The Red Sox and Rays are set to kick off their four-game set in a sparsely populated Tropicana Field. We'll keep you up-to-date as all the action goes down in St. Pete.
Red Sox 5, Rays 1, End 8th -- Another inning, another pair of strikeouts. That's just how Junichi Tazawa works.
Red Sox 5, Rays 1, Mid 8th -- Bobby Valentine doesn't pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias with two on and two outs, and what does it get him? Two stranded baserunners, that's what! No, seriously, though, I bet Daniel Nava was waiting with helmet and bat prepared.
Red Sox 5, Rays 1, End 7th -- Rich Hill replaces Aaron Cook and the Rays struggle against the sudden appearance of swing-and-miss stuff, giving Hill a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame.
Red Sox 5, Rays 1, Mid 7th -- The floodgates open. A single up the middle and a walk quickly send Alex Cobb back to the dugout, bringing Burke Badenhop into the game. He quickly gets a ground ball from Ryan Lavarnway, but Ben Zobrist can't make the play, allowing the catcher to reach, loading the bases. Mauro Gomez pinch hits for Scott Podsednik against J.P. Howell and singles a pair of runs in.
Jose Iglesias follows up by bunting him to second and Lavarnway on to third, provoking one of the more bizarre moves you'll ever see in a baseball game: the call from Joe Maddon to intentionally walk Pedro Ciriaco to get to Jacoby Ellsbury for the lefty-lefty matchup. The move gets not the result it was intended for, but the result it deserved: a line drive single that brings home a fifth run. Brandon Gomes is able to end the inning without further damage, but it's hard to see this one going back to the Rays any longer.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1, End 6th -- Cook stays staunch in the sixth, with a well-turned 3-6-1 double play erasing a leadoff single from B.J. Upton.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1, Mid 6th -- And one swing of the bat undoes the no-hitter, the shutout, and the Tampa Bay lead. Cobb gives up just his second baserunner of the night by hitting Jose Iglesias, giving the Sox enough life to extend the inning into the best part of the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury steps up to the plate, gets a 3-1 fastball that stays over the plate, and turns on it, launching a two-run shot into the right field stands making it 2-1, Boston.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 5th -- The Rays finally find a couple of holes with their ground balls, and it's good for what is so far the only run of the game. After a pair of singles, a safety squeeze from Ryan Roberts is enough to get the run in, with Loney charging and firing home in vain too late to keep Luke Scott from scoring.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 5th -- The no-hitter continues, though there's some more decent contact to go around, to the point where it's hard to imagine Cobb going all the way.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 4th -- Wrapping up what may be the quickest first half of a game so far this year, the Sox get around an infield single from B.J. Upton to start the inning with a pair of ground balls--the first of which erases Upton as the lead runner, the second of which starts a double play that gives them back the out he'd cost.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 4th -- The best contact the Sox have managed so far comes from Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth, but the ball is unfortunately placed, letting B.J. Upton glove it for the out.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 3rd -- A great bit of defense starts the inning off as Jose Iglesias makes a leaping over-the-shoulder grab on a line drive from Ryan Roberts that should, by rights, have been a base hit. Cook makes quick work of the next two batters, and we're headed to the fourth inside of an hour.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 3rd -- If fly balls were runs, the Red Sox would have two now! Unfortunately, they are not, and even as Cobb gives up his first pair of balls in the air, he gets his first pair of outs on them as well in a 1-2-3 third.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 2nd -- Nine pitches are all Cook needs to get through the second, though he's not managed to keep the ball as consistently down as he might hope. Only time will tell if that's a sign of impending doom, or if the Tampa lineup is too weak to take advantage.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- Cobb is 6-for-6 on keeping balls in play on the ground, and the defense is 6-for-6 in turning them into outs. He does surrender a two-out walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to get the Sox their first baserunner of the game, but so long as he keeps it to one baserunner an inning he's not going to have problems.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 1st -- One good bit of contact gets Ben Zobrist a line drive and single off of Cook, but generally speaking it's a good start for the ground ball specialist, complete with a rare leadoff strikeout against Desmond Jennings.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- The Sox suffer their first 1-2-3 inning of the series, and frankly against this pitching staff they should get used to it. While decent at bats from Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia keep Cobb from having an incredibly fast inning, it doesn't make it any less easy. One, two, and then three ground balls lead to three easy outs, even if Pedro Ciriaco was beaten by just half a step.