Eduardo Rodriguez couldn’t make it through two innings, and the Red Sox’ bats never woke up as they dropped Game 1 of the American League Division Series, 5-0, to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Chris Sale will be on the mound for Game 2, which begins Friday at 7:02 p.m.
Rookie phenom Wander Franco, the second batter faced by Rodriguez, sent Randy Arozarena home on an RBI double in the bottom of the first. Yandy Díaz knocked Franco in to make the score 2-0.
Garrett Richards came in to finish out the second, and then Sox manager Alex Cora turned to Nick Pivetta.
Pivetta went 4 ⅔ innings, allowing another two runs — both homers, one to Nelson Cruz and one to Arozarena — while walking two and striking out four.
Then, with Josh Taylor in to close out the seventh, Arozarena sealed up the game by making a daring steal of home.
Taylor, a lefty, didn’t appear to see the left fielder until he was three-quarters of the way down the third-base line. Christian Vázquez had no chance at a tag.
Arozarena became the first player in postseason history to homer and steal home in the same game.
The Red Sox did not walk once, and had no extra-base hits. They went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
Here’s how the game unfolded.
Three things the Sox need to do in Game 2 — 11:16 p.m.
1. Chris Sale needs to put together a quality start. The Red Sox did a good job of preserving their bullpen, but Sale needs to give them innings.
2. Since the bullpen is rested, they need to be ready, too. They have an off day Saturday, so don’t be surprised if Cora is more aggressive with his high-leverage guys.
3. The Red Sox need to put together better at-bats and slug. They didn’t draw a walk in this game and failed to record an extra-base hit.
Red Sox lose, 5-0 — 11:14 p.m.
Chris Sale will take the mound for Game 2.
The numbers behind the Sox’ quiet bats — 11:04 p.m.
The Red Sox are 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They’ve left eight men on base after that Hunter Renfroe pop out in foul territory with the bases loaded.
Red Sox leave bases loaded in top of eighth — 11:01 p.m.
The Red Sox squandered their best chance at rallying when Rafael Devers struck out and Hunter Renfroe popped out to end the top of the eighth.
It’s Rays 5, Sox 0. Boston has three outs left to make something happen.
Inside Arozarena’s steal of home — 10:48 p.m.
Randy Arozarena all but put a stamp on this game by stealing home to put the Rays up 5-0.
Josh Taylor, a lefty, didn’t see Arozarena until he was three-quarters of the way down the line.
He became the first player to do it in the postseason since Javy Baez for the Cubs in 2016.
Wow — 10:45 p.m.
Randy Arozarena just stole home on Josh Taylor to make it 5-0, Rays.
Tonight’s attendance — 10:43 p.m.
Attendance at Champa Bay's Tropicana Field tonight: 27,419.— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) October 8, 2021
Why Alex Cora played the long game with Nick Pivetta — 10:40 p.m.
Alex Cora played the long game as long as he could.
He allowed Pivetta to go 4⅔ innings before lifting him with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after he walked Randy Arozarena and allowed a double to Wander Franco.
This is a five-game series, and Pivetta going longer allows Cora to preserve most of his high-leverage relievers.
But he opted for Josh Taylor, a high-leverage guy, to take over for Pivetta and try to get the Sox out of the bottom of the seventh without allowing another run.
Pivetta’s final line: 4⅔ innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 BBs, 4 Ks.
By the numbers: Red Sox at the plate — 10:30 p.m.
The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. Boston has no extra-base hits and has yet to draw a walk.
All six of their hits are singles, and they have 11 ground-ball outs. A combination like that won’t get you very far in the playoffs.
Ex-Yankee David Robertson on for Rays — 10:21 p.m.
David Robertson, the longtime New York Yankee, is on for the Rays as they enter the top of the seventh.
He will try to hold onto a four-run lead.
Looking ahead to Game 2 — 10:15 p.m.
Chris Sale will be on the mound for the Sox in Game 2.
