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Back On Top: Rays Outduel Boston, Regain AL East Lead

Rays DH Manuel Margot is congratulated by Wander Franco (left) and Randy Arozarena after scoring the winning run against the Boston Red Sox (photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

They aren’t all going to be pretty, but the Tampa Bay Rays have learned that ugly wins count the same in the ledger.  They took advantage of that Thursday evening, using just two hits to outduel the Boston Red Sox 1-0 at Tropicana Field and regain the lead in the American League East.

Tampa Bay had no answer to Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta, who allowed a pair of walks but no hits while pitching into the seventh inning, striking out eight.

In stark contrast to his first start since Tyler Glasnow‘s injury, Rays starter Michael Wacha went pitch for pitch with Pivetta throught the first five.  He allowed just one hit and walked two while striking out seven on 75 pitches.

Boston would get Christian Vazquez to third base in the fifth, but stranded him there when Wacha got Bobby Dalbec to strike out.  Two innings later against Ryan Thompson with Hunter Renfroe at second base, Vazquez would single to center, but Kiermaier gunned Renfroe down at the plate to keep the game scoreless.

The Rays’ first hit wouldn’t come until one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Kevin Kiermaier doubled off Red Sox reliever Darwinzon Hernandez.  He would eventually be stranded at third base.

The game seemed destined for extra innings, but Manuel Margot singled off Red Sox closer Matt Barnes with two out in the bottom of the ninth, stole second and went to third when Vazquez’s throw sailed into center field.  Joey Wendle was intentionally walked and went to second on defensive indifference.  Barnes then bounced a curveball that got far enough away from Vazquez to allow Margot to scamper home and end the game.

The victory, the first in club history on a walk-off wild pitch, gives the Rays a one half-game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East.

Joe Maddon and the Los Angeles Angels come to Tropicana Field for a three-game series beginning Friday.  Andrew Kittredge (5-1, 1.27 ERA) will open the first game, taking on Griffin Canning (5-4, 5.07 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:10.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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