BOSTON (CBS) – The big question heading into Friday afternoon’s ALDS opener between Boston and Tampa Bay was simple: “How will the Red Sox handle facing Matt Moore?”
The answer came resoundingly in the bottom of the fourth: hard, often and relentlessly.
The Red Sox capitalized on a major miscue by Wil Myers in the fourth inning, using it to help open up a five-run inning and take a lead they’d never relinquish.
Thanks to an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning from Jon Lester in the top of the fifth, the Boston bats kept it rolling in the bottom of the inning by tacking on three more runs, and the rest was just details. The Sox walked away with a 12-2 victory.
The Key Moment
After Dustin Pedroia smoked a single up the middle to lead off the fourth, David Ortiz stepped into the batter’s box and launched a deep, high fly ball that looked on television like it was heading for the Prudential Tower. It didn’t quite make it that far. In fact, it didn’t even make it to the wall.
However, rookie Wil Myers heard someone call him off as he settled underneath the fly ball at the base of the warning track, and he bailed on the ball at the very last moment. Center fielder Desmond Jennings stared at Myers, who clearly suffered a pretty severe brain cramp at a pretty bad time.
The ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, setting up a second-and-third, nobody-out situation. Mike Napoli popped out, but Jonny Gomes delivered a wall-ball double to drive in the two runs (credit Ortiz for reading it off the wall all the way, allowing him to score easily).
It was a romp from that point forward, with the Sox plating five runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth. They added four more runs in the eighth, seemingly just for good measure.
Despite the offensive outburst, “The Man” in this game was clearly the man who held the ball the most – Jon Lester.
In 7 2/3 innings of work, Lester really made just two mistakes, both of which resulted in solo homers from the Rays. Aside from that, Lester was brilliant, allowing just three hits while striking out seven batters.
He retired 11 straight batters from innings four through seven, allowing the Red Sox to really go on a roll offensively without having to spend too much time in the field.
Wil Myers. Not much more needs to be said. Surely, Moore could have done better to limit the damage of the misplay in right field, but had Myers caught that easy fly ball, the entire dynamic of the game would have changed.
The Sox won’t have much time to celebrate, as they’ll get back to it tomorrow afternoon. Don’t expect another eight-run outburst, either, as David Price is coming off his complete-game shutout of the Rangers on Monday night in Game 163 of the season. That guy is straight-up frightening at times, and if he brings the same stuff on Saturday that he had on Monday, it’s going to be a tough one.
For the Sox, John Lackey is in an ideal position. The 1-0 series lead takes some of the pressure off, and he’ll look to pick up where he left off the last time he pitched on the Fenway mound, when he allowed just one run on two hits in a complete game win over the Orioles. His follow-up performance in Colorado was a bad one, but he’s getting this start in Game 2 because of how well he pitched in Fenway all year. It’s up to him to make John Farrell look smart for making that decision.