Sale looked truly uncomfortable Sunday in the regular-season finale in Washington. His teammates salvaged the woeful 2⅓-inning start and 2-0 hole he left them in —the first run he gave up was a homer on a change-up — to rally for a 7-5 victory that clinched the top AL wild card spot.
He thinks that is about to change.
“I think the biggest flaw in that is the consistency,” said Sale. “You know, I worked a lot this week, I was able to work a lot this week on my mechanics and getting a better arm action and just feeling more comfortable on the mound.” — Michael Silverman
What to know about the Rays bullpen — 10:12 p.m.
The Rays largely depend on their bullpen to navigate games.
Tampa’s relief corps has tossed the most innings in the majors (703) and had the third-lowest ERA (3.24) during the regular season, behind just the Giants and the Dodgers.
What the numbers say about this Rays lead — 10:10 p.m.
From Alex Speier: The largest blown lead of the year for the Rays was four runs. They were 65-7 (.903) when leading after five innings this year.
Mid-6th: Rays 4, Sox 0.
J. T. Chargois on for Rays — 10:05 p.m.
J. T. Chargois is in for starter Shane McClanahan.
McClanahan’s final line: 5 innings, 5 hits, 3 Ks, 0 runs.
Nick Pivetta prone to HRs — 10:04 p.m.
Pivetta is prone to the home-run ball, and yielded four against the Blue Jays on June 12.
He allowed 1.40 homers per nine innings this season, which ranked 21st in the majors.
Arozarena makes it 4-0 — 9:58 p.m.
He hit a bomb off Pivetta.
Watch it here:
Arozarena has averaged one homer per 21.9 PAs in the regular season.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 8, 2021
He's averaged one per 8.5 PAs in the playoffs.
Rays lead, 4-0.
What McClanahan is doing right — 9:53 p.m.
McClanahan has been tough all evening and is spotting his fastball on both sides of the plate.
He threw back-to-back heaters on the outer half against Kyle Schwarber in the top of the fifth, then wasted a curveball on the outer half.
He then changed eye direction and busted Schwarber in on the hands with another fastball for a ground out to get out of the inning.
Fairbanks warming for Rays — 9:51 p.m.
Pete Fairbanks is warming in the bullpen for Tampa. McClanahan is at 78 pitches with two outs in the top of the fifth.
Sox trail, 3-0, entering top of the fifth — 9:44 p.m.
The Sox will send Vázquez, Arroyo, and Hernández — their 8, 9, and 1 hitters — to the plate against McClanahan.
What the Sox did right in the top of the fourth — 9:37 p.m.
The Red Sox did a great job of making McClanahan work that inning, forcing him to toss 29 pitches.
The Rays have one of the better relief groups in the game, and the Sox need to continue to put together quality at-bats against McClanahan like they did in that fourth inning.
Sox leave two on base in top of fourth — 9:35 p.m.
The Sox got two hits off McClanahan, but left two on base.
What Nick Pivetta needs to do in relief — 9:19 p.m.
Nick Pivetta will essentially serve as the long reliever in this game and will try to redeem himself from his last start at Tropicana Field (5 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 5 walks, 6 Ks on Aug. 30).
Pivetta’s season has been a mixed bag, but he’s proven that he could be reliable in short spurts.
Sox fall victim to the Tropicana roof — 9:14 p.m.
Typical Tropicana Field on that Nelson Cruz homer. A ball that hits either the C-ring of the catwalk or the D-ring of the roof is a homer.
It was Cruz’s 33rd home run of the season and his 18th postseason home run.
Rays 3, Sox 0.
Nick Pivetta on for bottom of third — 9:10 p.m.
Cora will need to navigate the use of the bullpen.
Sox need to get in comeback mode — 9:08 p.m.
From Alex Speier: The Red Sox were 8-11 this year against the Rays. Of the eight wins, five were of the comeback variety.
Why Alex Cora didn’t wait to pull Rodriguez — 9:00 p.m.
Alex Cora with the quick hook with Rodriguez isn’t a shocker.
