Denard Span hit a three-run triple off Carson Smith with two outs in the eighth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays earned a 6-4 comeback victory against the Boston Red Sox in both teams’ season opener Thursday at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tampa Bay entered the eighth down 4-0. Matt Duffy’s RBI double three batters into the inning was followed by a bases-loaded walk from Smith (0-1) after Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly allowed an RBI double and walked three while facing just five batters.
Adeiny Hechavarria (2-for-4), who had the Rays’ only hit through seven innings after Boston’s Chris Sale tossed six one-hit innings with nine strikeouts, drove in Span with an infield single to cap the scoring.
Chris Archer allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts in a six-inning no-decision for Tampa Bay. Austin Pruitt got the win with two scoreless innings of relief and Alex Colome picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.
Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer and Rafael Devers also had two RBIs for Boston, which had its string of three straight Opening Day victories snapped and fell to 58-59-1 all-time in season openers.
Sale issued three walks in his outing while Kelly was charged with four runs in one-third of an inning.
The Rays finished 13 games behind American League East-champion Boston last season to finish third in the division.
Newly acquired Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez went 0-for-3 with a run and two strikeouts in his debut. Xander Bogaerts finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.
After a Martinez walk and a Bogaerts double to start the second inning, Devers drove in Martinez on a groundout to shortstop to open the scoring.
Nunez followed with his in-the-parker on a bloop hit to center field that Rays outfielders Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier misplayed and let roll post them. Once the ball was recovered, the relay throw home bounced off the mound to allow Nunez to slide in safely.
It was the first inside-the-park homer on Opening Day for the Red Sox since Carl Yastrzemski’s on April 10, 1968, in Detroit.
Devers doubled home Boston’s final run two batters into the seventh after Bogaerts’ double.
Boston left-hander David Price and Tampa Bay southpaw Blake Snell make their season debuts in the second game of the teams’ four-game series Friday night. Price spent his first six-plus major league seasons with the Rays.
—Field Level Media