Support Local News.

We've been with you throughout the pandemic, the vaccinations and the reopening of schools, businesses and communities. There's never been more of a need for the kind of local, independent and unbiased journalism that The Day produces.
Please support our work by subscribing today.

Red Sox beat the Rays 9-5 in 11 innings

St. Petersburg, Fla. — Wander Franco mania arrived with a bang at Tropicana Field, but the Red Sox survived.

In one of the most-hyped debuts in recent baseball history, Franco — the top-ranked prospect in baseball — announced his arrival to the show emphatically as he hit a game-tying three-run home run, but the Red Sox prevailed, using a four-run rally in the 11th to beat the Rays, 9-5, at Tropicana Field in a wild first game of their pivotal three-game series.

A crazy four-hour, 21-minute game seemed to have everything, from the 20-year-old Franco homering in his third career at-bat to a catwalk double by Rafael Devers and a handful of strange plays on the base paths. But the Red Sox (44-29), as they've done all season, stayed poised to hand the Rays their seventh loss and go 1 1/2 games up on them for the American League East lead.

"There was a lot of stuff," manager Alex Cora said. "A lot of stuff. At the end, it's a big-league win against a team that they're the American League favorites. Everybody thought coming into the season that team, they have a chance to get back to the World Series and we did a good job against them."

After Franco produced the game-tying shot in the fifth, the Red Sox and Rays didn't give an inch until the 11th, when Rafael Devers hit a tie-breaking two-run double down the right-field line — through the legs of first baseman Yandy Diaz. Connor Wong, pinch-running in his major league debut, scored the eventual game-winning run that sparked a four-run inning as the Sox went on to complete their league-leading 25th come-from-behind win of the season.

"I went up there trying to be aggressive and I just knew the game wasn't over for us," Devers said.

The result was almost never certain in a game that never felt normal as umpires checked pitchers for sticky substances for the first time on top of the wackiness on the field.

In a 5-5 game in the eighth, Adam Ottavino worked out of some danger to come up with a big inning-ending strikeout. Matt Barnes did the same in the ninth but needed a little bit of luck.

With no outs and Kevin Kiermaier at first, Yandy Diaz hit a slow grounder to Kiké Hernández at second. Hernandez tried to tag Kiermaier in the base path and dropped the ball in his attempt, but it rolled to Xander Bogaerts, who was standing at second. Kiermaier was initially ruled safe, but it was overturned after review.

Barnes went on to strike out Austin Meadows to send the game to extras.

"It was huge," Cora said of the play by Bogaerts.

It looked like the Red Sox weren't going to be so fortunate as they ran into some outs in the 10th. With Bobby Dalbec at third and no outs, Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks threw two straight wild pitches, and Dalbec took off on the second one. But Fairbanks got home in time to block Dalbec's path to the plate and tag him out.

Then, after electing to intentionally walk Alex Verdugo, Fairbanks struck out J.D. Martinez and catcher Mike Zunino threw out Verdugo trying to steal second to end the inning. An excited Fairbanks showed some emotion toward the Red Sox dugout as he walked off the field.

The Red Sox, though, got a break in the bottom of the inning after Hirokazu Sawamura intentionally walked Joey Wendle to put runners at first and second with one out. Zunino hit a ground ball that Devers booted at third, but Brett Phillips inexplicably retreated back to second for the easy force out at third. The Sox ultimately got out of the inning unscathed to get to the 11th, where they won it.

Eduardo Rodriguez overcame an early 2-0 deficit, thanks largely to some ugly defense behind him, and looked good over the first four innings. But as has often been the case for the Red Sox lefty this season, something eventually wrong.

The Red Sox led 5-2 in the fifth when, almost expectedly, it got away from Rodriguez. He hit leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch, then yielded a single to Diaz. Then, Franco delivered in his debut. Rodriguez's first-pitch slider wasn't a bad pitch, but Franco got underneath it and showcased his oozing talent with one swing, powering a three-run, game-tying home run to the left-field seats.

The homer was Franco's first career big-league hit, and it was a big one. He raised his right arm in the air as he rounded first, earning a deservedly loud ovation from the crowd at Tropicana Field.

For Rodriguez, it was more frustration. He had his moments, striking out seven and walking just one, and he retired nine of 10 batters he faced from the second to fourth innings. He ultimately completed six innings for the first time since May 12 as he threw 90 pitches. But the homer to Franco served as a microcosm of his season as he once again couldn't quite put it all together.

But the Red Sox, once again, overcame it. With six shutout innings from their bullpen, some timely hitting and a little bit of luck, they looked resilient again in a big win to start a big series.

"It's a good baseball team that we still have to get better in certain things," Cora said. "I keep saying it, but at the end of the day, you tell us where or when or what time, it doesn't matter if it takes two hours and 45 minutes or whatever it took today. We push to the end no matter the result. It's a testament to who they are. I'm very proud of them."

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments

TRENDING

PODCASTS