ST. PETERSBURG — Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier singled on the first pitch RHP Clay Buchholz threw Sunday, but any thoughts of another easy day for the offense were dashed when Buchholz retired the next 10 batters.
Buchholz allowed just three hits and handed the Rays their 16th shutout this season when he pitched the Red Sox to a 3-0 victory at Tropicana Field.
“I don’t know if he feels really comfortable against us or pitching off the mound here; whatever the case might be, he was sharp, man,” said RF Matt Joyce, who doubled in the fourth inning. “He threw all his pitches for strikes when he wanted to early in the count. ... (He) just did everything that you want to do as a pitcher. When a pitcher does that, it’s tough to hit. It makes it really tough to hit.”
RHP Alex Cobb had the misfortune of pitching opposite Buchholz. Cobb lost for the first time in 11 starts but extended his streak of allowing two earned runs or fewer to a career-high 10 games.
The Red Sox scored an unearned run in the third inning when Cobb’s pickoff throw to first base got past James Loney and rolled up the right-field line. SS Xander Bogaerts, who raced from first to third on the error, scored on a single by C Christian Vazquez.
“I can’t nitpick at Cobber,” manager Joe Maddon said. “If every one of our starters had that kind of a day we’d be pretty darn good all year.”
Cobb allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits over 61⁄3 innings. Maddon said Cobb didn’t have his best change-up and that hurt him, but he said Cobb had a solid outing.
Cobb said he had to “tip his cap,” to Buchholz.
Cobb’s throwing error extended the Rays’ streak of at least one error a game to eight, the longest stretch since the Devil Rays committed an error in a franchise-high 11 games in 2004.
“Sloppy defense is something that we can’t have if we’re going to sustain success around here,” Cobb said. “Me, personally on the mound, I can’t do that when you know you’re going to go to battle with a pitcher who is throwing the ball as well as (Buchholz) is.”
Buchholz retired the final 12 batters he faced. He didn’t throw more than 14 pitches in an inning.
“He was that good,” Maddon said.
Call ’em up
The Rays will call up RHP Brandon Gomes and C Curt Casali today when rosters can expand to 40. They also will activate OF David DeJesus (fractured left hand) and call up RHP Steve Geltz and add him to the 40-man roster.
Geltz, who spent the season at Triple-A Durham, is somewhat of a surprise. He was suspended 50 games this season for testing positive for the second time for a drug of abuse.
Maddon, who said he hoped Geltz’s troubles are a part of his past, said he’s eager to see Geltz pitch in the big leagues. He compared his spring to the one RHP Brad Boxberger had.
“I think he will be good, I really do,” Maddon said. “He’s not a tall kid, but he’s got some good giddy up.”
DeJesus missed 64 games with his injury, but said it has healed well.
“It’s great to play,” he said. “I play, after the game I ice it and I feel great the next day. It’s going to be sore sometimes, but I’m not going to break it. I’m not going to tear anything. So now it’s getting through it and finish the year strong.”
Smyly ready for whatever
LHP Drew Smyly will try to continue his streak of impressive starts this afternoon in the finale of this four-game series against the Red Sox.
He has pitched at least seven innings in his past four starts, winning three while compiling an 0.88 ERA.
Maddon said they will cap Smyly’s innings at 160 since he’s already thrown a career-high 1411⁄3.
“(We talked) a little bit, but I think right now we’re just kind of playing it by ear, pitch (today) and re-evaluate after that,” Smyly said.
CF Desmond Jennings missed his third straight game with a bruised knee. ... DH Wil Myers, 6-for-42 with 16 strikeouts since coming off the DL, had the day off. ... Kiermaier turned in another sparkling catch in the sixth inning when he reached back over his shoulder to catch a line drive by RF Daniel Nava while racing toward the wall. ... The Rays have had 34 games decided by shutout (18 for, 16 against), the most in the AL since the 1973 Yankees.