A relatively refreshing rubber match. After 18 combined runs in the first game, 11 combined runs in the second game, the Red Sox out-pitched the Rays in to take the 2-1 win, winning their eighth game against the team from the gulf.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: Escaping by the skin of their fingers. The rotation in this series should have gone 0-3, considering they combined for 12 walks in three starts. Alfredo Aceves somehow gave up only one run, which came on an Evan Longoria solo home run, despite walking four batters over six innings. The Rays did the Red Sox a lot of favors, going 6-for-31 with runners in scoring position. Not beating yourself starts with not walking batters, and remarkably the Red Sox have avoided a lot of jams despite leading the league in pitching walks with 249 free passes.
Second Base: John Ryder of WEEI brought up an interesting question to Daniel Nava in his postgame interview on Wednesday: do you think you’re an all-star? Nava was unassuming, giving Ryder a spiel about being a team player (a spiel only because it was an expected answer). Is he an All-Star though? He is hitting .299, he has hit nine home runs, he driven in 44 RBI, and he has gotten on base a lot. A 25th man candidate? He could be a nice surprise…
Third Base: The only other way that Jacoby Ellsbury could be streaking more than he is now is if he took off all his close before he bolts for second base. He not only has at least one stolen base in six of his last seven games, but also has an eleven game hitting streak going as well. What’s even better? with his two walks tonight, he has pushed his on base percentage over .350 for the first time this season. Contract motivation? Who cares! Keep streaking, Ells!
Home Plate: Speaking of people who just won’t stop, Mike Carp just won’t stop hitting. With his 2-for-4 night on Wednesday, he now has boosted his June average to .452 – that includes three home runs and two doubles. How can you sit him? Well, you just don’t. The Red Sox might not face a left-handed pitcher until Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore comes to town, so as long as there is righty is throwing bait, let Carp keep pulling them into the water.
Beyond the Diamond… Despite the fact that Aceves snuck out of a bad outing today, he deserves a second chance in the big leagues. Remember, he came over from the Yankees as a long reliever, so why not use him as one now? Clayton Mortensen, the designated long reliever, is “out” with a groin injury, John Farrell and Ben Cherrington might as well keep Aceves up and use him as a spot starter. With Clay Buchholz (trapezius) still a question mark (do you think that’s how he was sitting in his chair with his kid?), Aceves might as well stick around as an insurance policy. Let’s call it, Acevesurance.
(Photos Courtesy of Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)