This certainly wasn't the way the Red Sox wanted to start the most important stretch of games this season.
With the exception of home runs by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, the offense didn't make an appearance versus Matt Garza and the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, the 5 through 9 hitters last night went a paltry 1-for-21, as the Rays outlasted the Sox, 4-2 in 13 innings.
Jon Lester was superb through 6+ innings, striking out 10. But Daniel Bard had a rare bad outing, giving up a home run to Evan Longoria that tied the game in the eighth. It was a mixed bag night for the bullpen, as the Rays had the bases loaded twice with no outs (once in the 8th and again in the 10th) and came away with nothing. (The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to score in the top of the 10th, as they loaded the bases with one out, but Dustin Pedroia banged into a double play to end it.) Terry Francona completely used up the pen (they were one man short since the trade of Justin Masterson), as Takashi Saito last one in there starting the 12th.
He had Clay Buchholz throwing in the bullpen in case the game reached the 14th, but it never did, as Saito gave up a two-run blast to Evan Longoria with two outs to wrap it up. Francona could have walked Longoria, as first base was open. But with Ben Zobrist on deck, it was a pick your poison moment.
Yep, just want you wanted to start this important six-game week: blow out your entire bullpen. And the news wasn't as better in Toronto, as New York beat Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, 5-3, to put the Red Sox 1 1/2 games back. Brad Penny takes the mound tonight as the Red Sox attempt to get a split in St. Pete.