ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who knows if Wade Miley will be an ace, but Tuesday night he did what aces do.
The Red Sox lefty went toe-to-toe with Tampa Bay’s best starter, Chris Archer, and came out on top, leading the visitors to a 1-0 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Miley, who was coming off a horrific 2 1/3-inning, seven-run outing, didn’t allow a single run in his 5 2/3 frames. The quick-working southpaw held the offensively-challenged Rays to three hits, striking out three and walking four.
His counterpart, Archer, was just as tough, limiting the Red Sox to a lone unearned run. The righty fanned nine in just 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, putting his ERA at 1.07 for the young season.
The Red Sox only managed to put a dent in Archer’s line thanks to some aggressive baserunning by Mookie Betts in the third inning.
With one out and Betts at first with Ryan Hanigan 90 feet away at second, Dustin Pedroia grounded back to Archer for what looked like a sure-fire, inning-ending double play. But Betts slid hard into second baseman Ryan Brett, forcing the rookie’s to throw errantly to first for the game’s only run.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Miley. With the help of solid defense behind him, the lefty looked a whole lot more like the pitcher first time around the rotation than what the Red Sox got in his second start of the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– John Farrell played his cards right at one of the game’s most important moments. With two outs and the bases loaded, the Sox manager chose to take Miley after 88 pitches, replacing him with Alexi Ogando. The Sox reliever came on and induced an inning-ending ground out to shortstop off the bat of Desmond Jennings, who came into the at-bat 0-for-7 against the righty. It was the first time this season Ogando hadn’t let his inherited runners score, having been unsuccessful in his only other chance (with a pair scoring).
– Filling in at shortstop, Brock Holt impressed once again. This time the jack-of-all-positions dove behind the second base bag on Rene Rivera’s grounder, sprung to his feet and got the baserunner at first to end the second inning. He added an even more spectacular play to finish off the seventh, diving into the third base hole to gather Asdrubal Cabrera’s grounder before firing a strike to first baseman Daniel Nava.
– The Red Sox seemingly got a break in the sixth inning when a 2-minute, 6-second challenge went their way when video evidence suggested it shouldn’t. With one out and Brandon Guyer at first, Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval chose to get the force play at second on Steven Souza Jr.’s slow grounder. While it appeared as though Guyer narrowly beat the throw, the umpires upheld the original out call.
– Miley managed his second pickoff of the season, ruining Brett’s night further with the successful throw to first in the third. Making it an even worse night for the rookie infielder was the fact he partially dislocated his shoulder on the play.
– The combination of Ogando, Robbie Ross Jr., Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara held Tampa Bay scoreless for the final 3 1/3 innings.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Holt were the only three members of the Red Sox lineup not to garner at least one hit. Ortiz did walk, while Holt added a sacrifice bunt in the ninth.
– The Red Sox failed to capitalize on a threat in the ninth when they got Shane Victorino to third with one out after the outfielder’s leadoff double and Holt’s bunt. But Ryan Hanigan struck out against reliever Jose Dominguez, who then got Betts to fly out to left field.