Missed Opportunities, Dramatic Homers Halt Sox

Despite going up 3-0, and some early dominance by Clay Buchholz, the Boston Red Sox failed in their attempt to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2008, as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Rays in a tight contest Monday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rays benefited from huge two-out home runs by Evan Longoria, and later by Jose Lobaton to climb out of a 0-2 series hole and breathe new life into a quickly fading season. Also aiding in the comeback were fielding gaffes and some questionable moves by Sox manager John Farrell that ultimately spelled defeat.

What Went Wrong:

– Bottom 5th: Evan Longoria steps up as tying runner with two on and two out. John Farrell elects to pitch to Longoria (1-6 in the ALDS to that point). Longoria proceeds to line a 0-1 Buchholz offering to left for the game tying home run.

-Top of 8th: After Ortiz led off with a walk, pinch runner Quintin Berry stole 2nd, and pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes was walked after a Mike Napoli ground-out. With the go-ahead and insurance runners aboard and two outs (Saltalamacchia struck out swinging), Farrell elects to keep Stephen Drew in the lineup to face Rays lefty Jake McGee. Drew, who batted .196 vs. left-handers proceeded to foul out weakly to third. This move completely contradicted earlier sentiment from Farrell stating he could see Xander Bogaerts pinch-hitting for Drew in big situations in the post-season.

-Bottom of 8th: Brandon Workman inherits two baserunners with one down from Franklin Morales ( 1/3, 1H, 1BB, 1ER). Workman induces a ground ball up the middle by Yunel Escobar that Drew ranges to gather, but Dustin Pedroia – who was likewise going for the ball diving – collides with Drew, preventing the shortstop from making what would have been a double-play at best, and a second out at worst. Instead, the bases are loaded with just one out for post-season maestro Delmon Young.

-Bottom of 8th: Young grounds a ball to first baseman Mike Napoli, whose hesitation to throw home is just enough to cost the Sox as Sam Fuld crosses with the go-ahead run. Napoli touched first for the sure out, and may not have been able to get Fuld forced anyways, but in that situation – the gamble may have been a worthy try since it was a force play at the plate.

In one of many late gaffes, Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia collide, and everyone is safe for the Rays - setting up the go-ahead ground-out by Delmon Young.

In one of many late gaffes, Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia collide, and everyone is safe for the Rays – setting up the go-ahead ground-out by Delmon Young.

The Boston Red Sox were able to tie the game off Rays closer Fernando Rodney once Dustin Pedroia grounded to short to bring home pinch-runner Bogaerts. The small-ball paid off for Boston, but the elation would be short-lived as the Rays used the long-ball again to put the nail in the coffin. Koji Uehara got two quick outs in his usual fashion before light-hitting Jose Lobaton launched an 0-1 delivery to deep center for the walk-off blast, staving off elimination for the Tampa Bay Rays and perhaps shifting momentum in a big way.

Game four will be Tuesday night at 8:07 as Jake Peavy makes his Red Sox postseason debut against the Rays Jeremy Hellickson.

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