Sweeping the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park is a feat the Tampa Bay Rays haven't accomplished since 2010. And no team has been able to do so since 2017.
But as they say (whoever they are), all things must come to an end, as the Rays defeated the Red Sox at Fenway 9-4, completing the three-game sweep, and shaving another half game off the deficit to the New York Yankees in the American League East.
It was a mix of players who started the season with the club, and newcomers acquired at the trade deadline, who contributed to the win.
New acquisitions Jesus Aguilar, Eric Sogard and Nick Anderson all played key roles in stretching the Rays' record to 8-1 at Fenway this season, the most by a visiting team since the 1966 Baltimore Orioles.
Aguilar reached base four times, with two walks and two singles and scored twice, Sogard was 2-for-4, and also scored twice, both times on pitches that got past Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon, and Anderson impressed with a scoreless inning after surrendering a leadoff double to Andrew Benintendi in the eighth.
Tommy Pham added two run-scoring doubles, and Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows padded the Rays' leads with long home runs, as the Rays' offense put up runs in the half-innings after Boston scored, quieting the Fenway faithful, and even arousing a few boos from the stands as fans exited early.
This wasn't one of those nail-biter games, as after the Rays scored three in the top of the second to take a 4-2 lead, there was a palatable sense of acceptance from the crowd that the Rays were not there to be an easy foil after having taken three of four from the Yankees last weekend.
And the three runs scored that inning were deflating because of how the Rays scored those runs. After Boston took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Xander Bogaerts off Brendan McKay, Aguilar led the inning off with a walk from Bosox starting pitcher Andrew Cashner and advanced to second on a Sogard single. Zunino then worked a walk, and after a Willy Adames strikeout, Cashner walked Ji-Man Choi to force in a run and tie the game.
On the very next pitch to Pham, Leon was charged with a passed ball, scoring Sogard, and giving the Rays a lead they would not give up. Pham then ripped a double off the center field wall, scoring Zunino, but the relay throw home nabbed Choi at the plate.
There was no more scoring until the bottom of the fifth, when Bogaerts again took McKay deep, a solo shot that cut the lead to 4-3. But the Rays answered right back in the top of the sixth, breaking the game open.
Aguilar hit a rope off the Green Monster with one out for a long single. Sogard then followed with a double, and once again, Zunino walked to load the bases for Adames, who promptly hit a double play ball that should have ended the inning. But the play was slow to develop, and Adames beat the throw to first, allowing Aguilar to score. Then Red Sox reliever Darwinzon Hernandez unleashed a wild pitch while facing Pham, scoring Sogard from third. Then Pham laced another RBI double, this one down the right field line, to score Adames and give the Rays a 7-3 lead.
The solo shots by Zunino and Meadows came as insurance in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.
*The Rays now trail the Yanks by seven games, though the Bombers do have four games in hand. Tampa Bay also holds a half game lead over Oakland for the second wild card berth, and trail the Cleveland Indians by one and a half games for the first wild card spot.
*Brendan McKay got his second win, going 5.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with a walk and and seven strikeouts.
*The Rays are off Friday and return home for a quick two-game series against the Miami Marlins on Saturday and Sunday. The Rays have yet to name their starting pitcher, while the Marlins will go with right-hander Eliser Hernandez (1-4 4.93 ERA).