Starting on Monday, August 30th, the pandemic stricken Red Sox started a four game set against the division leading Tampa Bay Rays. This series due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a mess, but didn’t end up a disaster. Entering the series, things got a bit shaky, and worsened as the series progressed. Kike Hernandez would be the first of many to test positive for COVID-19, bringing close contacts with him. Prior to the series, Hunter Renfroe was away from the team due to personal issues, already leaving the Sox shorthanded.
Next, the COVID-19 pandemic would continue it’s trend. The Red Sox, after 3 games in this series, were down Renfroe plus 8 total players and 3 total coaches due to positive tests or contact tracing. Xander Bogaerts had to be pulled midway through game 2 with a positive test. He added to the list of Yario Munoz, Christian Arroyo, Kike Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Barnes, and Martin Perez.
Due to these outages, the Red Sox were forced to make moves, pulling up and trading for minor league players. Jack Lopez, a nine year minor league veteran would start at second base in his major league debut. Danny Santana, Ryan Braiser, and Jonathan Arauz would be relied on to fill starters roles for the rest of the series. The Red Sox even traded for minor league relief pitcher Brad Peacock for cash considerations. They immediately made him their game 2 starter less than a day later.
Somehow, through all these circumstances and the emergence of Bobby Dalbec, the Sox avoided disaster. Lets get into the games:
Game One: Rays 6, Red Sox 1
Nick Pivetta would get the start for game 1. He got rocked around, letting up 6 hits and 4 runs while walking 5 in 5.0 IP. In this game, the Rays were just superior. The only bright spot on the night was Bobby Dalbec’s solo home run in the second to tie the game at 1. The seven total walks by the Red Sox pitching staff would just be too much, and they ultimately dropped game 1.
Game Two: Rays 8, Red Sox 5
The second game of this set was much of the same despite the score. Newly acquired minor league pitcher Brad Peacock would start, going just 2.1 innings and letting up 5 earned runs. Kyle Schwarber went deep for Boston, while Bogaerts would have to be pulled mid-game due to a positive test. Yario Munoz would replace him and test positive hours later. The Red Sox would trail 8-2 until the 8th, scoring 1 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th. They brought the tying run to the plate with one out, but Travis Shaw and Rafael Devers both fanned and the Sox dropped game two.
Game Three: Red Sox 3, Rays 2
With their backs against the wall, the Sox bounced back in an exciting shorthanded win. Chris Sale went 6 innings for Boston, only letting up a two-run blast during the stretch. He did his job, and then the offense did theirs. Christian Vasquez had himself a night at the plate, singling in an RBI in the 2nd, and then hit a solo shot to tie the game in the 7th. He would finish the game 3-4. Jarren Duran was the two-out hero, though. He would single with two outs in the top of the 9th to drive in Devers, and the Red Sox pulled off an improbable game three win.
Game 4: Red Sox 4, Rays 0
Eduardo Rodriguez pitched an absolute gem tonight, fanning 6, giving up no runs, and only 4 hits in 6 innings pitched. Garrett Richards would pitch 3 innings of relief for the save, striking out 4 and only letting up just one hit. On offense, red hot Bobby Dalbec would go 2 for 4 and bring in 2 to lead the Sox to a series split, one they should not have had, especially against the Rays.
The Red Sox now head back home. Although still shorthanded due to the pandemic, they’ll take on the Indians in a 3 game set starting Friday.
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