 6.1 innings pitched Tuesday evening. He allowed a run on five hits, struck out nine and walked two.
“I’ve faced these guys a lot,” said Buchholz, who improves 6-3 in 12 career starts at Tropicana Field, “I got lucky with a couple of mistakes they fouled off, but to get a ground ball double play (from Tim Beckham in the sixth) when I needed it really helped.”
Kiermaier would account for the Rays lone run thanks to an RBI double in the fifth that would score Corey Dickerson.
Archer takes another loss
Starter Chris Archer was dealt his league-leading 17th loss Tuesday after pitching for just five innings, allowing a run on five hits, striking out six and walking two batters. The Red Sox worked long at bats that ran up Archer’s pitch count (109).
“Looking at the whole scheme of things,” Archer said, “they’re number one in every single category in the major leagues for a reason. But Buchholz has had some success against us, and he looked like he was executing at a very high level as well.”
Beckham leaves game
After hitting into a double play in the sixth, SS Tim Beckham was pulled from the game due to tightness in his hamstring. Beckham, the 2008 No. 1 overall pick, said he was being cautious as to not end up on the DL again.
“I just didn’t want it to get any worse,” he added.
Also, in the fourth, after Beckham singled, he was picked off by Buchholz. The play was initially challenged by the Red Sox and ultimately overturned after a 58-second review.
“That was just a mistake on my part,” Beckham said.
RHP Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.22) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.66)
LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-2, 2.23) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-5, 3.63)
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