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Tuesday, 08 October 2013 04:59

ALDS Game 3 Recap: Tampa Bay Rays Force Game 4 Against The Boston Red Sox

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Just when it seemed like this series was over, the unlikeliest of players took center stage and swung the momentum of this American League Divisional Series drastically. But even before the Tampa Bay back up catcher, Jose Lobaton, belted a walk off home run to right center filed to give the Rays the victory, things seemed to be taking a different path than that of the first two games. In the first inning, it seemed as though the Red Sox were ready to put this series to bed. The Red Sox were opposed by the 26 year old Alex Cobb and looked to get the scoring started early. Jacoby Ellsbury lead off the game with a single and Shane Victorino followed with a hit by pitch. Ellsbury would later come around to score after a Victorino take out slide forced Rays second baseman, Ben Zobrist, to bobble the ball. The Red Sox would also go on to add two more runs to their tally in the bottom of the fifth. After Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and Shane Victorino singled, Boston had runners on the corners with just one out. It was then that Alex Cobb uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ellsbury to score as well as advance Victorino to second base. Since the Red Sox first two runs came on a error and a wild pitch, David Ortiz’ single to score Victorino later in the fourth became the Red Sox first “legitimate” run. Meanwhile Red Sox starter, Clay Buchholz, was keeping the Rays bats in check through the first four innings of the game; allowing just 3 hits and a walk. However, it was the bottom of the fifth that saw Tampa Bay get the hit they had been looking for all series. Yunel Escobar lead off the Rays half of the fifth with a single and two batters later David DeJesus, setting the stage for the face of the Tampa Bay Rays to make his presence felt. Although it was still early in the game, Evan Longoria was in a really tight spot. Two outs, runners on second and third, tying run at the plate. But Longoria embraced the moment and drove a Clay Buchholz change-up over the left field wall to tie the game at three a side. After a plethora of player substitutions from both sides, the game remained tied until the bottom of the 8th inning. With Franklin Morales on the mound in relief of Junichi Tazawa, he lead off the bottom of the 8th inning with a walk to Loney and a single to Desmond Jennings. But despite getting Matt Joyce to pop out for the first out of the inning, John Farrell called upon Brandon Workman to record two outs still needed. Workman inherited runners on first and second and was looking for a ground ball to retire the side. But tonight apparently was not Workman’s night. Yunel Escobar to hit a weak ground ball towards the middle of the infield but second baseman Dustin Pedroia and short stop Stephen Drew collided on the infield and a possible double play chance was blown. Rays manager, Joe Maddon, then decided to dip into his bench options hoping to take advantage of the Red Sox blunder. Maddon sent Delmon Young up to pinch hit for Jose Molina with one out and the bases loaded. Although it wasn’t a loud scoring play, it was an effective one. Young hit a chopper to Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli that drove the go ahead run in from third. But the Red Sox weren’t prepared to let that be the hit that won the game. After Sean Rodriguez poped out to Jonny Gomes, the Red Sox came up to bat in the ninth inning versus the Rays closer, Fernando Rodney. Will Middlebrooks was the first to greet Rodney and did so with a 5 pitch walk. Jacoby Ellsbury then kept the rally going with a bloop single to left field. Now with runners on first and second with no outs, Shane Victorino pushed Middlebrooks and Ellsbury into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. In the ensuing at bat, Dustin Pedroia grounded out to the shortstop but Middlebrooks was able to score and tie the game. Mike Carp sought to keep the rally going with two outs and a runner on third but was unable to push the go ahead run across the plate as Rodney struck him out. With the score now tied, it only made sense that Farrell looked to use his most automatic reliever in hopes to force extra innings. Koji Uehara seemed up to his same old tricks. He retired Zobrist on just one pitch and retired Longoria on just two pitches. It appeared that this game was heading to extra frames but Jose Lobaton had other plans. On just the fifth pitch of his outing, Uehara threw a decent splitter but Lobaton knew it was coming and drove it over the right field was and into the sting ray tank; securing the win for Tampa Bay. While the Red Sox probably would have liked to of finished off the ALDS tonight, there’s always tomorrow. The Red Sox will send out Jake Peavy in game four and the Rays will counter with Jeremy Hellickson. It will be interesting to see how the momentum factor will play into tomorrows game now that the Rays have found new life. Equally as intriguing will be how the Red Sox respond to such a crushing loss. Personally, after watching this Red Sox team all year, it seems like it will take more than one loss to take the wind out of their sails.