Rodriguez was bad this season, posting a 4.74 ERA in 157 ⅔ innings of work.
With the top of the order up, Rodriguez would have been in trouble.
The other times Rodriguez has gone 1 ⅔ innings or fewer?
He had a one-inning start in the migraine game this year against the Yankees, and two 1 ⅔-inning starts in which he was ineffective (one in ‘15, one in ‘17).
Early hook for ERod — 8:54 p.m.
And that’s it for Eduardo Rodriguez. Alex Cora opted to go to the bullpen after just one go through the lineup.
Final line: 1⅔ innings, 2 hits, 2 runs, 0 BBs, 3 Ks.
According to Speier, it’s the 10th postseason start of fewer than 2 innings by a Red Sox. The most recent was a 1 ⅔-inning start by David Price against the Yankees in Game 2 of the 2018 ALDS.
Garrett Richards warming up for Red Sox — 8:44 p.m.
Garrett Richards warming up.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 8, 2021
Sox’ exit velocities in top of second — 8:43 p.m.
The Sox had some good swings off McClanhan in that second frame despite not stringing together a run. Hunter Renfroe, Alex Verdugo, and Bobby Dalbec registered 97.1, 102.5, 105.3 exit velocities, respectively.
How Eduardo Rodriguez can stay in this game — 8:40 p.m.
The leadoff walks can be a back breaker against a team like the Rays.
In order for Rodriguez to stick in this game he needs to produce quick outs and establish the inner quadrants of the strike zone.
What to watch with Shane McClanahan — 8:34 p.m.
Rays starter Shane McClanahan retired the side in the top of the first.
He’s got an upper-90s fastball, but what makes him tough to hit is his devastating slider/curve.
Opponents hit just .198 against his slider and .202 vs. his curveball. Expect that to be a huge part of his repertoire.
Rodriguez finally gets out of first — 8:32 p.m.
Rodriguez threw 22 pitches in the first, 13 of them for strikes.
Franco scores to make it 2-0 — 8:27 p.m.
Randy Díaz knocked the second run of the game, sending Franco home on a single.
Wander Franco knocks in first run — 8:22 p.m.
After Eduardo Rodriguez walked the first batter, Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco knocked in the first run of the game on an RBI single. Rays 1, Sox 0.
Rays lineup — 8:18 p.m.
Here’s the Rays lineup against Eduardo Rodriguez:
RAYS (100-62): Arozarena OF, Franco SS, Lowe 2B, Cruz DH, Diaz 3B, Luplow 1B, Margot OF, Zunino C, Kiermaier OF.
McClanahan hits 100 mph — 8:17 pm.
Whoa - McClanahan dials up 100 mph to punch out Devers to close out the first. Usually, his fastball has good velocity but modest swing/miss rates (9%) while the slider is the wipeout pitch (21%). But in the first, both were nasty.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 8, 2021
Red Sox lineup — 8:09 p.m.
Here’s the Sox lineup against rookie Shane McClanahan:
Hernández CF, Schwarber DH, Bogaerts SS, Devers 3B, Renfroe RF, Verdugo LF, Dalbec 1B, Vázquez C, Arroyo 2B.
Three keys for the Red Sox — 8:05 p.m.
Here are the three keys to this game for the Red Sox:
1. Eduardo Rodriguez needs to be consistent with his stuff in the strike zone and avoid the walks.
2. The Sox need to zero in on defense and base running. The Rays pay attention to detail and make you pay for your mistakes.
3. The Sox need to set the tone and get out ahead early against a young Tampa pitching corps.
Old friends — 7:54 p.m.
Did you know Sox manager Alex Cora and Rays manager Kevin Cash played together in Boston in 2007 and 2008?
What history tells us — 7:52 p.m.
From the Red Sox game notes: This is the Red Sox’ 14th appearance in the ALDS. They’ve gone on to the ALCS each of the last five times they’ve won Game 1 of the ALDS — 2004, 2007, 2008, 2013, and 2018.
