It was a game of mistakes. Fielding mistakes, pitching mistakes, maybe even some managerial mistakes. And the winner was the team that capitalized on those mistakes just a little bit more than the loser.
The play of the game was Evan Longoria's 3-run homer in the 5th. If Clay Buchholz is able to get Longoria out, or even hold him to a 1-run or 2-run hit, then the game plays out in a completely different way. All Buchholz had to do in that at-bat was not give up a homerun. Longoria won that battle.
The Rays continued to make fielding miscues and errors. Even the umps made mistakes. The Red Sox took advantage of most, but not all of these mistakes. The Sox never made any big hits on their own. They scored their runs off groundouts, a wild pitch, and a soft David Ortiz single. That run knocked in by Ortiz was the only Sox run driven in by a hit. The Sox were 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
The Rays took advantage of a glaring Red Sox weakness: the middle relievers. Franklin Morales and Brandon Workman combined to allow the Rays to take the lead in the 8th inning. Overall, the Rays bullpen executed slightly better (4 innings, 2 hits, 1 run) than the Red Sox bullpen (2.2 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs). And that was one of the deciding differences.
So Game 4 tonight at 8:37. That start-time worries me because Monday night's game took 4 hours and 19 minutes. If that happens tonight then the game will end around 1 o'clock in the morning.
Jake Peavy takes the mound for his first playoff start in a Red Sox uniform. He faces Jeremy Hellickson. Peavy has only made 2 career postseason starts, the last in 2006. He was lousy in both. Fortunately the Rays don't hit him very well. Unfortunately, the Red Sox don't hit Hellickson very well either. Except for Ortiz (.375 with 3 HRs in his career against Hellickson) and Saltalamacchia (.320, also with 3 HRs).
Expect another game decided by mistakes and the ability to capitalize on and minimize the impact of those mistakes.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson