One ball fell between two outfielders. Another took a bad hop off the Green Monster standings. One batter reached safely on a dropped third strike and another when the pitcher was slow to cover first.
By the time it was over, the Boston Red Sox had scored five runs in the fourth inning, taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s bad luck and bad defense to beat the Rays, 12-2, on Friday in Game 1 of the AL division series.
Every Boston starter got a hit and scored a run. The Red Sox tweeted that it was the first time a team had done that in the postseason since 1936 — Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees did it in the World Series.
Needing a 163rd game to earn a wild-card berth, the Rays took three win-or-go home matchups in three different cities to reach this series. Now they need a victory in Game 2 today to tie the series before the teams shift to St. Petersburg, Fla., for Games 3 and 4.
Jon Lester allowed three hits in 72/3 innings for the AL East champions, giving up a pair of solo homers over the Monster by Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist to spot the Rays a 2-0 lead through the top of the fourth. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore had still not given up a hit.
But Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, and then David Ortiz hit a high fly ball that center fielder Desmond Jennings and rookie right fielder Wil Myers converged on. Myers raised his left hand to call off Jennings but let it fall behind him, bouncing off the warning track a few feet in front of the fence and into the bullpen for a double.
With a derisive cheer of “Myers” echoing through the ballpark, Mike Napoli popped up to second base for the first out before Jonny Gomes hit a fly ball that scraped the left-field wall on the way down. Pedroia held to tag up, then scored easily with Ortiz coming in just a few steps behind him to make it 2-2.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out before Stephen Drew hit a slow hopper to first that James Loney fielded and flicked to Moore. But the pitcher’s foot came down a split second after Drew’s and, with Moore facing the wrong way, Gomes never slowed down as he rounded third and scored without a throw.
Will Middlebrooks followed with a line drive to left that took a bad hop off the AL East standings and got past on the rebound. That allowed Drew to score and make it 4-2, while Middlebrooks went into second with a double. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a passed ball on strike three — which would have been the third out of the inning — and Middlebrooks moved to third, where he scored on Shane Victorino’s single to make it 5-2.
None of the misplays was scored an error.
The Detroit Tigers defeated the Oakland Athletics, 3-2, in Friday night’s other ALDS opener to take a 1-0 lead. Story was not available at press time.