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Pen torpedoes another rally
RED SOX 7, RAYS 4: Though Tampa Bay again comes back late, four relievers fail to keep Boston in check.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 19, 2006
Casey Fossum delivers during the second inning of a solid start. He left with a 2-1 lead in the seventh.
ST. PETERSBURG - Manager Joe Maddon went seriously deep in thinking up the radical defensive shift the Devil Rays used against Boston slugger David Ortiz that featured 41/2 outfielders.
But he may have to be even more creative in trying to figure out how to successfully use his assortment of relievers.
Even with Monday off and the addition of Chad Orvella swelling the bullpen to eight, it was not enough Tuesday as the Rays couldn't keep the Red Sox from coming back and lost a game, 7-4, they had a good chance to win.
"It happens. They've been doing a pretty good job overall, the bullpen has," Maddon said. "We're just trying to figure out roles right now. We almost wiggled our way out of it, but we didn't."
They almost rallied to at least tie in the ninth, with Boston centerfielder Adam Stern making a high-risk, huge-payoff diving catch with the bases loaded for the final out, but they didn't do that, either.
What made the defeat particularly disappointing was how well they did to get to that point. The offense, despite temperatures in the 40s, rallied again for key late runs, scoring twice in the seventh and eighth, including Ty Wigginton's team-high sixth homer. And starter Casey Fossum pitched effectively into the seventh, leaving with a 2-1 lead and a man on, having thrown 107 pitches.
Maddon was left with some interesting choices. He went first to Scott Dunn, a rookie in his eighth major-league game; then Shawn Camp, who has pitched well but has yet to spend a full season in the majors. But Ortiz doubled off Dunn and Manny Ramirez had a two-run single off Camp to put the Sox up 4-2.
The Rays tied it in the eighth, and Maddon then went to Ruddy Lugo, a rookie who jumped from Double A to the majors, then Orvella, who was just promoted from Triple A. Lugo allowed a double and a walk, then Orvella got two outs but gave up a two-run double to Kevin Youkilis and an RBI single to Mark Loretta.
Maddon admitted he put some inexperienced pitchers in tough situations before a Fenway Park crowd of 36,423.
"We did. We had to," Maddon said. "When Youkilis hit that ball I thought Orvella was going to get out of that.
"I just wanted to give Lugo a chance in that situation. ... Overall, we haven't really done well with multiple innings with our guys, so I really wanted to try to get through one inning apiece and try to piece it together as well as we could."
There were some good things, such as the ninth-inning rally that left Maddon proud and both Rays hitter Damon Hollins and Sox manager Terry Francona shaking their heads.
"I told (Stern) if that ball goes by him, just go out centerfield, go all the way out," Francona said.
The biggest question going into the teams' first meeting was whether there would be any carryover from the bench-clearing spring training melee when Boston reliever Julian Tavarez punched Rays outfielder Joey Gathright in the head, and there was not.
Maddon changed the topic of conversation in the first inning by unveiling an extremely radical shift against Ortiz, moving Wigginton from third base into leftfield and using a softball-style four-across outfield alignment, second baseman Jorge Cantu into shallow right-center and shortstop Tomas Perez a good 10 feet on the first-base side of second, leaving the left side of the infield unguarded.
"The guy is such a good hitter, we just wanted to try something a little bit different," said Maddon, who decided on some recent bike rides to do it. "We've been thinking about that one for a while."
The Rays used it the first two times Ortiz batted with no one on - "I'd never seen anything like that," Francona said - and he grounded out once to Perez and doubled off the wall the other time. "It was strange," Ortiz said. "If I'm 0-for-20 I might try to bunt down there."
The Rays considered it effective - and amusing.
"It looked like they were spelling out something in the outfield," Fossum said.
Said Wigginton: "It was the Steel Curtain 3-4 defense."