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Red Sox Beat The First-Place Rays Thanks To Back-To-Back Homers, But Lose Nathan Eovaldi To The IL

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

We can’t have nice things this year, apparently.

On Friday night, the Red Sox opened up a three-game series with the Rays down in St. Petersburg having not won a series yet this season. When you’re facing the best team in the American League at the moment, it’s hard to imagine having much success down there the way that this season has gone so far, and it looked like that trend would continue when Eduardo Rodriguez gave up a bomb to the red hot Brandon Lowe, followed by an RBI triple to Avisail Garcia the following inning.

The Red Sox battled back, though, something that they’ve been known to do when the game isn’t 8-0 in the third inning or something in that area. Rafael Devers doubled in a run in the fifth before Christian Vazquez launched a two-run shot to center. As we all expected coming into 2019, Vazquez is on pace to hit 32 homers and drive in 81 runs. Can always pencil him in for 30 and 80 every year. Consistency shouldn’t always be expected, but it’s certainly appreciated.

With nobody out in the sixth inning, Mookie Betts doubled down the line to break an 0-for-12 slump and came in to score when JD Martinez lined a base hit into right-center to make it 4-2. That pair of runs would be given right back in the bottom half when Rodriguez allowed a lead off base hit to Austin Meadows, who has been hitting the shit out of the ball this year, and a Devers error put runners on first and second for Daniel Robertson who doubled in both runs to tie the game.

I tweeted something like, I can’t even be mad that the Red Sox blew the lead because I was happy that they even had one in the first place. That’s how miserable this season has been and how low my expectations were for this team playing against the best team in the league. To my surprise, this wasn’t the beginning of the end for Boston at the Trop. In the eighth inning, Betts finally looked to resume his MVP form by torching a go-ahead homer to dead center, as Mitch Moreland pissed on a 1-1 sinker to go back-to-back.

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After the series finale in the Bronx, I talked about how the Red Sox bullpen really hasn’t been much of an issue this season after being the main storyline all spring, but that’s because they’ve yet to really be tested. They were tested on Wednesday and failed big time. On Friday, they were once again tested, tasked with protecting a two-run lead against the Rays in the eighth inning. Matt Barnes took care of the eighth, facing the minimum and punched out two, while Ryan Brasier came in to close this one out, allowing just one base runner on a hit by pitch, while punching out Michael Perez to end the game.

All things considered, there was a lot to like about this one. The biggest factor here is that Mookie is swingin’ it again. Outside of the starting pitchers figuring their shit out, Mookie getting hot is exactly what this team needs. When Mookie goes, the Red Sox go. Rodriguez didn’t pitch as poorly as his line suggested, and we can place some of the blame on that Devers error for the second pair of runs the lefty allowed. And then you have the combination of Barnes and Brasier getting the job done in the final two innings. That’s how you turn the page on the blunder in the Bronx.

On Saturday morning, though, we learned that the Red Sox will lose Nathan Eovaldi to the injured list with a loose body in his pitching elbow. Eovaldi had the same exact injury last season, undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in March to remove the loose bodies before returning in late May. Should the Red Sox lose Eovaldi for two months, as was the case last year, then Hector Velazquez figures to take his spot in the rotation. Another interesting name would be Gio Gonzalez, who is reportedly opting out of his contract with the Yankees if not added to their active roster, which he’s not expected to be.

Final score: Red Sox 6, Rays 4