Cash's bold move with Boxberger pays off

With game tied in seventh, manager gets three strikeouts from Rays' closer

Cash's bold move with Boxberger pays off

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Kevin Cash has maintained since Spring Training that he was an advocate of bringing in his best reliever to quiet volatile situations, no matter what inning.

That mindset prompted Cash to bring in closer Brad Boxberger in the seventh inning of Wednesday night's 7-5 win over the first-place Red Sox.

"It's a little bit different than the rest of the year has gone," Boxberger said. "But Cash told me and [Kevin] Jepsen a little bit earlier that we're just going to try and preserve anything we have."

And preserve they did.

"It obviously worked out tonight and this was the first go of it," Boxberger said. "So it's a little bit different for us, but I think going forward it's going to help keep us in some more ballgames. Just do what we can to win some."

With the score tied at 5, the Red Sox were scheduled to send David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Napoli to the plate. Enter Boxberger.

The right-hander normally doesn't sniff the mound until at least the eighth inning, but a potential fire was smoldering.

Boxberger first struck out Ortiz swinging. Ramirez and Napoli then followed, both going down swinging to snuff out the threat before it could develop.

"I felt good," said Boxberger, who had not pitched since Thursday in Toronto against the Blue Jays. "I've had a lot of time off. I was able to actually command some stuff. That was nice. With the time off, you never know what you're going to go out there and have. To be able to go out there and get those three guys in that order, it was definitely a turning point in the game."

The back end of that strategy arrived when Steve Geltz, normally a middle-inning reliever, followed Jepsen, who pitched a scoreless eighth, to pitch the ninth.

"Box and Jep, they had clean innings, but they had to work to get them," Cash said. "I don't know if it makes too much sense to send them back out there this early in the season."

Fortunately for the Rays, Geltz was able to get the final three outs to earn his first Major League save.

"I was out there just trying to throw strikes, trying to get ahead and get quick outs so we could get a nice win," Geltz said. "Needed it."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.