What an ugly game, but a win is a win, right? I was coaching more travel baseball today but I got home in time to see the Red Sox go down into another early hole, this one 3-0 by the end of the fourth inning. Rick Porcello went 7.2 innings and struck out six without walking any, but was responsible for all three of those Rays runs including via his bugbear from last season, a home run. This one was a two-run shot from Denard Span. Luckily, JD Martinez was on fire today, driving in the first two Red Sox runs with a two RBI single in the sixth which was followed by a Jackie Bradley sacrifice fly to tie it up later that inning. A Sandy Leon RBI single in the eighth knocked in the go-ahead run and gave the Sox their first lead of the game, 4-3. Craig Kimbrel came on to get the save in the ninth and while it got dicey, he got out of it unscathed. The Rays had runners at first and second with no outs and managed to sacrifice bunt them over, but Kimbrel struck the next two Rays out to secure the save.
With the win, the Red Sox become the first team in the majors to twenty wins, but given how hot they started at 17-2, it feels (at least to me) like they should have hit that milestone a week ago. They've only gone 3-5 since that red hot start and while a lot of it has been down to how flukey baseball can sometimes be, there have been new concerns with the pitching (starters: David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and even Chris Sale; relievers: the ever-problematic middle relief) and the hitting (Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley's slow starts, the team in general going a bit cold at the plate starting with the no-hitter in Oakland). It was nice to see JD go 4-4 today and be locked in, but it seemed earlier in the season that everyone was hitting well and picking up guys who weren't, whereas lately the whole team has been in a slump. They've got another home series starting tomorrow with the Royals which should be a good chance to win some games before a long road trip that takes them to Texas, the Bronx, and Toronto (again). The Rays are the type of bad team the Sox are supposed to beat to pad their record and at least for this weekend's series, they didn't take advantage of that. That's just the way baseball goes sometimes. Tomorrow is a new day and a new series, though, so I'm hopeful they'll right the ship and get back on track before heading out on that tough road trip.