“Probably the toughest loss of the year,” Rays’ center fielder B.J. Upton said of Sunday’s game against the Red Sox.
In five hours and 44 minutes, only eight hits were drizzled across 16 innings—from both Boston and Tampa Bay. To put it into perspective, the losing Rays were 3-for-50 on the night, while the Red Sox went 5-for-52.
Sure, on paper it looks like no one could hit a beach ball with a tennis racket last night, but all that means is that there was some really good pitching.
Rays’ right-hander Jeff Niemann retired 24 of the 28 batters faced and allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings. Red Sox righty Josh Beckett did one better with the same eight scoreless innings, but allowing just one hit. Five more pitchers took the mound for Boston while Tampa Bay used eight, with Adam Russell ultimately giving up the game-winning run off of Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single in the top of the 16th.
With the series tied 1-1 going into Sunday’s game, both teams wanted the win.
"This one hurts," said DH Johnny Damon. "We definitely thought we were going to win this game."
While Rays’ first baseman Casey Kotchman committed his first error since August 21, 2010, pitcher Niemann recorded his first 10-strikeout game of his career. However, with a 50-43 record at the season’s halfway mark, Tampa Bay must keep winning games.
"We don't have a lot of room for error right now," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said of the team's postseason chances.