This probably isn’t something you would expect to see after last year. For that matter, it’s something you probably didn’t expect to see after the first few games of this season. However, it’s time to believe the unbelievable, as the Boston Red Sox have somehow managed to sweep the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series.
Indeed, the Rays have now dropped their fourth straight game after losing to the Red Sox by a score of 9-2. Now at 2-4, the team finds themselves at dead last in the AL East. Of course, it’s only the beginning of a long season, but this loss should start to raise a few questions for the Rays and their fans. We will give some credit where it is due to the Red Sox, but the Rays should have without a doubt qualified as the better team on the field.
One team made the World Series last year, while the other had an identity crisis and one of their worst seasons in franchise history. So, just how did the Red Sox pull off this upset?
Red Sox Pitching Exceeds Expectations
It may sound ridiculous, but the Red Sox pitching rotation has yet to allow a home run. Despite getting swept by the Orioles, no one’s managed to get by the Pesky Pole or Green Monster except for the Red Sox themselves. Their pitching, while not necessarily always known to be their strong suit, was impressively good on Thursday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi got the start for the Sox, dominating from the top of the first to the seventh inning. The 31-year-old allowed three hits, one earned run, and three walks while tallying 7 strikeouts in his seven-inning performance. By the time Eovaldi stepped off the field in the later stages of the game, the Rays had found themselves in a 9-1 hole.
When asked about his strong performance, Eovaldi expressed excitement by stating “I didn’t have one pitch that wasn’t working.”
The veteran pitcher now has a 1.46 ERA over his first two starts, establishing this year as arguably the best beginning to any season of his career.
Ryan Yarbrough’s Strong Start Overshadowed By Disappointing 4th and 5th Innings
As one would expect, Ryan Yarbrough came into Wednesday’s game with confidence after his performance against Miami. The lefty pitcher pitched 5.2 shutout innings en route to a 6-4 win over Miami last week. Consequently, it came as no surprise after Yarbrough held the Red Sox to only two hits through the first three innings.
However, fate took a turn for the worse, as Yarbrough watched his pitching world fall apart in the fourth. Starting with a leadoff walk from Rafael Devers and ending with a Christian Vazquez home run, the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-1 advantage by the conclusion of the inning.
Things did not improve in the 5th, as the Red Sox produced a six-run scoring explosion. As a result, Yarbrough was ousted from the game, finishing his afternoon with nine allowed hits and runs apiece.
J. D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Christian Vazquez Prove To Be Much To Handle For the Rays
Although Yarbrough disappointed during the middle innings of Wednesday’s game, the Red Sox hitting deserves some credit too. For starters, starting shortstop Xander Bogaerts cashed in three hits and one RBI, rounding the bases on two different occasions in the process.
Christian Vazquez, meanwhile, continued to inflict pain into the hearts of Rays fans in the aftermath of Tuesday’s game. As stated earlier, the veteran catcher hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the 4th, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the afternoon. When everything was said and done, Vazquez tallied two hits and three RBI’s during the game’s course.
Last but certainly not least, J.D. Martinez continued to act as a major disruptor for the Rays pitching rotation. The Red Sox outfielder tallied one hit and two RBI’s, with his one blast to the outfield going for a double. Now, he leads the league in doubles with six on the season.
In conclusion, a large number of factors resulted in the Rays ultimate downfall against the Red Sox. With a few struggles pitching-wise and Red Sox hitters playing ruthlessly, this game may have been doomed from the start. Luckily, the Rays can recover and rebound during their day off on Thursday. This should give the defending AL Champs time to reflect on the beginning of their season and prepare for the challenging road ahead.
As for the next game, the Rays will face the Yankees at 3:10 PM EST on Friday, April 9th, in what will be the team’s home opener.