Boston Red Sox

Jul 24, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (20) comes out and reacts to umpires about the lineup change during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson,

After taking the first two games and pulling themselves within striking distance of a wild card spot, the Red Sox were unable to pull off the three-game sweep of the Rays on Wednesday afternoon, dropping a 3-2 final at Tropicana Field.

Boston started this game with a familiar trend of the series, though, as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead over Charlie Morton and the Rays behind a two-run single from Rafael Devers in the top of the third.

But the Rays responded with a solo home run from Tommy Pham in the bottom of the fourth, and rattled off a pair of runs on three straight hits to begin the bottom of the fifth to grab a 3-2 lead over David Price through five innings of play.

Offense was tough to come by for each team, as Price finished with just four hits allowed and eight strikeouts through six innings, while Morton bested him by way of a seven-inning effort featuring just five hits, two runs, and 11 strikeouts.

But the Red Sox were certainly within striking distance, entering the eighth inning down by just a single run.

Then Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to give us all an ice cream headache.

Wanting to keep lefty Tyler Kolarek available to against Devers, Cash decided to move Kolarek to first base after retiring Sam Travis, bringing Chaz Roe in for one batter. Moving Kolarek (the pitcher) to first, subbing out first baseman Ji-Man Choi in the process, was supposed to take the designated hitter out of action. But then, after a 19-minute delay to review and go over all the substitutions and the legalities of it all, Kolarek moved back to the mound for Devers. And the Rays kept their DH.

You by all means had 20 minutes of five guys staring at lineup cards trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

To simplify this (god knows it needs it), the Rays essentially tried to play a 10-man lineup. You’re not allowed to do that.

“They brought in the lefty and then they brought in Roe for Choi. Angel [Hernandez], they kept the DH at that moment, so they had a pitcher, a first base, they had a pitcher on the mound and they still had a DH,” Alex Cora said after the loss. “It’s kind of hard to explain. I’m sorry I can’t, like, go over it because there’s a lot. It’s just illegal substitution.”

With all that shuffling, Cora and the Sox finished the game playing it under protest.

“We’ll see what happens,” Cora said of the protest.

The Red Sox begin a four-game series against the Yankees tomorrow night at Fenway Park.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.