The Rays stretched their winning streak to a season-high nine games Saturday night because their offense managed just enough runs and the bullpen closed the door on the Red Sox. Another shutdown job by the pen that ended in another hold for Brad Boxberger and another 1-2-3 save for Jake McGee that finished a 3-0 victory in front of 26,659 at Tropicana Field. Here something else that looked familiar: Grant Balfour. Not the Balfour from earlier this year, but Balfour circa 2008, the one who followed J.P. Howell to the mound when the moment was hot and dashed the flames. It happened in the sixth inning when the Red Sox put runners on the corners with no outs against lefty Jeff Beliveau after a single to right field by Mike Napoli and a broken-bat grounder by Jonny Gomes that somehow slipped between Evan Longoria and Yunel Escobar. The Rays led 2-0 at the time. The wasted opportunities in the first four innings appeared to be looming large. But Beliveau struck out Stephen Drew and Balfour came on to get the next two outs the end the threat. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he had that thought in the dugout as the inning unfolded. “J.P. Howell being played by Beliveau, and then you had Grant Balfour playing himself,” Maddon said. Balfour smiled at the memory. “Sounds good,” he said. “If it works out that way and we get the same results. I’ll take it if that’s what’s going to get us to the World Series. I’m all about winning. It doesn’t matter what role I’m in or what I’m doing. I’m all about winning.” Balfour pitched another inning to earn his first victory of the year. McGee earned his 11th save, tying him with Balfour for the team lead. This is the second-longest winning streak in team history behind the 12 consecutive wins recorded by the 2004 Devil Rays.
Strong bullpen gives Rays win over Red Sox
Tampa Tribune | Jul 27