The Tampa Bay Rays continued their torrid pace last night, downing the Boston Red Sox 9-2. With the victory, the Rays pulled within 3 games of the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race.
The game seemed a bit uneven from the start, as AL Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson was facing off against rotation fill-in Kyle Weiland. Hellickson entered the game sporting a 2.96 ERA this season for the Rays while Weiland was making only his third Major League start.
Still, things remained even over the first two frames.
Tampa Bay finally broke through against Weiland in the 3rd. B.J. Upton sent a two out RBI single to shallow left field before Evan Longoria struck the game’s deciding blow. His 3 run shot was all the support Hellickson and the Rays pen would need.
Hellickson surrendered his only run in the bottom of the 3rd. The young right-hander logged 5.2 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits.
Weiland did not return for the 4th inning. Red Sox relievers Trever Miller and Scott Atchison managed to keep the game within 3 runs, but the Rays went on to break things wide open by 7th inning stretch. Casey Kotchman contributed 3 RBI’s and Upton added two more with a long home run to left.
Boston’s offense could only muster 6 hits on the evening, none of the extra base variety.
The Red Sox have now lost 7 of their last 8, their only win coming during their 18 run performance Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. If you take out that offensive outburst, Boston’s O has only put up 3 runs a game over their last 6.
The pitching hasn’t been much better. Boston’s staff has given up over 6.5 runs per game in August.
Boston will look to stop the bleeding tonight, hoping that Josh Beckett’s return helps the club curtail its recent slide.