Rays Swept!!! Make that 11 straight wins..
The Boston Red Sox have swept the Tampa Bay Rays punching their ticket to a guaranteed playoff spot. This sweep also brings the AL East magic number down to only 2. Sox kept the engine running after leaving Baltimore and just cruised past the Rays.
Game 1. Drew Pomeranz was on the mound, attempting to bounce back from his last rough start, and he did just that, going 5 innings and holding Tampa Bay to just one run. Chris Archer was on the mound for Tampa Bay, and he got a nice going away gift, in the 1st, from David Ortiz. With Mookie Betts on first base, Chris Archer made the mistake of leaving a hanging fastball over the plate, Big Papi then went on to obliterate the ball, it was hit so hard and so high it struck a catwalk hanging from the Tropicana Field roof and fell behind the right field seats. This was the only real offense for the Sox but it turned out to be more then enough with another great outting by the bull pen.
Game 2. Rick Porcello had a “bad” outting going only 6.1 innings, allowing 8 hits, 3 earned runs all in the 3rd and 9 Ks. Yes, that was sarcasm, cause this is what normal pitchers do. Porcello did need some come from behind help though. In the 4th Hanley Ramirez singled in Betts, who had recorded his 26th stolen base of the year. The comeback was completed in the 7th, when Dustin Pedroia with the bases loaded stepped up to the plate. Dusty had hit a small slump after catching fire in early September, so he decided to end it in a grand way, by launching the 8th pitch of the at bat into the left field seats. This gave The Lazer show his 4th career grandslam and his second on the season. This gave the Sox the lead and eventually Porcello’s 22nd win of the season, most by a Sox starter since Pedro Martinez in 1999 when he had 23.
Game 3. Had some great pitching by the Sox staff. Eduardo Rodriguez was a strikeout machine, recording a career high 13 Ks, 10 of his last 11 outs were by way of the K, including the last 7 he recorded. E-Rod also notched himself into the record books along with reliever Heath Hembree, the two combined to strikout 11 consecutive batters, most ever by a team in MLB history. The previous owners of the record were the Mets when Tom Seaver Struckout 10 straight, on April 22nd 1970. The Sox had their fair share of problems at the plate as well, even after the record being set, the Sox only had a 2-1 lead which was lost in the 8th, giving Rodriguez a no decision. Pedroia was the hero all night long, he hit his 15th homerun of the season in the 1st for the early lead. He then won the game in the 10th with some slippery base running. He avoided Tampa catcher Luke Maile’s initial tag, when trying to score off of Ortiz’s double, Pedroia’s momentum carried him past the plate, as he went back to touch home plate the ball dropped out of Maile’s glove trying to go for the tag again. The baseball Gods have been all Red Sox this final month.
This series had allot of things, but what stuck out to me the most was the love David Ortiz recieved from the Tropicana fans. All three games had standing ovations for every at bat, chants of “papi” could be heard, and Dominican flags waving all around. He rewarded his loyal Tampa Bay fans by having them be witnesses to setting the most RBIs in a final season, which was previously held by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1920. Ortiz has always loved playing at Tropicana Field, the numbers below will show you just how much he loved it.
Ortiz was given a farewell tour gift from the Rays, an oil painting of his 500th career homerun which he hit in Tampa. All of this was done behind closed doors however, after Ortiz requested the larger ceremony be canceled in respects to the sudden death of Miami phenom Jose Fernandez, whom he had gotten quite close with. This series really just summed up the type of player and person Big Papi is, an amazing ball player, beloved by all, yet humble enough to take a backseat to pay respects to a fellow ballplayer and friend.
The Sox take on the Yankees next in a three game set to play in Ortiz’s final series ever, in the Bronx