First impressions from Red Sox' 3-0, 10-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
It didn't look good for the pitching staff in the first inning
Joe Kelly left the mound with what was later announced as a shoulder impingement. But the Sox got fantastic work from both Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr.
The two relievers combined for 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just three hits while striking out seven and walking none.
It could have been an ugly night with 8 2/3 innings of outs to get from the bullpen, but the two saved the day.
Unfortunately for Hembree, with the bullpen maxed out Tuesday and the need for fresh arms, he'll probably be rewarded with a return trip to Pawtucket.
It may be time for Mookie Betts to be dropped from the leadoff spot
Betts was 0-for-4 Tuesday night and 2-for-21 with five strikeouts. He seems to be pressing, and as John Farrell noted before Tuesday's game, occasionally expanding the strike zone.
Problem is, the Red Sox don't have a natural replacement. Dustin Pedroia is a possibility for the short-term, but he's not exactly white hot, either, to say nothing of the fact that he's said in the past he prefers not to hit leadoff. When Brock Holt returns to the lineup, he could be a possibility.
The Sox can't seem to solve Drew Smyly
On Tuesday, he limited the Sox to a single hit over eight scoreless innings, at one point retiring 17 hitters in a row. He retired the side in order in every inning except the third when two walks and a ground ball single from Jackie Bradley Jr. loaded the bases with no outs.
But Smyly got Mookie Betts to ground into a fielder's choice as Chris Young was cut down at the plate and then induced an inning-ending double play from Dustin Pedroia.
Over the last two seasons, Smyly has allowed one run in the last 26 1/3 innings against the Red Sox.
Third base coach Brian Butterfield made the right call in the third.
The Sox had runners at first and second and no out when Jackie Bradley hit a ground ball up the middle for a single. Butterfield, in recognition of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's arm, held Chris Young at third.
Kiermaier has a plus-plus arm in center, and the Sox had the top of order coming up with, again, no out.
A fielder's choice by Mookie Betts forced Young at the plate and Dustin Pedroia then hit into an inning-ending double play. And, of course, the Sox didn't score any runs at all the rest of the way.
Still, given the circumstances and Kiermaier's arm strength, it was prudent thing to do.