Tampa Bay’s bull pen has no answer for the Sox in-form line-up.
The Boston Red Sox got the early upper hand in their Major League Baseball playoff series with Tampa Bay, breezing to a 12-2 victory on Friday at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox used 7 2/3 terrific innings from left-handed starting pitcher Jon Lester and an offensive blitz at the plate in front of a crowd of 38,177 to easily win the opener of their best-of-five American League series.
Lester surrendered solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist that staked Tampa Bay to a 2-0 lead but that was short-lived. Lester yielded just one other hit and three walks before exiting to a boisterous ovation with two outs in the eighth.
He got plenty of support from his teammates, with the AL East champs hammering Rays starter Matt Moore for eight runs and eight hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work. Moore threw a two-hit shutout at Fenway Park on July 22
Jarrod Saltalamacchia finished two-for-four with three RBI, Shane Victorino drove in two runs on a three-for-four outing and Jonny Gomes producing a two-run double as every Red Sox regular earned at least one hit.
Tampa Bay, who have scored first in each of its last 13 games, prevailed in elimination games in three different cities over the last five days.
The Rays will seek to regroup behind 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price in Saturday’s game two. John Lackey gets the starting nod for the Red Sox.
“We’ve not been making any mistakes,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “We made a bunch tonight. We’re normally not the team that makes those kind of mistakes.”
It all unravelled for the Rays in the fourth inning when Boston scored five runs.
“It gave them the momentum,” said Tampa’s Wil Myers.
Moore had held the Boston hitless until Dustin Pedroia belted a leadoff single with the Rays down 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
David Ortiz then lobbed a fly ball to centre field that dropped between Myers and Desmond Jennings and took a hop into the bullpen, putting the tying runs in scoring position with none out.
Gomes then clubbed a double high off the Green Monster outfield wall that scored two runs and tied the score. Two batters later, Stephen Drew beat Moore to the bag on a grounder to first base. Gomes seized that moment to charge home from second to give the Red Sox the lead.
Will Middlebrooks followed with a double to left that scored Drew for a 4-2 lead. Victorino hit an opposite-field single that scored Middlebrooks for the Red Sox’ fifth run and a commanding lead.