ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Rays manager Joe Maddon is not so beholden to his charts and statistics to indulge the occasional hunch or wild notion.
So amid a streak where the Rays have lost four straight and seven of eight, Maddon joked on Thursday that he might have found the answer: he lost a prize pair of his iconic eyeglasses bought in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, just before the team left for a road trip where it made a spectacle of its postseason hopes with a 1-5 slide.
“I checked the car. I checked the house,” he joked, although he really wants the glasses back. “Please, if you find them ....”
The glasses were still nowhere to be found on Wednesday night, but the Rays relocated their offense, at least briefly, in a 13-3 rout of the Boston Red Sox.
All but eliminated from postseason contention because of a woeful offensive production during a stretch in which they lost four straight and seven of eight, the Rays erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning off four relievers to match their season-high for runs.
New York’s two wins on Wednesday dropped the Rays 6 1/2 games behind the American League East and 5 1/2 out of the wild card.
For a night, though, the Rays not only hit but eliminated defensive woes that have compounded problems, giving Maddon hope of a late rush.
“It’s nice when we pitch and play our defense,” he said. “That’s who we are.”
The Red Sox issued three bases-loaded walks in the game, two by reliever Andrew Miller in the sixth and committed two costly errors. Desmond Jennings tripled home two runs in the inning – he scored on the play on a throwing error – as the Rays sent 12 batters to the plate and matched a season-high for runs in a game.
“(That’s the) first time Andrew Miller walked a couple batters in a row in a long time,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “Well, that was it.”
The Rays averaged 2.85 runs in seven losses in their last eight games. Tampa Bay out-hit the Red Sox 15-5 and walked ten times, six in the sixth inning.
Rays rookie Chris Archer (1-3), who before the game was honored as the organization’s top minor league pitcher, struggled early but was good enough to last five innings and earn his first major league win.
“This is a classic example of keep the team in the game as long as you can and then they’ll pull it out for you,” Archer said. “It was big all-around tonight. It’s hard not to be selfish, but as a team it’s awesome we got the win and for it to be my first one. That’s pretty amazing, too.”
The Rays took a 5-3 lead in the fourth off Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had seven career losses against the Rays entering the game and hadn’t beaten them since 2008. Jeff Keppinger (3-for-4, two RBIs) led off the inning with his seventh homer of the season before Matt Joyce singled and Carlos Pena hit his 18th on the first pitch. Matsuzaka allowed five earned runs on nine hits in three full innings.
Reliever Jose Aceves fared almost as badly, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks to ignite the Rays’ decisive sixth.
Boston had taken a 3-1 lead after three innings with the help of two RBI singles by Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Rays tied the game 3-1 in the second by producing more hits – three – than in all of a 7-5 loss on Tuesday, but needed a bases-loaded walk by Matt Joyce to score. Tampa Bay cut the deficit to 3-2 in the third on a Ben Zobrist single, which scored Jennings (2-for-5), who had singled and stole his 28th base of the season.
“It’s been really hard to keep the positive going forward so far,” Matsuzaka said. “And as always, I’m really disappointed in myself putting my team in a hole.”
NOTES: Maddon believes starter David Price (18-5, 2.54 ERA) should win the American League Cy Young Award but said if the left-hander, who starts for the Rays on Thursday, can reach 20 wins, “that’ll be icing on the proverbial Cy Young cake” considering his “body of work.” Maddon said Price will make all of his remaining starts if healthy, regardless of the Rays’ playoff prognosis. Price is tied for the AL lead in wins and leads the majors in ERA. ... Maddon said hitting coach Derek Shelton should not be held responsible for the team’s prolonged offensive problems. He said players underperformed. ... Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 30 pitches of batting practice at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. ... Boston’s scheduled starter for Thursday, Clay Buchholz, has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of 12 career starts against the Rays. ... 3B Pedro Ciriaco is 15-for-15 on stolen base attempts, including one in the first that led to a run on Wednesday.
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