Newly acquired Red Sox ace David Price seemed to be the solution to all of Boston’s starting pitching problems, but so far this season he’s only contributed.
After the Red Sox jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first inning, it appeared Price would have all the run support he needed, but the Tampa Bay bats were about to come to life. The Rays tacked on 6 runs in the fourth to claim an 8-5 lead, chasing Price after just 3.2 innings. By the time the book had closed on Price, the ace was charged for 8 runs, all earned, on 8 hits, running his ERA to 7.06 in his first four starts.
The Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and one more in the seventh to tie the game, but questionable decisions by manager John Farrell on relief pitching saw the lead slip away in the eighth and ninth. Down by just a run entering the top of the seventh, Farrell turned to reliever William Cuevas, making his major league debut. Cuevas held the Rays scoreless in his first inning in relief, allowing the Red Sox to tie the game in the bottom of the frame, but Farrell left Cuevas in the game for the eighth, and the Rays took advantage, grabbing a 9-8 lead. Cuevas again came out for the ninth, the Red Sox still in striking distance, and the rookie allowed a lead-off double to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Kiermaier to third, Cuevas was relieved by, of all people, Noe Ramirez, a struggling right-hander and one of the Boston bullpen’s weakest links. Tampa jumped all over Ramirez, pushing their lead to 12-8 by the inning’s end.
The loss drops the Red Sox to 7-8 on the season, and finishes the team’s first homestand of the season at 4-6, a mark unacceptable considering the amount of talent on this team from top to bottom. On days when the bats come to life, the pitching struggles, but when the pitching is on its game, the offense can’t push across any offense. The team has yet to click this season and the excuse of “oh, it’s early,” is getting way too familiar.
Tied entering the eighth inning, the Red Sox’s top two relievers, Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara, were never even asked to warm up to potentially maintain the tied game. Farrell seemed all too concerned with future games and getting his relief pitchers rest rather than winning the game at hand, something that the Boston sports media will pick apart in days to come. Although early in the season, it seems the Red Sox have let a few of these games slip away already this season, and there are small grumblings of a potential coaching change coming.
The Red Sox now go on a 5-game road trip with a 3-game set in Houston starting Friday night, followed by a brief 2-gamer in Atlanta against the Braves. The team will return to Boston on Wednesday for two more against the Braves. Tickets to that game, and all other 2016 Red Sox games at Fenway Park are available HERE.