Judging by the final score, the box score, all the measurables, the Boston Red Sox dominated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of their American League Division Series, 12-2. But a serious argument could be made that a single play turned what looked as if it would be a tense affair into a blowout.
When the bottom of the fourth began, the Rays had already touched Boston starter Jon Lester for a pair of solo homers, and Tampa starter Matt Moore hadn’t allowed a hit. Fenway Park was filled with uneasy energy.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia opened the fourth with a single, but Moore got David Ortiz to launch a fly ball to right. And here it came: Just after he appeared to settle under the ball, Rays right fielder Wil Myers — a catcher by trade — pulled up.
“I waved [center fielder] Desmond [Jennings] off, I called the ball,” Myers told reporters afterward. “It was loud out there, so I hand-motioned that I had the ball. I was under the ball. And I saw Des out of the corner of my eye and backed off. It was a loud crowd today, and that was totally my fault. I should have taken more charge out there.”
He didn’t, and the ball bounced into the Boston bullpen, a ground-rule double. Instead of having a runner on first and one out, Moore faced Mike Napoli with runners on second and third and no outs. Though he got Napoli to pop up, Jonny Gomes followed with a double off the Green Monster, and the Red Sox tied things up at 2. That started a five-run inning that featured two more Rays miscues — first baseman James Loney’s decision to try to get Stephen Drew at first base, where Drew beat the relay, and catcher Jose Lobaton’s dropped third strike that allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach.
The Rays advanced to play Boston because they played a flawless wild-card game Wednesday night in Cleveland. Now, they must attempt to recover for Game 2 at 5:07 p.m. Saturday at Fenway on TBS.
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics, 9 p.m., TBS (Tigers lead, 1-0)
How’d you like to have Justin Verlander available for the second game of a series you already lead? Max Scherzer pitched the Tigers to a 3-2 victory over Oakland in Game 1 Friday night with seven innings and 11 strikeouts.
The National League series are off Saturday, but both got more compelling Friday. Pittsburgh, blown out in Game 1 by St. Louis, turned the tables and blew out the Cardinals behind stud rookie Gerrit Cole. Atlanta, dominated by Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, brought in closer Craig Kimbrell to nail down the final four outs of a taut 4-3 victory over the Dodgers. Both National League series resume Sunday.