David Ortiz denied Tampa Bay Rays the perfect ten with his game-winning three-run homer to lead his Boston Red Sox side to a 3-2 victory at Tropicana Field on Sunday.
The result halted the Rays nine-game winning streak while simultaneously stopping the Red Sox’s five-game slide.
In a game which had chances few and far between, Ortiz made the most of a loose pitch from Chris Archer in the third inning.
With runners on first and second and Ortiz at 3-2, the pitch needed to be perfect, but Archer’s normally reliant change-up pitch failed him big time.
Instead of fading down and away from Ortiz, it stayed true and was promptly dispatched into the stands in right field.
Ortiz was the coolest man inside Tropicana Field as he watched his hit sail into the enthused fans. He flicked his bat back towards the Red Sox bench and calmly jogged around the bases with a wry smile on his face.
In fairness to the 38-year-old, he has seen it all before.
That one play was enough to win it for the Red Sox as Tampa Bay were restricted to just two runs by starting pitcher Allen Webster, who was making his first appearance in the Majors this season.
Both of the Rays’ runs came in the bottom half of the third frame when Curt Casali managed a walk and Kevin Kiermaier singled.
Desmond Jennings stepped up and smashed a two-run double to left-centre field but frustratingly for the Rays it proved to be their final runs of the game.
Despite playing against a vastly inexperienced pitcher in the shape of Webster, Tampa Bay hitters went one for seven with runners in scoring position.
What will please Red Sox manager John Farrell will be his team’s vast improvement across every area.
Everybody did their job and did it well, proving the quality of the 2013 World Series-winning team is still there.
Unfortunately if the Red Sox want to repeat last year’s success they have a huge turnaround job on their hands.
They sit on a 48-57 season record, 10.5 games behind American League East division leaders Baltimore Orioles.
Tampa Bay (51-54) will hope to continue their fine form in three series against play-off hopefuls in the shape of Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics.
Boston are preparing to take on Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in a three-game series this week.
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