Game 49: Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (May 23, 2018)

It was an incredibly busy night for us: after work, I took my oldest daughter to a tryout for a new travel team, my wife took our youngest daughter to her game, and both the Red Sox and Celtics were playing. I managed to listen to most of the first half of the Celtics game in the car and watched most of the second half at home. As for the Red Sox, I was able to follow the game updates on my phone from the softball field and caught the last two innings on TV once we got home. Luckily what I saw was the most exciting and important part of the game!

There wasn't much scoring in this game until the very end. Hanley Ramirez put the Sox on the board in the sixth inning when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Fortunately there weren't any outs so Christian Vazquez was able to score to make it 1-0 Red Sox. The Rays immediately got that run back in the bottom of the inning when CJ Cron doubled off of David Price and drove Denard Span in. This hearkened back to last season when it seemed as though every time the Sox took a lead in a game, they immediately coughed it up in the following half-inning. As for Price in this game, he was decent going six innings and only giving up the one run on three hits. He struck out nine and only walked three and continued to look very good. I'm hoping that the struggles he had in between his good start to the season and his last few starts were just a bump in the road, but with this guy you never know. I'll need to see several more good starts and some overall consistency in his performance before I can make that judgment on a more permanent basis.

It seemed like we were headed to extra innings until the top of the ninth when the Sox exploded for three runs. It was Xander Bogaerts who got it started when he hit an RBI double to drive JD Martinez home. Later, Eduardo Nunez hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive Xander in and move Rafael Devers over to third. Finally, a passed ball during Jackie Bradley's at bat allowed Devers to score and just like that, it was 4-1 Sox. Craig Kimbrel earned his 15th save of the season by throwing a strong bottom of the ninth, striking out two and not allowing any hits or walks. Combined with the Yankees loss, the win put the Red Sox 1 1/2 games ahead of New York in the division.  It was a quiet offensive night for both teams, with the Sox only getting five hits to the Rays' three. Mookie Betts went 0-2 but also walked twice. Surprisingly, almost half of the Sox' hits in this game from the bottom two spots in the order as Bradley and Vazquez both went 1-4. 

Dare I hope that the Sox are carrying over the momentum from the Orioles series and are starting to get on another hot streak? I realize the competition hasn't been particularly good, but seeing the way they struggled with some bad teams throughout May (Oakland, anyone?) it's still encouraging. After wrapping up this series with the Rays, the Sox head back home to take on the surprisingly hot Braves and then the Blue Jays before heading to Houston to face the defending champion Astros. It should be a fun stretch of games and a good test to see if the consistently strong play of April is truly back.