Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Matt Moore turned to watch a routine fly to deep right field. Then he saw it fall behind rookie Wil Myers for a ground-rule double.
Suddenly, Tampa Bay’s outstanding left-hander had gone from in control to in trouble.
Myers’ misplay on a drive by David Ortiz started host Boston toward a five-run fourth inning and a big win over Tampa Bay in the opener of the American League Division Series on Friday.
“There’s going to be things that happen throughout the course of a game that don’t particularly go your way and, obviously, that one didn’t,” Moore said. “I have to be better than five runs after that, regardless. No outs, two outs, I have to be better than five runs.”
Moore allowed five runs or more in just five of his 27 starts this season. That stinginess propelled him to a 17-4 record and 3.29 ERA.
Myers called for the ball but, at the last instant, backed off when he saw center fielder Desmond Jennings out of the corner of his eye.
“That was totally my fault,” Myers said. “I should have took more charge out there and just caught the ball.”
Moore contributed to the fielding follies later in the inning when he was late covering first base on a grounder and Stephen Drew beat James Loney’s throw. Jonny Gomes scored from second on the play.
“It was a big-time mistake on my part being late at first and not being aware of what the runner on second base was doing after that,” Moore said.
The defensive mistakes were uncharacteristic of the Rays, who had the second-best fielding percentage in the majors.
“Matty was not bad,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was just an unfortunate inning. With a more normal inning, he could have pitched deep into the game. Everything was good. We just kind of messed it up in that inning. But mistakes will kill you. We’re normally not the team that makes those kind of mistakes.”
Moore allowed eight runs on eight hits in 4⅓ innings, striking out four and walking two as he struggled after Myers let the ball drop.
“I felt bad for Matty,” Jennings said. “I felt bad for our team. It’s a play that we should make.”
Needing a 163rd game to earn a wild-card berth, the Rays won three win-or-go-home games in three different cities to reach this series. Now they need a victory in Game 2 today to tie the best-of-five series before it shifts to St. Petersburg, Fla., for Games 3 and 4.
Jon Lester allowed three hits in 7⅔ innings for the AL East champions, giving up solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist to spot the Rays a 2-0 lead through the top of the fourth. Moore had still not given up a hit.
But Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom half with a single, then Ortiz hit a high fly that Myers called for by raising his right hand but let fall behind him and bounce off the warning track and into the Boston bullpen for a double.
With a derisive cheer of “My-ers, My-ers,” echoing through the ballpark, Mike Napoli popped up to second base for the first out before Gomes hit a fly ball that scraped the left-field wall on the way down. Pedroia held to tag up, then scored easily with Ortiz coming in just a few steps behind him to make it 2-2.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out before Stephen Drew hit a slow hopper to first that Loney fielded and flicked to Moore. But the pitcher’s foot came down a split second after Drew’s, with Moore facing the wrong way, Gomes never slowed as he rounded third and scored without a throw.
Will Middlebrooks followed with a line drive to left that took a bad hop off the Monster and got past Rodriguez on the rebound. That allowed Drew to score and make it 4-2, while Middlebrooks went into second with a double.
“It’s called the Monster for a reason, right?” Rodriguez said.
Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a passed ball on strike three — which would have been the third out — and Middlebrooks moved to third, where he scored on Shane Victorino’s single to go up 5-2. None of the misplays was scored an error.
The Red Sox added three more runs to chase Moore in the fifth, when they sent nine batters to the plate — the first time in franchise history they have batted around in consecutive innings in a postseason game.