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Monday, July 18, 2011
Red Sox, Rays match zeroes into the night


Sunday Night Baseball turned into Monday Morning Baseball as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in 16 innings. This marked just the fourth game since 1990 to last 16 or more innings with only one run being scored.

It was the longest 1-0 game in Red Sox history (by inning) and the second-longest scoreless inning game in Red Sox history (longest was July 14, 1916, a 17-inning scoreless tie against the St. Louis Browns).

It matched the longest game in Rays history by innings, a 9-8 loss in 16 innings on April 1, 2003, also at home to the Red Sox.

One of the more remarkable things from Sunday night's game is neither pitching staff allowed more than five hits in the 16 innings pitched.

Before that only one team had pitched 16 or more innings and allowed five hits or fewer in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

Dustin Pedroia matched the Rays himself with three hits. He went 3-for-7, while the rest of the Red Sox players were 2-for-45.

In charge of shutting Tampa Bay down was Josh Beckett. He allowed just one hit in eight innings of work, after throwing a one-hit shutout in his last appearance against the Rays.

Beckett is the second pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) with consecutive starts against an opponent in which he went at least eight innings and allowed no more than one combined hit and walk in each.

As good as Beckett was, Jeff Niemann of the Rays matched him allowing just two hits in eight innings, while striking out 10 batters.

According to Game Score -- a metric devised by Bill James assigning a pitcher points using innings pitched, strikeouts, hits, walks, and runs -- Beckett and Niemann each had a Game Score of 86. This was arguably the best pitchers duel in 2011 as their combined Game Score of 172 was the highest by two pitchers in the same game this season.

It was the highest combined Game Score by opposing starters since July 10, 2010, when Travis Wood (93) and Roy Halladay (85) combined for 178 in a game the Phillies won 1-0 in 11 innings.

Beckett had success keeping the ball away from Rays hitters. Fifty-five of Beckett's 106 pitches were on the outer third of the plate or further outside, the highest percentage for Beckett this season. He got 13 outs in at-bats ending on those pitches, his highest total of the season.

Niemann got Red Sox hitters to expand their strike zone. Hitters swung at 38 percent of Niemann's pitches out the zone, his second highest in a start this season. Ten of his career-best 14 swings and misses and seven of his career-best 10 strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone.

The teams played another eight innings once the starters were taken out, with the total game time lasting 5 hours and 44 minutes. It was the second-longest game this season in terms of time played, with only the Reds-Phillies game on May 25 that lasted over six hours besting it. Coincidentally, both games were played on ESPN.