The Boston Red Sox are heading to the ALCS after beating the Rays 6-5 on Monday night. Boston wins the best of five series 3-1, and the Rays season has come to an end.
The Red Sox got a big lead early, as they put together a five-run third inning. Rafeal Devers hit a three-run home run, followed by a RBI double from Alex Verduga and a RBI single from J.D. Martinez to make it 5-0.
The Rays clawed their way back into this one, starting when Austin Meadows got a RBI groundout in the fifth. Then in the sixth inning, Wander Franko hit a two-run home run to make it 5-3. In the eighth inning Kevin Kiermaier came up with a RBI double to pull within 5-4 - the Rays were finally able to tie the game one batter later when Randy Arozarena drove Kiermaier in to make it 5-5.
In the bottom of the eighth Wander Franco committed an error at shortstop that allowed Alex Verdugo to reach. Then J.D. Martinez flew out to advance Verdugo to second base. With one out and a runner at second, Hunter Renfroe hit a fly ball to right center field that Kevin Kiermaier caught, and threw out Verdugo trying to advance to third base with a remarkable 8-5 double play.
After the Rays went quietly in the top of the ninth, Boston did their part in the bottom of the ninth. Christian Vazques singled to start the inning, then Christian Arroyo got him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Travis Shaw got an infield hit to third that moved Vazques to third base with only run out. Vazques was lifted for pinch runner Danny Santana, then Shaw took second on fielder's indifference to put runners at second and third with only one out. Tied 5-5, Kike Hernandez had the game in his hands, and did not disappoint, hitting a fly ball to Austin Meadows in left that was caught for the second out. Santana scored easily on the sacrifice, and the Red Sox walked off to the American League Championship Series.
Collin McHugh was effective as the opener, pitching two shutout innings, before giving way to the bullpen. The Red Sox got all five of their third inning runs off Shane McClanahan, before the rest of the Rays bullpen was able to steady the course. J.T. Chargois, Andrew Kittredge, Luis Patino, Josh Fleming and Pete Fairbank combined for five and one-third innings with none of them allowing a run. J.P. Feyereisen (0-1, 2.45) took the loss after allowing the sacrifice fly in the ninth. Garrett Whitlock (1-0, 0.00) picked up the win for the Red Sox, pitching two innings without allowing an earned run.
The Red Sox will now advance to face the winner of the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox series. Game four of that ALDS will be on Tuesday, with Houston leading the series 2-1.
For the Rays, their remarkable season ended short of where they hoped, after finishing the season with a 100-62 record. Keep it locked to 95.3 WDAE & AM 620 throughout the offseason for the absolute latest on Rays coverage.
PHOTO COURTESY GETTY IMAGES