Jeff Niemann took the hill for the Rays Sunday night to take on the Boston Red Sox. Josh Beckett who removed himself from the All-Star Game after aggravating a knee injury while warming up was on the mound to oppose the Rays. Both Beckett and Niemann pitched shutout ball for 8 innings.
Beckett was able to nearly replicate his June 15th start against the Rays where he worked 9 innings and only gave up an infield hit to Reid Brignac while striking out 6 and walking 0. Tonight, Beckett worked 8 shutout innings giving up only an infield hit to Evan Longoria in the first inning, while striking out 6 and walking 0.
Jeff Niemann matched Beckett with 8 shutout innings in what may be his best career start. He gave up only 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out a career high 10. He also tied a career high for number of pitches in a game with 118 (July 10, 2009 vs Oakland A's in a 6-0 CG victory).
The Rays bullpen worked 8 innings, giving up 3H, 1R/1ER, striking out 6 but issuing 10 walks and hitting one batter. The Rays were able to dance around nearly all of the walks but a leadoff walk to Josh Reddick in the top of the 16th inning was the eventual winning run. Alfredo Aceves was the winning pitcher and he improved his record to 5-1 and Jonathon Papelbon earned his 21st save. Adam Russell took the loss for the Rays and his record dropped to 1-2 The Rays ended up losing 2 out of 3 games to the Red Sox and trail the Red Sox by 7 games in the AL East. The Rays will begin a 4 game series with the Yankees tonight and will send Alex Cobb vs A.J. Burnett.
This is the longest game in Rays history in terms of innings and most likely their longest game time wise (5 hour and 44 minutes). For those of you that may have gone to bed before the end of the ballgame, I've included a recap of the game from the 9th inning on after the jump.
The Red Sox had their best scoring opportunity in the top of the ninth inning. Kyle Farnsworth replaced Niemann and gave up a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia. Adrian Gonzalez helped Farnsworth by swinging at the first pitch and lofted a fly out to left field. Kevin Youkilis walked but Farnsworth was able to strike out David Ortiz on three pitches before walking J.D. Drew to load the bases. The Red Sox rally ended when Josh Reddick flew out to right field.
The Rays were able to threaten in the bottom of the ninth off Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard. After retiring pinch hitter Matt Joyce on a line out to short and striking out Reid Brignac. Johnny Damon hit a soft line drive to centerfield and stole second base to give the Rays their first runner in scoring position on the evening. Ben Zobrist walked to put runners at first and second with two out and gave Evan Longoria a chance to win the game for the Rays but Longoria would hit a lazy fly ball to right to end the threat.
Joel Peralta came in to work the 10th inning and retired Jason Varitek before walking #9 hitter Marco Scutaro. Joe Maddon went to the bullpen and called on J.P. Howell to face left handed hitter Jacoby Ellsbury who chopped a ball down the first base line. Casey Kotchman charged the ball, threw to second for the force out, but the relay wasn't in time to get the speedy Ellsbury at first. Howell then walked Dustin Pedroia bringing MVP candidate and left handed bat Adrian Gonzalez to the plate with a chance to give the Red Sox the lead. Gonzalez gave everyone a moment of pause slicing a ball down the left field line that hit the back wall 6-inches foul before bouncing out to second to end the threat.
The Red Sox brought right handed pitcher Matt Albers to work the bottom of the 10th. Albers struck Casey Kotchman out to lead off the inning, retired B.J. Upton on a groundout to second, and Justin Ruggiano sent a fly ball to deep left center field but was robbed of extra bases on an outstanding catch by Josh Reddick.
J.P. Howell remained in the game to begin the 11th and walked Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz before being replaced by Jake McGee. Terry Francona pinch hit Darnell McDonald for J.D. Drew and elected not to sacrifice bunt. and McDonald worked a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Joe Maddon brought the infield in against Josh Reddick who struck out for the first out of the inning. Joe Maddon was upset at a failed check swing strike call against Josh Reddick and was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Juan Cruz entered the game and struck out Jason Varitek for the second out and got Marco Scutaro to pop out to catcher Kelly Shoppach to end the Boston threat. Scutaro was so upset at popping out that he threw his bat into the ground. The bat bounced into the line of sight of Kelly Shoppach and when Davey Martinez reacted about it, Fairchild threw him out of the game as well.
Matt Albers remained in the game to start the bottom of the 11th inning and Sean Rodriguez led him off with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kelly Shoppach. With Rodriguez in scoring position, Albers was able to strike out Reid Brignac for the second out. Terry Francona went to his bullpen to bring in left handed pitcher Franklin Morales to face Johnny Damon who bounced out to 2nd base to end the Rays rally.
The Rays went to Cesar Ramos to begin the 12th inning and he retired Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the inning, Dustin Pedroia grounded out, and Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to first. Ramos only threw 7 pitches in the inning.
Franklin Morales stayed in to work the bottom of the 12th inning and he struck out Ben Zobrist to lead off the inning, Evan Longoria sent a long fly ball to the warning track in left center, and Casey Kotchman drove a ball to the warning track in left center to end the 12th inning.
The Rays went to Brandon Gomes to begin the 13th inning and he struck out Kevin Youkilis to begin the inning, Drew Sutton (who pinch ran for David Ortiz in the 11th) flew out to left, Darnell McDonald drew a 2-out walk, and Josh Reddick flew out to center.
The Red Sox brought in Alfredo Aceves for the bottom of the 13th inning and he retired B.J. Upton on a groundout to 3rd, Justin Ruggiano popped out to right, and Sean Rodriguez flew out to left field.
Brandon Gomes stayed in to work the fourteenth inning and struck out Jason Varitek, got Marco Scutaro to fly out to right for the second out, and struck out Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning.
Aceves stayed in the game for the Red Sox and retired Kelly Shoppach on a pop out to shortstop, Reid Brignac grounded out to first, and Johnny Damon struck out.
Brandon Gomes stayed for his third inning of work and retired Dustin Pedroia on a long fly out to center, he walked Adrian Gonzalez and hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch to put runners at first and second with only one out. Gomes was able to get Drew Sutton to pop out to short and retired Darnell McDonald to fly out to right.
Alfredo Aceves also stayed in the game for his third inning of work and struck out Ben Zobrist looking but then hit back to back hitters Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman to put runners at first and second with one out, but B.J. Upton popped out to second and Justin Ruggiano grounded out to short to end the inning.
Adam Russell, the last reliever in the pen, came in to work the sixteenth inning and issued a leadoff walk to Josh Reddick and he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jason Varitek. Marco Scutaro reached base safely on an infield hit to put runners at first and third with one out for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury flied out to shallow left field for the second out but he was bailed out by Dustin Pedroia who finally got the go ahead hit by punching a single to right field line scoring Josh Reddick from 3rd. Adrian Gonzalez flew out to deep right field to end the inning.
Jonathon Papelbon came on to work the bottom of the sixteenth and struck out Sean Rodriguez for the first out, Kelly Shoppach grounded out to third for the second out, and Reid Brignac grounded out to first to end the game.