Red Sox fans can breathe a little bit easier this morning.
Josh Beckett was solid in his return from a sprained ankle last night, allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings as the Red Sox defeated the Rays 4-3 to extend their lead in the AL Wild Card race to four games with 12 games remaining.
Beckett, who hadn’t pitched since September 5, threw the first quality start by a Red Sox pitcher since September 6. Mike Aviles, who played third base in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis, hit the decisive go-ahead solo homer off James Shields in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Rays stole a season-high seven bases in the loss.
The two teams will continue their four-game series later this afternoon when Jon Lester takes on Jeff Niemann.
Your Friday box scores:
Rays 3, Red Sox 4
Cardinals 4, Phillies 2 (11 innings)
Mets 12, Braves 2
Angels 3, Orioles 8
Astros 3, Cubs 4 (12 innings)
Marlins 3, Nationals 0
Yankees 4, Blue Jays 5
Brewers 6, Reds 3
White Sox 6, Royals 7
Indians 7, Twins 6
Tigers 3, Athletics 1
Giants 9, Rockies 1
Diamondbacks 0, Padres 2
Rangers 0, Mariners 4
Pirates 2, Dodgers 7
Braves starter Aaron Blair had a nightmarish bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. He had just given up a run on a Daniel Descalso triple hit to center field that center fielder Ender Inciarte read poorly. In the following at-bat, Ketel Marte laced a curve ball to right field. Sean Rodriguez wasn’t able to get to it in time, so the ball bounced off the fence and caromed back towards the stands along the right field line. By the time Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball, Marte was already on his way home and scored standing up.
The inside-the-park homer will certainly provide a boost to Marte’s stats. He entered Wednesday’s action batting .196/.255/.370 in 51 plate appearances.
Red Sox third base prospect Rafael Devers notched his first major league hit in style on Wednesday afternoon against the Mariners. The 20-year-old smashed a solo home run to straightaway center field, padding his team’s lead to 2-0 in the third inning.
Per MLB’s Stat of the Day Twitter account, Devers is currently the youngest player in baseball at 20 years and 275 days. He went 0-for-4 with a pair of walks and a run scored in Tuesday’s 13-inning loss to the Mariners.