The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox have been reduced to the role of spoiler, which they will try to be Saturday against the wild-card hopeful Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Red Sox were eliminated from postseason contention when the Cleveland Indians defeated the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Friday night. Shortly thereafter, Boston’s Mitch Moreland hit his second two-run homer of the night in the ninth inning against Tampa Bay, forcing extra innings.
The Rays came away with a 5-4 victory on Willy Adames’ run-scoring single in the 11th inning, helping Tampa Bay remain even with the Indians for the American League’s second and final wild-card berth.
“Obviously it’s tough,” Moreland told MLB.com. “You kind of fight all year to put yourselves in a good position, but it’s just been an uphill battle. We kind of got off to a tough start there and it just seemed like it kind of snowballed on us.”
The Rays and Indians are two games behind Oakland for the first AL wild card.
“Somebody asked me that, if we have to (beat the Rays) for the A’s and the Indians,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They have to take care of their business; we don’t owe them anything. But we owe it to our fan base, to the organization, to go out there and play.
“We can come in here, win three out of four. … I mean, it’s not going to save our season, ya know? But just go out there and compete against them and see what happens.”
Boston right-hander Rick Porcello, who pitched six scoreless innings Friday, said the Red Sox won’t quit.
“I don’t know what else to say; it’s been a tough year,” Porcello told MLB.com. “It’s not for a lack of effort. The guys that are on the field right now are grinding their tails off until the end, there’s definitely something to be said for that.”
Boston is scheduled to go with a bullpen day Saturday, with right-hander Travis Lakins (0-1, 4.58 ERA) leading off.
The Rays plan to go with right-handed Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.03 ERA), who will be making his third start since returning from the injured list and is expected to be limited to four innings. In his first two starts since his return from right forearm strain that had sidelined him since May, Glasnow has allowed two runs and struck out 10 over five innings.
Adames also had a run-scoring, ground-rule double that gave the Rays a 3-2 lead in the seventh, after Moreland broke a scoreless tie with a two-run shot in the top of the inning.
“That’s the best feeling in the world, man,” Adames said of his winning hit. “When you’re in that situation and you deliver the hit, that’s the best feeling that you’re ever going to have.”
It was the second consecutive extra-inning victory for the Rays.
“Gritty teams do that,” Rays right-hander Charlie Morton said. “It’s really important, it’s really telling. The teams put in positions like that in a deficit and come back to tie or take the lead, that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal.”
–Field Level Media