In as lopsided a game as we’ll see all year, the Boston Red Sox went down big early and never had a chance to get back into it.
While the Red Sox could muster only one hit—a Jacoby Ellsbury infield hit that broke up Matt Garza’s perfect game bid in the seventh inning—the Rays pounded them into submission with 13 runs on 18 hits, the biggest contribution coming from Evan Longoria’s home run and four RBI.
Longoria smacked a bases-clearing double off Beckett in the third inning, then launched his sixth home run of the season off the catwalk in the sixth. He finished 3-for-5. Beckett threw 113 pitches, allowing seven runs and pitching only four-and-two-thirds innings.
It got so bad, that at one point manager Terry Francona sent outfielder Jonathan Van Every to the mound in the eighth to pitch in relief of Javier Lopez, who was rocked for four runs in just a third of an inning. Lopez briefly took over in right field for Van Every. In summoning Van Every to pitch, Francona was left in a spot where he had no other choice.
“First of all, I don’t like doing it,” Francona told Ian Browne of RedSox.com. “But I’m not going to let a pitcher get hurt. Javy had thrown three days in a row. I didn’t want to embarrass anybody. Certainly, we didn’t want to embarrass Javy. We’re just not going to hurt somebody like that. We’re already getting killed. It was a bad night.”
So how do the Red Sox bounce back from such a one-sided defeat? It will have to start with pitching. After three consecutive poor outings by Red Sox starters—Brad Penny, Jon Lester and Beckett combined to allow 16 runs in 13-1/3 innings—Justin Masterson will take the mound for the Red Sox Friday, looking to play the role of stopper.
Masterson (2-0) pitched brilliantly against the Yankees last Sunday under the national spotlight, allowing just one earned run on a sacrifice fly in five-and-one-third innings. Masterson threw 99 pitches, and will very likely be expected to throw over 100 tonight. He is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in his career at Tropicana Field.
Masterson will oppose Andy Sonnanstine, who is coming off a similar shellacking to the one Beckett received Thursday. Sonnanstine is 0-3 with a 7.78 ERA, and was tagged for seven runs in four innings last time out against Oakland. But after the way his team set the tone for the series Thursday, he has a good chance to bounce back.
It would come as little surprise to see the Red Sox re-call Michael Bowden from Pawtucket for some insurance in the bullpen. Francona was fortunate not to have to use Jonathan Papelbon, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen or Hideki Okajima Thursday.
But the Red Sox could still use another long-inning guy now that Hunter Jones has had to work hard to get through his last two outings, throwing 65 pitches in three-and-two-thirds innings.
Whether or not the Red Sox recover from last night’s debacle depends mainly on the pitching, but more than one hit would certainly be welcomed. The Rays have control of the series and momentum on their side, but will still need a bounce-back start from Sonnanstine. First pitch is at 7:38 PM.