The Red Sox improved to 11-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Friday evening following a 10-6 triumph over the Minnesota Twins down the road at Hammond Stadium. This victory marked the team’s third in a row as well as the final installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.
Initially slated to start for Boston Friday was Chris Sale, but with him agreeing to a five-year, $145 million contract extension in the afternoon and all, the left-hander was scratched in favor of another southpaw in Dan Runzler.
Runzler, 33, recorded the first five outs of this one, surrendering two runs on zero hits and a pair of walks to go along with three strikeouts in his brief outing.
It looked as though Runzler was going to be able to escape the second by following up two consecutive walks with two consecutive strikeouts, but was pulled for Trevor Kelley, who allowed Minnesota’s first two runs of the night to score on a Max Kepler RBI single.
From the middle of the third inning on, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, Jenryy Mejia, Andrew Schwaab, Adam Lau, Hunter Smith, and Daniel McGrath combined to give up four Twins runs on 10 hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts over the final seven frames of this one.
Brasier, Workman, and Brewer all appear to be locks to make Boston’s Opening Day roster at this point. Together, they scattered just two hits and fanned five from the third until the conclusion of the fifth.
Mejia, meanwhile, did not do a great job of convincing anyone he deserves a spot in the Red Sox bullpen to start the season, as he allowed two more Minnesota runs to cross the plate on three hits in a rough sixth inning.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, who figures to serve as the club’s number two starter behind Jose Berrios to start the season.
Despite that reputation, the Boston Bats jumped on Gibson right from the get go, as Andrew Benintendi led things off with a laser of a first inning solo home on the very first pitch he saw.
Three at-bats without an out later, Xander Bogaerts unloaded the bases on a fly ball RBI single to right field to score Eduardo Nunez from third.
After Mitch Moreland struck out swinging, Jackie Bradley Jr. got his hot night at the plate started right with another run-scoring single to plate Rafael Devers from third and give his team an early 3-0 advantage.
Two innings later, following a two-run bottom half of the second for Minnesota, JD Martinez and Bogaerts would wind up being the catalysts for a five-run inning for the Red Sox with back-to-back singles to lead things off.
Following a GIDP off the bat of Moreland, Bradley Jr. would give Boston some breathing room by launching his third home run of the spring to make it a 5-2 contest.
That homer would lead to a Twins pitching change and be followed up by two more long balls from Christian Vazquez (1) and Gorkys Hernandez (2) in consecutive order.
But the third inning rally was not yet done. Not before Rafael Devers drove in Aneury Tavarez from third on an RBI single to give the Red Sox a commanding 8-2 lead.
In total, the Red Sox tallied eight runs on 13 hits before even reaching the midway point of the third inning. Not too shabby.
Going back to the game, Eduardo Nunez and Mike Miller were responsible for the final two runs of Boston’s eventful night, with Nunez collecting his RBI in the fifth and Miller doing the same in the eighth to make it a 10-4 game at that point.
The Twins would try their best to make things interesting in their half of the ninth by pushing across another pair of runs, but the Red Sox would hold on to take this one by a final score of 10-6.
Some notes from this win:
Xander Bogaerts had a scary collision with Twins outfielder Byron Buxton in between third and home during a rundown in the second inning, with his left shoulder taking the brunt of the hit.
“I didn’t want to look down. I don’t know how it looks,” Bogaerts said Friday. “It just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to look. As I went down, I let one of the trainers take a look. It looked fine. So, I was, ‘All right, lets keep going.”
Bogaerts remained in the game until the fifth inning. Saturday morning will more than likely provide a better indication on how the 26-year-old is feeling with Opening Day looming.
Rafael Devers update: now slashing .404/.417/.596 with one home run and seven RBI through 47 spring at-bats.
According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Brandon Workman will pitch once again on Saturday.
Speaking of Saturday, next up for the Red Sox, they’ll wrap up their 2019 Grapefruit League campaign by hosting a split Pittsburgh Pirates squad at JetBlue Park.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh, while fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi will be doing the same in his final start before his first full season with Boston begins.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Last game before heading out to Arizona to play the Chicago Cubs in a pair of exhibition games.