It was a day of arrivals — the late one to the ballpark by pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who won the first game of a Red Sox sweep, 5-1, and the arrival of Felix Doubront’s best performance in the majors, a 3-1 walkoff win.
It was a night of deliveries — the one Andrew Bailey didn’t execute in the nightcap to cost Doubront a much-deserved win and the one Jonny Gomes provided in the bottom of the ninth, a two-run blast into the Monster seats off Joel Peralta.
Gomes was so happy he punted his helmet. Though nobody was happier than Bailey, who, in his last appearance Saturday in Baltimore, allowed a Matt Wieters two-run homer and then hung on for the save.
So there were pockets of happiness, pockets of concern, but suffice to say, the Red Sox have something over the Rays, as they have won nine times in 11 meetings this season.
Gomes analyzed the Rays’ strategy after Daniel Nava worked a walk to lead off the inning.
“I guess bottom nine, nobody out, leadoff walk, possible bunt situation,” Gomes said. “I saw [Peralta] peek over, seeing if I was gonna square to bunt. It was in their mind.
“I was just looking for something to drive early in the count, thinking that he would throw a strike to see if I was bunting.”
And so Gomes hit the old reverse bunt – a homer.
“I guess you could argue that, yeah,” he said.
Gomes said all the right things about Bailey. He said that when a teammate is struggling, you have to pick him up. And he thinks this is the Red Sox’ trademark.
“I got him as dominant closer, I really do,” Gomes said. “Dominant stuff.
“With that being said, two people in this league who aren’t going to struggle this year: one is the MVP and the other is the Cy Young winner. Everyone else is going to go through peaks and valleys. If you got 24 guys picking up the guy that’s down, we’re going to be successful.”
Normally in that situation, with a righthander throwing, Mike Carp would normally have hit for Gomes, but Peralta is tougher against lefties than righties. So the left fielder got his chance.
“I’m in a situation where I can’t get on hot streaks because of my playing time, so I just got to be ready when my name is called,” Gomes said.
Nava’s second-inning solo homer had stood up until Bailey’s implosion.
He allowed Kelly Johnson’s leadoff homer to right. After getting two outs, he walked Ben Zobrist on four pitches. Third baseman Jose Iglesias made an excellent play on Evan Longoria’s grounder to end the inning.
Too bad for Doubront.
“No. I wasn’t disappointed,” he said. “That’s the game. We trust our closer and that happens. We got the win, that’s important. Just come out tomorrow and win the next game.”
Doubront pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits, while striking out six in 93 pitches.
“I needed this. I needed this to get more confidence,” he said. “Trust all my pitches and go to the next game and try to do the same. Stay on this page and stay like that. I’m gonna get better results and win games and have the team to win.”
As for Bailey, he knew what was going wrong.
“Yeah, I’m throwing the ball down the middle,” he said. “I just have to keep grinding through it, focus a little bit more, and, you know, I’ll get through it.
“I’ve pitched in this league for a couple of years now and had success. So I just got to get back to doing that.”
Bailey, who has given up five home runs in 22⅓ innings, said there are no physical issues and that he’s been watching video with pitching coach Juan Nieves and everything seems OK.
“I just got to start putting the ball in a better place,’’ he said. “I can’t fall behind guys and leave a fastball down the middle.”
Farrell said Bailey got hurt on the same pitch to Wieters — a fastball high in the strike zone, away. Farrell said that Bailey didn’t quite have that second speed on his fastball and his breaking stuff hasn’t been good enough to set up the fastball.
Some 10 hours earlier, Aceves got tied up in traffic and the Red Sox had Franklin Morales ready to warm up if the Game 1 starter couldn’t make it to Fenway Park on time. But Aceves (4-1) did and allowed one run in five innings.
David Ortiz drove in three runs, with a two-run single in the third and a single in the fifth before a mammoth rain delay that lasted a minute short of three hours. The Red Sox scored first off the Rays’ Chris Archer, an animated righty whose mound traits are reminiscent of former Red Sox righty Oil Can Boyd.
Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury (three hits) doubled, advanced on a long fly ball to center by Shane Victorino, and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.
Victorino also had a big game with a single, triple, RBI, stolen base, and two runs scored.
Aceves (4-1), who has now made three decent starts while going back and forth from Pawtucket, got a little walk-happy himself in the second inning when he started the inning by losing Longoria and James Loney. With one out, Luke Scott doubled in the tying run, but, after issuing a third walk, Aceves got out of it when Yuniel Escobar bailed him out with a double-play grounder to shortstop.
“He’s not a guy that reports to the clubhouse early to begin with, and he was a little delayed,” Farrell said. “But he had ample time to get loose inside and go out and throw his 25 pitches of warm-up.
“Much like we’ve talked about the unstructured ability to perform, today he was at it.”
The breakthrough for Boston came in the third inning. Again, it was Ellsbury starting things off with a single and Victorino sending a single to right and Ellsbury to third. After Victorino stole second base, Ortiz delivered with a one-out single up the middle to score both runners.
Ortiz had been upset with himself recently after a 3-for-26 road trip. After his first at-bat in the first, an inning-ending pop to left, he came back to the dugout and threw his helmet hard against the helmet rack.
“A solid performance by the hitters all the way around,” said Farrell. “David beat the shift and picked up a big RBI for us. We did a great job offensively with some big hits.”
The frustration seemed to leave him after that at-bat, and even more so when he drove in the Red Sox’ fourth run in the fifth inning. His single to right field scored Victorino, who had reached on a throwing error by Loney at first and moved up on Pedroia’s walk.
In the sixth, Ellsbury and Victorino, seemingly energized by the long delay, hit back-to-back triples into the right field corner to produce the fifth Red Sox run.
Aceves was long gone after the delay, but Junichi Tazawa came on with some dominating stuff in the sixth. He set the tone by striking out Red Sox killer Zobrist and Longoria before retiring Loney on a liner to left field.