This is the third time the Rays and Sox have met in the postseason. (The first was the 2008 ALCS, second the 2013 ALDS). The Sox are 6-5 against the Rays in the post season.
Astros take Game 1 over White Sox — 7:44 p.m.
The Houston Astros handled the Chicago White Sox easily to win Game 1 of the other ALDS.
The winner advances to the winner of Sox-Rays.
Follow the game with the Globe team — 7:42 p.m.
Dan Shaughnessy offered an interesting note ahead of the game: Tonight, his streak of covering Red Sox postseason games in person ends at 133.
Starting with Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, I have attended 135 consecutive Red Sox postseason games (plus the 1978 playoff). Have covered the last 133 in person. Streak ends tonight. Covering from home.— Dan Shaughnessy (@Dan_Shaughnessy) October 7, 2021
We have five writers covering the game, some from home, and some at Tropicana Field. Follow along with:
What to know about Rays’ starter McClanahan — 7:17 p.m.
The Red Sox have seen McClanahan three times this season and got the best of him Sept. 2, tagging the lefthander for four earned runs over five innings despite McClanahan racking up eight strikeouts. Like all the Rays pitchers, McClanahan features an upper-90s four-seam fastball, but hitters can get to that as indicated by its .301 opponent batting average.
Where he separates himself is with his dominant slider (.198, 39.9 pct. whiff rate) and curveball (.202, 41.9). It’s helped him put together a 2.81 ERA in those three outings against the Sox.
J.D. Martinez looks sharp in batting practice — 7:07 p.m.
J.D. Martinez is available to pinch hit tonight after missing Tuesday’s Wild Card Game due to an ankle injury.
Here’s a look at his cuts:
The mystery of the mound at Tropicana Field — 7:05 p.m.
After outings, pitchers review data about their physical, mechanical, and performance details. Among the factors they’ll examine: Velocity, spin, release point, pitch movement, and extension toward the plate.
Statcast data — collected using the Hawk-Eye system, which employs 12 high-speed cameras around the park, including five that are focused on tracking pitches — has made such information easily accessible. And after Chris Sale’s start Sept. 1, the normal postgame review left several Red Sox with raised eyebrows about the mound at Tropicana Field.
On average, Sale’s extension on his four-seam fastball — meaning how far in front of the rubber toward the plate he released the ball — from that start in Tampa Bay was calculated at nearly 6 feet, 10 inches toward the plate, roughly a half-foot more than his average release point in all but one start he’d made to that point in his Sox career.
So, what’s up with the mound? Alex Speier explores the mystery here.
Red Sox and Rays lineups — 6:24 p.m.
Here are the lineups for tonight:
RED SOX (92-70): Hernández CF, Schwarber DH, Bogaerts SS, Devers 3B, Renfroe RF, Verdugo LF, Dalbec 1B, Vázquez C, Arroyo 2B.
Pitching: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8, 4.74 ERA)
RAYS (100-62): Arozarena OF, Franco SS, Lowe 2B, Cruz DH, Diaz 3B, Luplow 1B, Margot OF, Zunino C, Kiermaier OF.
Pitching: LHP Shane McClanahan (10-6, 3.43 ERA)
Red Sox vs. McClanahan: Jonathan Araúz 0-3, Xander Bogaerts 0-3, Bobby Dalbec 2-6, Rafael Devers 3-8, Kiké Hernández 2-6, J.D. Martinez 2-7, Kevin Plawecki 0-4, Hunter Renfroe 3-8, Kyle Schwarber 1-4, Alex Verdugo 0-1, Christian Vázquez 1-6
Rays vs. Rodriguez: Randy Arozarena 4-11, Mike Brosseau 1-3, Nelson Cruz 5-27, Yandy Díaz 7-17, Wander Franco 2-9, Kevin Kiermaier 1-12, Brandon Lowe 4-13, Jordan Luplow 2-6, Manuel Margot 4-12, Austin Meadows 1-10, Francisco Mejía 2-5, Taylor Walls 1-5, Joey Wendle 1-2, Mike Zunino 4-11
What to know about the Sox’ ALDS roster — 6:21 p.m.
