Closing Time: Red Sox have no answer for Matt Moore, Rays in shutout loss

July 22, 2013 - 6:04 pm

The Red Sox had no answer for Matt Moore Monday night, as the lefty made quick work of Boston'€™s lineup on the way to a 3-0 win for the Rays in the teams' series-opener Monday night at Fenway Park. With the loss the Red Sox' lead in the American League East over Tampa Bay shrinks to just 1/2 game. Since June 29, the Rays are now 18-2. It was the seventh time the Sox have been shutout this season, first occasion in which they have succumbed to a complete game blanking by the opponent's starter. Moore needed just 96 pitches to get through eight innings on the way to his two-hitter . (The effort was similar to that of Cliff Lee on May 28, who only allowed one run on four hits through an eight-inning, 95-pitch effort at Fenway Park.) The performance marked the sixth straight start in which Moore came away with a win, and his first career complete game. Boston has struggled against left-handed pitching on the year compared to its performance against righties. While it was batting .285/.356/.463 against right-handed pitching entering Monday night, it was only batting .257/.334/.400 against left-handed pitching. The poor offensive output spoiled a quality start from rookie Brandon Workman, who only allowed two runs through six innings and gave the Red Sox an opportunity to expand its lead in the American League East. Here is a look at what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox, who drop to 60-41: WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX - The Rays second run could have been prevented had Ben Zobrist not beaten out an infield single in the fifth inning. However, in a close play, Zobrist outran the a throw from a charging Jose Iglesias, giving the Rays an extra opportunity to score Yunel Escobar. The play only amounted to one extra Rays run, but with Moore looking unbeatable in the game, the extra run was a valuable insurance run for Tampa Bay. - Workman was hit early, as Rays tagged him for one run on three hits through 33 pitches in the first inning. His early struggle did not continue over the ensuing three innings, as he only threw 42 pitches over that span. However, the early trouble made his outing significantly shorter than it could have been, and Workman had to come out of the game after six innings despite only allowing two runs. The heavy pitch count did not ultimately hurt Boston as much as it could have, but Workman had a chance to go deeper into the game and preserve the bullpen even more than he did. Considering the heavy use of the bullpen in the Sunday'€™s Red Sox win over the Yankees, that would have set the Red Sox up nicely for the rest of the series. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX - Workman had a strong first start at Fenway, only allowing two runs on seven hits through six innings pitched. Workman attacked the strike zone, as he threw 66 percent of his 103 pitches for strikes. While Workman'€™s debut as a reliever did not go very well, the 24-year-old has shown the ability to be an effective major league starter through his first two starts. As a starter, he has a 2.92 ERA and has pitched 12 1/3 innings having allowed only four runs on nine hits while striking out nine and walking three. - Workman allowed a base hit to Desmond Jennings to start the game, but picked him off at first base. It was the third time a Red Sox pitcher has picked off a runner this season, as Craig Breslow and Felix Doubront have also done it once apiece. - Mike Napoli was once again the best Red Sox hitter on the night, as he was the only Red Sox batter to reach base through the first five innings. Napoli hit a single off of Moore before walking in the fifth. The offensive success is a part of a recent upward trend for Napoli, who was batting .333/.368/.833 over his last five games entering Monday'€™s game. - Jose De La Torre turned in a solid relief outing, pitching 2 2/3 innings before ultimately allowing the third Rays run in the ninth. The 50-pitch appearance helped save the Red Sox' bullpen, which only had to use a four-pitch showing from Breslow to finish things off.