Game 124: Tampa Bay Rays at Red Sox (August 18, 2018)

Earlier in the season, the Rays had played the Red Sox very tough and shown that they were not an easy team to face despite their record. As the season has gone on, however, the Red Sox have beaten up on them more and more to the point that it basically feels like an automatic win every time they play them. (I realize a large reason for this is the number of good players Tampa has traded in the last year). In this second game of the series Boston had David Price going up against the team he made his major league debut with. Given how well he's been pitching lately, it looked like it should be another win the Sox should easily cruise to.

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Unlike the previous night where the Rays jumped to the early lead before the Sox stormed back, in this game Boston flipped the script. Mitch Moreland continued to swing a good bat when he doubled and drove in Andrew Benintendi in the bottom of the first. Ian Kinsler then walked with the bases loaded to bring in another run before Brock Holt reached on a fielding error which allowed both JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts to score. At he end of one inning it was 4-0 Red Sox and they never looked back. JD added to his major league home run lead by belting his 38th of the season in the third to make it 5-0. The Rays picked up their only runs in the sixth inning when CJ Cron hit a two-run home run to help Tampa avoid the shutout. Price was excellent, though, and those were the only runs he allowed in his seven innings of work. For the game he gave up five hits and struck out eight while only walking two. Ryan Brasier worked a clean eighth and Craig Kimbrel earned his 37th save of the season to lock down the win. The Sox were actually outhit in this game 5-4, but their hits did more damage and they were able to take advantage of that Tampa Bay error.

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With the unexpected news that Chris Sale would again be going on the 10-day DL with mild shoulder inflammation, his start in the series finale Sunday afternoon will be taken by Hector Velazquez. I'm not too worried about what it means for this series or even necessarily the final month of the season, but I'm starting to get a little concerned as to what it might mean for October. The Red Sox are a very deep and talented team, but they need Chris Sale to be healthy and at his best if they're going to make any noise on the way to the World Series. Hopefully it's just another precautionary measure but it'll bear close scrutiny as the season starts to wind down. 

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