Other notable elements of the 26-man ALDS roster announced by the Red Sox on Thursday morning:
• Lefthander Chris Sale, who was not on the Wild Card roster, was added for the ALDS. He’s expected to start Game 2.
• With the Sox carrying 13 pitchers, the team had to reduce its position-playing group from 14 in the Wild Card game to 13 while also accommodating the return of Martinez. That reduction meant three players who were on the Wild Card roster were removed from the ALDS roster: third catcher Connor Wong, pinch-runner/outfielder Jarren Duran, and infielder Jonathan Araúz.
• In place of those three, in addition to Martinez, the Sox added super-utility player Danny Santana to the Division Series roster. Santana can serve as a pinch-runner while also offering positional insurance in both the infield and outfield – in essence, consolidating the roles of Duran and Araúz.
• Righthanded reliever Matt Barnes was not among the 13 pitchers on Boston’s ALDS roster.
While the 2021 All-Star was on the Wild Card roster, with more potential innings to cover in a five-game series – and with Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta both starting rather than completely available out of the bullpen – Barnes, who struggled down the stretch and was used solely in lower-leverage situations, was left off the roster. Martín Pérez was added to the roster.
— Alex Speier
Red Sox ALDS roster: J.D. Martinez back — 6:20 p.m.
Designated hitter/outfielder J.D. Martinez is on the Red Sox roster for the American League Division Series against the Rays.
The slugger’s status for the best-of-five series had been in question after he rolled his left ankle while jogging out to right field in Sunday’s regular season finale against the Nationals. He was left off the Sox’ roster for the Wild Card Game against the Yankees, with manager Alex Cora saying that the injury had to be “very serious for him not to post.”
But Martinez worked out on the field at Tropicana Field on Wednesday’s off-day, and evidently the Red Sox were sufficiently satisfied with his improvement to put him on the roster. He is not in the lineup for Game 1, but Cora said he was available for pinch-hitting duties.
The Red Sox’ Division Series roster is as follows:
Pitchers (13): Ryan Brasier, Austin Davis, Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock
Catchers (2): Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez
Infielders (5): Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw
Outfielders (4): J.D. Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo
Infielder/Outfielders (2): Kiké Hernández, Danny Santana
— Alex Speier
ERod the mound for the Sox tonight — 6:20 p.m.
Eduardo Rodriguez was a 21-year-old prospect with a good arm and a reputation for not being a particularly hard worker when the Red Sox acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles in 2014.
Seven and a half years later, Rodriguez has a World Series ring, a wife and two kids, and the third-most strikeouts by a lefthander in franchise history.
“Everything changes,” he said. “I’m at a better place.”
What Rodriguez does not have is a postseason moment he can call his own.
That could change Thursday night when he faces Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Tropicana Field.
After lengthy internal discussions, the Sox decided to go with Rodriguez and use Nick Pivetta out of the bullpen. Chris Sale is lined up for Game 2. — Peter Abraham
What’s ahead for the Red Sox — 6:15 p.m.
The American League Division Series is a best-of-five, and Tampa Bay has home-field advantage. Here’s a look at the full schedule:
Game 1: Red Sox at Rays, Thursday, Oct. 7, 8:07 p.m. (FS1)
Game 2: Red Sox at Rays, Friday, Oct. 8, 7:02 p.m. (FS1)
Game 3: Rays at Red Sox, Sunday, Oct. 10, 4:07 p.m. (Fox, FS1, MLB Network, TBS)
Game 4 (if necessary): Rays at Red Sox, Monday, Oct. 11, TBA (Fox, FS1, MLB Network, TBS)
Game 5 (if necessary): Red Sox at Rays, Wednesday, Oct. 13, TBA (FS1)
If the Red Sox can get past the Rays, they’ll face the winner of the other ALDS — the Astros vs. the White Sox. Here’s the full postseason schedule.