After powering themselves to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Red Sox fell to 3-3-1 on Grapefruit League action on Thursday following a 12-5 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park.
Making his first start and second appearance of the spring was Bryan Mata, who is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ system headed into the 2020 season.
Working the first two innings Thursday, the 20-year-old right-hander kept the Phillies off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those two punchouts came against the final two hitters he faced in the second.
In relief of Mata, Chris Mazza got hit hard for three runs on a two-run home run and RBI double in the third, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez allowed one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, newcomer Phillips Valdez fanned two in an impressive, scoreless fifth, Bobby Poyner yielded a two-run homer to Delvy Grullon in the sixth, Daniel McGrath surrendered one run on three singles and a walk in the seventh, R.J. Alvarez allowed six of the nine hitters he faced in the eighth to reach base, resulting in four more Phillies runs, Eduard Bazardo yielded another run while only being able to record the first out of the ninth, and Matthew Kent wrapped things up by retiring the only two hitters he faced.
All in all, Red Sox pitching on Thursday combined to give up 12 runs on 20(!) hits and six walks. It’s still only late February, but I would not call those numbers ideal.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Kevin Pillar, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta to begin things in this one.
Moreland got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the third, driving in Benintendi, who had walked, from second with two outs on an RBI single through the right side of the infield off new reliever Seth McGarry to make it a 3-1 contest.
An inning later, back-to-back one-out knocks from Lin and Dalbec against reliever Cole Irvin brought Arauz to the plate with runners at second and third.
Arauz took full advantage of the scoring opportunity on the third pitch he saw from Irvin, as the 21-year-old laced a three-run homer over the wall in left field to pull his team back even with Philadelphia at four runs apiece.
Fast forward all the way to the seventh though, and the Phillies had jumped out to a three-run advantage at 7-4. Marcus Wilson reached base on a one-out single off Deolis Guerra, advanced to second on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double, and scored on a wild pitch with Tommy Joseph at the plate.
That mishap brought the Sox back to within two runs, but the Phillies again jumped out to another commanding lead to eventually take this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 12-5.
Some observations from this loss:
This game was not televised, but I do believe that it is important to note that Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-1 with a single, walk, and run scored out of the leadoff spot, and as I just mentioned, Jonathan Lucroy came off the bench in the seventh and ripped a double to left. He also struck out in the ninth.
Not that it means much this early in the year, but Jeter Downs, the team’s new top prospect according to MLB Pipleine, did commit another fielding error at second base in the sixth inning.
Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to Hammond Stadium to take on the Twins on Friday afternoon.
Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Homer Bailey will do the same for Minnesota.
Hart is one of several hurlers competing for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, and there may even be two openings now that Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list.
The 27-year-old left plenty to be desired in his most recent outing against the Twins on Monday, as he surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the third inning of an eventual 3-2 loss.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.