Game 87: Red Sox 3, Rays 1 (44-43)
The Red Sox started off the second-half on the right foot, defeating the Rays 3-1 to move to 43-42 on the season.
Game MVP: Franklin Morales, .215.
Least valuable Sox: Mauro Gomez, -.112.
Most valuable Ray: Ben Zobrist, .178.
Least valuable Ray: B.J. Upton, -.211.
1st (BOS): Ortiz hits a solo homer to put BOS up 1-0, .117.
2nd (BOS): Ciriaco singles in two to extend BOS’s lead to 3-0, .136.
Franklin Morales / Jeremy Hellickson
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Mauro Gomez, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mike Aviles, SS
Pedro Ciriaco, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez a late scratch, due to the same illness that kept him out leading into the All-Star break. In his stead, Mauro Gomez took over at first-base, but in a questionable move by manager Bobby Valentine, Gomez also slotted into Gonzalez’s spot in the batting order, hitting cleanup.
In four plate appearances, Gomez struck out swinging twice and also twice grounded into inning-ending plays with the bases loaded. The Rays walked David Ortiz to load the bases twice in order to get to Gomez, including one instance in which first base wasn’t even open.
Update: Gonzo actually sat out the game with a stiff back, not believed to a serious.
The Red Sox will temporarily stick with a six-man rotation. Clay Buchholz rejoins the team tomorrow to start in the second of a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, Franklin Morales continued a strong case to be the team’s fifth starter when they decide to return to the normal five-man rotation.
Morales worked five scoreless innings of two hit ball, walking three batters and striking out five. He ran into trouble with two outs in the fourth inning, walking two batters, balking them over, and then walking another to load the bases. But given the opportunity to stay in the game — something he wouldn’t have gotten as a reliever — Morales came through, striking out Luke Scott on a pair of high fastballs, ratcheting up to 95-96 mph in the sequence.
In something of a reoccurring theme, Will Middlebrooks left the game in the bottom of the eight inning. He grounded out to the pitcher in the top of the inning before being removed.
Middlebrooks missed a number of games heading into the All-Star break with a tight hamstring, an injury that also bothered him in early May. We’ll await word, but it might be a sign that he could have used a few more days off.
Update: Middlebrooks was pulled as precaution by manager Bobby Valentine in order to avoid a possible injury, not because of an injury. Certainly a strange move, though maybe not a bad one.
Pedro Ciriaco continued his streak of magic, going 3 for 3 and knocking in what would prove to be the winning run(s) in the second inning. In the game, he singled three times, including one infield single, and successfully bunted a runner over to third in the bottom of the ninth. On the season, Ciriaco is now 10 for 18, including two doubles. His production is riding on an insane (and completely unsustainable) .714 batting average on balls in play, but it’s a fun ride for now.
Jacoby Ellsbury marked his return by going 1 for 5 at the plate, the lone hit coming on a weak single to right field. He looked a little rusty, striking out swinging in two of his plate appearances, but that much is to be expected after a three month layoff. It was just nice to see him back in action.