Red Sox beat Rays 1-0 in 16 innings

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After a pair of high-scoring games to start the series, the Red Sox and Rays put on a show of offensive ineptitude Sunday night, with Boston winning 1-0 in 16 innings.

It was the longest 1-0 game since the Brewers beat the Angels 1-0 on June 8, 2004, though the Mets and Cardinals played 18 scoreless innings before New York beat St. Louis 2-1 in 20 innings on April 17, 2010.  The Red Sox were on the losing end of a similar contest two years ago.  They fell 2-0 to the Yankees in 15 innings on Aug. 7, 2009.

The team’s combined to bat .078, which is even lower than Adam Dunn’s average this season.  The Red Sox were 5-for-52, while the Rays went 3-for-50.  Dustin Pedroia had three of Boston’s hits, including the go-ahead single that plated Josh Reddick in the 16th.

The starting pitchers were stellar, of course.  Josh Beckett, who left his last start in the first half with a hyperextended knee, pitched eight innings of one-hit ball.  Jeff Niemann allowed two hits while also going eight innings.  He fanned 10 tonight after failing to strike out more than six in any of his previous 10 starts this season.

It looked like Boston would go ahead in the 11th, but after three straight walks to start the frame, Reddick and Jason Varitek both struck out and Marco Scutaro popped out foul to the catcher.

The Red Sox walked 12 times in all.  They left 17 runners on base to the Rays’ six.

By winning two out of three this weekend, the Red Sox opened a seven-game gap on the Rays in the standings.  The Yankees are in second place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games back of Boston.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.