The Boston Red Sox came out of a tough series in Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays with their hand on top and a commanding lead in the AL East, thanks to one big home run from David Nava and another solid pitching performance from Alfredo Aceves.
By winning the third game (2-1) and two out of three in the series, the Red Sox pushed the Rays further back, to five games behind them. The two teams still have 10 more games to play against each other in a division that looks far from over, despite Boston’s impressive start to the season.
Home runs were the story in the lowest scoring game in the midweek affair, as David Nava hit a two-run homer in the third inning to give Boston the lead that they hung on to for the rest of the night. It was his ninth of the season and first since June 1 in that demolition (11-1) of the New York Yankees. Nava has been hitting well lately, getting one at least in six straight games, going 5-of-19 in the series against the Rays.
Evan Longoria was the only one who got on the scoreboard for the Rays, hitting a home run in the sixth inning, his 13th of the season. The Rays got one more hit than the Sox in the game (6-of-31 compared with 5-of-32), but couldn’t get anything done with runners in scoring positions, going o-for-7 in those situations, while the Red Sox didn’t do much better, but had the fortune of having a runner on base when Nava decided to pull for power.
The rest was a pitchers duel. Chris Archer, who started for the Rays, didn’t last more than four innings, showing great inconsistency with his delivery. He did strike out 7 batters, but he allowed four hits and four walks, including the home run that lost the home team the game. In comparison, Aceves, winning his third game of the season, lasted a bit longer in the game (six innings), allowing four hits and four walks, and still it looked a lot more confident and commanding.
Both bullpens did a good job once they came on, but Andrew Bailey was the one who eventually got the save for the Red Sox, picking up his 7th of the season, in a game that was unlike the rest of the series, with the teams combining to score 18 on the opening game before Tampa beat Boston 8-3 in game 2.
Jacoby Elsbury was one of the few Boston players worth mentioning on offense, getting a hit in his 11th straight game, but also adding two stolen bases, making it 29 for him this season, and also reaching home plate (scoring off of Nava’s home run) for the 10th consecutive outing.
For the Red Sox, next up is the weekend four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, another team that’s quite close to Boston in a very tight division. The Rays have an easier series coming up, remaining at home against the Kansas City Royals before driving up to Boston to resume the rivalry.