The Tampa Bay Rays entered tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka in the midst of a huge offensive slump. It took all of two innings, but Daisuke Matsuzaka solved those problems….and then some. The Rays took the lead in the top of the first innings on a solo homerun by Johnny Damon, and then the unloaded on Dice-K in the top of the second and scored six more runs.
Ben Zobrist led off the second inning with a weak groundball double up the left field line, and then B.J. Upton and Felipe Lopez loaded the bases with a walk and a single. At this point, the hits came fast and often: on the next three pitches, John Jaso doubled off the Green Monster, Reid Brignac singled sharply to center, and Sam Fuld brought the remaining baserunners home with a homerun just inside the Pesky Pole.
The Rays went on to tack on numerous runs over the course of the game, but that early lead was more than enough to allow the Rays to walk away with the win tonight. Their 16 total runs almost matched the amount of total runs they’d scored in their first nine games of the season (20), and the Red Sox have now allowed a total of 69 runs in their first ten games. The only other teams to start a season with a similar stretch have all finished with 84 wins or less.
- Johnny Damon had a strong first game in Fenway as a Ray, getting a season high three hits including a solo homerun in the first. He also got booed by the fans during his first at bat – and booed by his own teammates.
- Sam Fuld technically came a single short of hitting for the cycle, but that’s only because he legged out a double on a ball hit into the left field corner in the ninth inning instead of staying at first base. His “cycle” (if you want to call it that) is only the second one in Rays history; B.J. Upton had the first.
- Jeremy Hellickson had an odd start, getting squeezed by the home plate umpire and walking five batters. Hellickson is notorious for his control, so seeing him walk five batters was highly unusual. Despite allowing an average of two baserunners an inning, though, Hellboy held the Sox to only two runs through 5.1 innings pitched.
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