ST. PETERSBURG (CBS) The Tampa Bay Rays need a sweep of the slumping Red Sox to gain some ground in the AL Wild Card picture, and Friday night’s win was a good start on the road to recovery for Tampa Bay.
A 7-2 win over Boston has placed the Rays in a good position for a possible late season surge into the playoff scenario. They are 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race, while the injury-plagued Boston roster continued to struggle after dropping five of their last six games.
Wade Davis (10-8) hasn’t fared so well against Boston in previous starts, but he pitched with a sense of urgency on Friday as he picked up his 10th win of the year by going nine strong innings with six hits and two earned runs allowed.
He showed great command and gave his team momentum in the early goings, resulting in a well-executed double play in the first and John Jaso’s three-run blast in the second that gave the Rays an early 3-0 lead.
Johnny Damon and Matt Joyce fueled the offensive locomotive in the second with a string of singles to give the Rays an early 5-0 cushion. Boston pitcher John Lackey was pulled in the third after giving up five runs on three hits.
Boston cut the lead to three when they managed to drive in two runs in the top of the sixth, but Tampa Bay answered right back with two doubles by Reid Brignac and Evan Longoria to extend their lead to five.
Tampa Bay would never look back. With 19 games left on the year, the Rays have a legitimate chance to make a season-defining comeback during the last leg of their schedule.
Manager Joe Maddon knows it’s crunch time, and he wants to make it clear that his team means business.
“So we have to show them tomorrow again. Show them that it’s real. And we mean this. And we’re going to get this done. But it had to start tonight.”And I think we came out and played our style of baseball tonight, and I was very proud of it.”