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Oct 7, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57) is relieved during the second inning of game one of the 2021 ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox advanced to the ALDS behind efficient pitching and timely offense. In Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays, they had neither.

Eduardo Rodriguez left Thursday’s series opener after just 1.2 innings, throwing 41 pitches and only 24 of them for strikes, and gave up all the offense the Rays needed to take the loss in a 5-0 defeat at Tropicana Field. After a leadoff walk by Randy Arozarena, dynamic Rays rookie Wander Franco doubled to deep center field, long enough for Arozarena to score all the way from first base. Yandy Diaz tacked on a run in the first inning with an RBI infield hit.

Garrett Richards, who faced just one batter to finish the second inning, and Nick Pivetta combined to allow three more runs in five relief innings. But the Red Sox’ bats could never climb back into the game. They finished with nine hits on the night – all singles – and left eight runners on base.

Thursday’s Game 1 loss marked the first time the Red Sox were shut out in a postseason game since Game 2 of the 2016 ALDS against Cleveland. Starter Shane McClanahan led the way for the Rays with five shutout innings, allowing five hits with no walks. J.T. Chargois, David Robertson, and J.P. Feyereisen combined for four shutout innings to close out the second half of the game.

Boston will have Chris Sale on the mound in Game 2 on Friday, as the Sox look to even up the series before heading back home.

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