The Rays’ bats came up empty last night in New York, giving the Red Sox a golden opportunity to gain ground in the race for the AL wild card.
They were poised to take it, too. Until the bullpen ran out of gas.
Robert Andino socked a bases-loaded double off Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth inning, shocking Fenway Park and giving the Orioles a 7-5 victory. That kept the Sox (88-67) from gaining a full game on the Rays, who were blanked 5-0 in the Bronx.
The wild-card lead is still two, and the chase for the division is essentially over.
Boston has seven regular-season games remaining — tonight’s series finale against Baltimore, three at New York over the weekend and three on the road against the Orioles next week.
Tampa Bay has nine left to play. They’re at New York for two today and one tomorrow, then return home for three-game sets against the Blue Jays and?Yankees.
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The Rays did their best to play their way out of the playoff chase yesterday, spotting the Yankees a 4-0 lead in the second inning and scattering just six hits.
The Sox, meanwhile, scored first against the Orioles, and quickly bounced back from a four-run Baltimore third. Things looked academic ... until the eighth inning.
Daniel Bard gave up a leadoff single to Matt Wieters, then another hit after a strikeout.
Papelbon relieved him with two on, striking out Chris Davis. But Nolan Reimold’s shallow single loaded the bases, and Andino emptied them with a double.
The Sox offense looked promising in the ninth, but couldn’t quite do enough.