After getting off to a slow 1-5 start to the 2012 season, the Red Sox have found their groove against the Tampa Bay Rays. Detroit and Toronto were unkind to the Sox pitching staff, either the rotation or bullpen, and when the pitching was there, the offense couldn’t get it going. During the Rays series, the Sox have been playing well at both. They won the first three games of the series and have one more to play this afternoon.
Beckett pitched in the home opener and did exactly what he had to in order to get back into Sox fans’ good graces. He went eight innings, allowing only one run, and probably could have gone out in the ninth if his teammates hadn’t taken so long to add eight runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. They won the game 12-2, but lost Jacoby Ellsbury for an indefinite amount of time with a dislocated shoulder.
The next game, Clay Buchholz did not match Beckett’s success, but pitched well enough to keep the Sox in the game and allow the offense to do its thing. They won 13-5 due mostly in part to the five home runs that came from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles, Cody Ross, and David Ortiz who has been playing incredibly.
Felix Doubront got off to a good start in the third game and the Sox gave him a 3-0, then 4-0 lead until the fifth when Doubront was touched for three runs. The Rays tied the game in the sixth, but Papi continued his tear and gave the Sox a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh, Mike Aviles was looking comfortable in the lead-off spot and hit his second home run of the season to make the score 6-4. Alfredo Aceves came in to close the game and shut the Rays down.
The Red Sox have not done well against the Rays the past couple of seasons and in this tough AL East Division, many around baseball were questioning how far the Sox could go to be able to compete with the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays. This series is one of many against the East throughout the season, but it’s great for the Red Sox to win at least three out of four games against the Rays in order to set the tone that they won’t go down quietly. Let’s hope the offense and pitching stays hot so they can gain momentum, have a great season, and get back into the playoffs to prove everyone wrong.