Boston Red Sox Game Recap: April 17, 2017 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

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Recap Fenway

The Red Sox played their traditional Patriots’ Day game at 11:05 AM against the Tampa Bay Rays with knuckleballer Steven Wright taking the hill for Boston and lefty Blake Snell pitching for the Rays.

Tampa Bay started things quickly with Corey Dickerson slapping a single into right field. Wright appeared to get two-hole hitter Kevin Kiermaier out on a pop out to foul territory, but third baseman Marco Hernandez muffed the grab and the ball fell harmlessly into the stands. Kiermaier made Hernandez’s error sting when he laced a line-drive single up the middle, and Evan Longoria compounded the pain with a single of his own to load the bases. Brad Miller then hit a slow roller that took Wright off the mound, leading to the pitcher fielding the ball and tagging Miller for the first out while the first run scored from third. With men on second and third, Steven Souza hit a bounding ground ball down the third-base line, forcing Hernandez to throw Souza out at first while Kiermaier scored to give the Rays a 2-0 advantage. Wright would limit the damage to two runs after walking Logan Morrison on four pitches by striking out Rickie Weeks.

The Red Sox responded quickly as Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles. Mookie Betts then hit into a double play, erasing Benintendi from the basepaths and moving Pedroia to third. Hanley Ramirez stroked an RBI single to the opposite field, driving in Pedroia and bringing the score to 2-1 Rays. Xander Bogaerts then popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison to end the first inning.

After Wright pitched around a Derek Norris leadoff double in the top of the second, Snell appeared to be establishing himself with consecutive strikeouts of Mitch Moreland and Chris Young. Sandy Leon had a different idea though, as the catcher notched his first hit in 11 at-bats with a line-drive single up the middle. Hernandez then appeared to end the inning with a grounder to shortstop Tim Beckham, but second baseman Brad Miller dropped the feed and kept the inning alive. Snell then walked Pedroia to load the bases, prompting a visit from pitching coach Jim Hickey. Whatever Hickey said did not do the trick, as Benintendi hit a sinking line drive into center field, scoring Leon and Hernandez to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. With runners on first and second, Betts hit a single through the left side of the infield that scored Pedroia. Snell then walked Ramirez before retiring Bogaerts on strikes to keep the score at 4-2 Red Sox.

Both pitchers would settle down, trading zeroes over the next three innings. After Wright tossed a scoreless top of the sixth inning, Snell was lifted from the game in favor of righty Tommy Hunter. The lefty threw five innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out five. Hunter allowed a leadoff single by Young, but quickly erased the baserunner on a pickoff that caught Young leaning the wrong way. Hunter then sat down Leon and Hernandez to end the sixth inning.

The Red Sox knuckleballer was replaced in the top of the seventh by Robbie Ross Jr. after surrendering a leadoff single to Beckham. Wright scattered eight hits and a walk over six innings plus a batter. Neither of the Rays’ runs were earned so Wright lowered his season ERA to 7.71 from 13.50. Dickerson greeted Ross with an automatic double down the third-base line and into the stands. With men on second and third, Ross struck out both Kiermaier and Miller while sandwiching an Evan Longoria intentional walk in between the two outs.

Righty Ben Taylor then entered the game to face Souza and allowed a RBI single that cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3 before ending the inning on Morrison fly out to right field.

The bullpens then quieted the bats with Chase Whitley throwing two scoreless innings for the Rays and Heath Hembree tossing a scoreless eighth inning before closer Craig Kimbrel came in for his sixth save of the season, and his third in three days. The veteran closer struck out the side in dominant fashion in the top of the ninth, giving Boston their third win in a row and improving their record to 8-5.

Boston will head north of the border on Tuesday to face the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:07 PM. The Red Sox have called up lefty Brian Johnson for a spot start as Eduardo Rodriguez is on paternity leave, while Toronto counters with Marcus Stroman.


Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges

Featured image courtesy of Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau

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