Rays 5, Red Sox 4
The Red Sox lost their MLB-leading 31st game of the season at Tropicana Field.
1. Nathan Eovaldi reminded us what could’ve been
NESN broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley said it best during the broadcast about Eovaldi: He always leaves us wanting more.
In his first start in three weeks after a minor calf injury resulted in a longer-than-expected layoff, Eovaldi returned and hit triple-digits on the radar gun while flashing a brilliant breaking ball and sharp command.
But he threw just 40 pitches, 28 for strikes, striking out four while pitching only three innings before the Red Sox pulled the plug.
“It definitely felt really good to be back out there,” he said. “That first inning I was a little fired up, timing was a little off with everything. Took me a little bit to settle down but once I did I felt really good.”
Eovaldi said he definitely could’ve pitched more, but the Sox are clearly being careful with their $68-million right-hander, a sensible move given the Sox’ last-place standing.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” he said. “I felt really good. We’re trying to build up the right way, build up slow.”
The issue, of course, is that Eovaldi had thrown just 37⅓ innings in a season in which he was supposed to be relied upon as the ace of the staff. He’s got just four wins since signing his four-year deal. And it seems like it’s always something new preventing him from taking the mound.
It was a great sign for the Red Sox to see him dominating — he only allowed one run on a homer from Austin Meadows — but a reminder that as good as he is, it’s never quite enough.
2. The Red Sox had a great game plan
It was nice to see the Sox come into the game with a smart plan, clearly having seen something in their video work with Rays’ starter Tyler Glasnow.
From the beginning, baserunners were taking off on Glasnow, who appeared to lean forward every time he started his delivery, which made it easy for Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo and Michael Chavis to steal six bases off Glasnow in seven innings of work.
Glasnow was mostly dominant, striking out seven batters, but the Sox’ seemed to throw him off with their aggressive baserunning and managed to score four off him.
“He’s got great stuff,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “To try to disrupt some pitchers somehow, you try to pick something that you can maybe take advantage of and we did but he still threw the ball pretty good. I just think we haven’t run this year. I’ve been wanting to run, and I don’t’ know why we’re a little more hesitant this year and last year we were too. We don’t have any true 50-bases a year base stealers but we have some guy that run and I think we need to take advantage of some guys that have higher leg kicks when we can.”
The biggest mistake of the game was by Chavis, who got a little too excited running second to third with one out in the fifth inning on a pop-up. Roenicke said Chavis simply forgot how many outs there were. It was an inexcusable mistake that ended a potential rally with Rafael Devers coming up next.
Chavis also homered in the game off a high fastball, a great sign for a player who struggles to hit that pitch, and made an excellent play at first base, but the lapse in mental focus ended up costing the Sox in this one.
3. Christian Arroyo can destroy mistake pitches
The former first-round draft pick is expected to get most of the playing time at second base down the stretch as the Sox look to see what they have at the position going into next year.
In his fourth start at second base for the Sox, Arroyo got a juicy fastball right down the pipe and demolished it into the second level of seats in left field for a two-run, game-tying blast in the seventh inning.
“I know you guys can’t watch his batting practice, but his batting practice today was fantastic,” Roenicke said. “He has been swinging the bat well. The day before it was really good also. I don’t know what (hitting coaches Tim Hyers and Pete Fatse) have been talking to him about, but whatever they’ve been doing, I think his BPs have been outstanding. Power. He’s hit to all fields. He looks really good. Hopefully that’s the type of guy that, that’s why we got him. I mean, he’s got some tremendous ability, and when you see that like we did today, it makes you feel good that you have this guy.”
It was Arroyo’s first major league homer of the year and put the Sox in a nice position to sneak out with a win.
Marcus Walden couldn’t hold the lead. Fresh off his return from Pawtucket, where he was working on some things after a rough start to the year, Walden allowed a homer to Brandon Lowe that was the eventual game-winner for the Rays.