It took until the bottom of the 13th, and with a little help from Rule 5.05 (8) before Christian Vazquez sent a homer into the Green Monster seats, but the Boston Red Sox have grabbed a 2-1 series lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in their ALDS war.
In what was becoming an absolute marathon affair, it was Game 4 starter turned Game 3 savior Nick Pivetta who carried the Red Sox through the extra-innings session. On the mound for four innings of high-leverage work, the Canadian pitched with some serious onions, and struck out seven while allowing just four baserunners over his outing.
And Pivetta got help from the aforementioned rule that kept the Rays off the board in the top of the 13th.
With Yandy Diaz on first, a deep shot to right field by Tampa’s Kevin Kiermaier bounced off the wall with a ton of spin, and immediately bounced off Red Sox outfielder Hunter Renfroe and over the wall, which sent everyone into the complete unknown. Diaz crossed home for the would-be go-ahead run, Kiermaier stood on third with a bewildered look wondering why he was stopped, and the Red Sox were motioning for who-the-hell-knows=what all over the place.
So it was to an official review, where Diaz was sent back to third, Kiermaier sent to second, and with the Red Sox given a second life with the play ruled a simple ground-rule double.
And Pivetta didn’t miss on his second chance, striking out Mike Zunino to escape danger.
Five hours before that insanity, things got off to a rocky start for the Red Sox as the Rays’ Austin Meadows hammered a two-run shot off Nathan Eovaldi in the top of the first inning to put Tampa out to a 2-0 edge. But the Red Sox made sure to counter as soon as possible, and it was Kyle Schwarber who put the Sox on the board with a solo shot to begin the bottom of the first.
It would be the first of six straight leadoff hits for the Boston offense, and the first of two leadoff homers for the Red Sox, as Kiké Hernandez blasted a homer to kick things off in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Hernandez solo blast actually made history for the Sox, too, as it tied the franchise postseason record for extra-base hits in a single series (five), joining a group that includes Carl Yastrzemski (1967 World Series), John Valentin (1999 ALDS), and Kevin Youkilis (twice, in both the 2007 and 2008 ALCS).
Meadows’ first-inning homer would be the only blemish on Eovaldi’s line by the end of his night, as the team’s early postseason hero departed with just two earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts to his name in five innings of work.
And though the move to the Boston bullpen paid off with some key outs from Josh Taylor, Ryan Brasier, and Austin Davis, the Red Sox finally ran into trouble with Tampa upon their move to the then-untouchable Hansel Robles.
It started with a Wander Franco solo shot into the Monster, and the Rays’ pushed culminated in a 4-4 tie when Randy Arozarena finally broke out of his mini-cold spell and doubled home Manuel Margot.
But the Red Sox managed to finally stop the bleeding with a turn to Garrett Whitlock for four outs (three strikeouts).
The Red Sox will look to eliminate the Rays in Game 4 on Monday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.