Boston bullpen wins on Bullpen Day

by Gary Shelton on April 1, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Smith gets doubled off in the ninth inning./STEVEN MUNCIE

Smith gets doubled off in the ninth inning./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 3 a.m.

Here on Bullpen Day, America's newest holiday, the one of the Boston Red Sox was better.

Bullpen Day, a day when the Rays break from the regulars of their rotation and turn their game into a relay race, lost another one-run game to the Boston Red Sox. The Rays fell 3-2, although their bullpen members pitched well enough to encourage the team to try it again.

The Red Sox' own bullpen, featuring Craig Kimbrel, shut down the Rays in the bottom of the ninth inning when Mallex Smith was doubled off of first on a soft line drive off the bat of C.J. Cron.

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Carlos Gómez reacts after getting the Rays tp within a run./STEVEN MUNCIE

Carlos Gómez reacts after getting the Rays to within a run./STEVEN MUNCIE

Smith seemed indecisive as he went down the line, then stopped and returned to first. The throw by shortstop Xander Bogaerts beat him back to first.

“I just got caught in-between, you know," he said. "It was a. soft line drive. I just couldn’t read it that well. I wanted to put myself in the best situation to

Andrew Kittredge started for the Rays on bullpen day./STEVEN MUNCIE

Andrew Kittredge started for the Rays on bullpen day./STEVEN MUNCIE

maybe make it (to second) or break up a double play if it drops, and still at the same time make sure I was close enough to try to get back. That’s a hard thing to do. Just a tough ball. I could say I misread it. Just misread it."

And if it happens again today.

"I'll probably stay a little closer to the bag," he said.

Kimbrel continued to own the Rays. He now has 11 straight appearances with no runs and no hits. He's struck out 26 batters during the streak.

The Rays fell behind 3-0 on Saturday against Rick Porcello, another former Cy Young winner pitching for the Sox. After five innings, the Rays had come to bat 22 innings this season, and they had scored in just one of them.

That changed in the sixth inning, when Carlos Gomez doubled, went to third on a single by Matt Duffy and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Wendell. In

Kevin Kiermaier reacts after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

Kevin Kiermaier reacts after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

the eighth, Gomez homered to left. But that was as close as the Rays got. They have now been shut out in 23 of their 26 at-bats.

The Rays started Andrew Kittridge, who gave up two runs (one earned) in his 3 1/3 innings. Ryan Yarborough came on for four innings, giving up one run.

Yarborough's initial thought?

"Holy crap, this is really happening," he said.

It remains to be seen how this patchwork approach to pitching will work. The Rays have another bullpen day scheduled for Monday in New York.

Denard Span reacts after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

Denard Span reacts after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

"I'll give it a couple of cycles through the bullpen day before (he makes a decision on how it's working)," manager Kevin Cash said. "We don't rate anything after one time. I thought the two guys pitched well.

"We probably extended Yarborough a bit there, but talking to Kyle (Snyder, the pitching coach) during the game, he was comfortable we could get him to that 75-80 pitch mark."

It didn't matter who was pitching for the Rays when Bogaerts came to the plate. He has had nine hits in the first three games, including a second-inning home run.

"He's on fire right now," Kittredge said. "Then you get behind 3-1 on him,

Brad Miller looks with frustration./STEVEN MUNCIE

Brad Miller looks with frustration./STEVEN MUNCIE

and the count heavily favors him. Anytime you are in those situations, you have to make a good pitch to him, and I didn't make a good pitcher there. He made me pay for it."

Gomez had a two-for-four night as the Rays had eight hits, equal to their total from the first two games.

"He ignited us in spring training," said Cash. "It was just a matter of time. He's a major league player, a veteran player. He's going to get going. He had  a couple of just-misses the first two nights.  That's the guy you want up there in the big situation. He's kind of fearless. He could care less who is on the mound."

The Rays try for a split of their first four games when Jake Faria faces Hector Velazquez. The game begins at 1:10 p.m.

Adeiny Hechavarria tosses the ball to second base./STEVEN MUNCIE

Adeiny Hechavarria tosses the ball to second base./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

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