Christian Koss crushes two home runs as Red Sox walk off Rays, 7-6

The Red Sox improved to 2-0 in Grapefruit League play on Friday afternoon following a 7-6 walk-off victory over the Rays at JetBlue Park.

Nathan Eovaldi, who was recently named the Sox’ Opening Day starter for a third consecutive year, made his 2022 debut for Boston. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (both earned) on three hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over three innings of work.

After retiring each of the first six batters he faced, Eovaldi ran into some trouble in the top half of the third. The 32-year-old issued a leadoff double to Miles Mastrobuoni before yielding a pair of run-scoring hits to Esteban Quiroz and Josh Lowe.

That put Boston in early 2-0 hole, though Eovaldi was able to get through three full frames on 42 frames. His next start should come against the Twins in Fort Myers next Wednesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Kaleb Ort got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fourth inning and allowed one run on two hits that made it a 3-0 contest in favor of the Rays.

A half-inning later, though, the Sox got all three of those runs back on one swing of the bat. Following back-to-back singles from Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot and greeted reliever Zack Erwin by demolishing his second home run of the spring over the Fenway South green monster.

Dalbec’s three-run blast knotted things up at three runs a piece going into the fifth, when Durbin Feltman twirled a 1-2-3 frame before 2021 Rule 5 draftee Brian Keller did the very same in the sixth.

Ceddanne Rafaela and Christian Koss led off the bottom of the sixth with a pair of singles off Rays reliever David McKay and both base runners advanced an additional 90 feet on a groundout off the bat of Hudson Potts. Rafaela then scored when Tyler Esplin reached base on a fielder’s choice.

That sequence put the Red Sox up 4-3, although their newfound lead did not last long when Keller served a go-ahead, three-run home run to Ford Proctor that gave the Rays a 6-4 edge. Joan Martinez came on for Keller and recorded the final out of the seventh.

From there, non-roster invitee Silvino Bracho took over for Martinez and maneuvered his way around a two-out single in an otherwise clean inning of work.

To lead off the bottom half of the eighth, the Sox cut into the Rays’ lead when Koss cranked his first home run of the spring to left field off Adrian De Horta. Izzy Wilson followed with a two-out single before Tyreque Reed came through with a game-tying single off former Red Sox farmhand Seth Blair.

Right-handed pitching prospect Victor Santos came on in the top of the ninth and put up one final zero for Boston to pave the way for some late-game heroics in the bottom half.

With two outs and the bases empty, Koss obliterated his second home run of the day. This one was another solo shot and came off Rays reliever Joel Peguero, thus ensuring a 7-6 walk-off victory for the Red Sox.

Next up: Pivetta makes spring debut against Twins

Nick Pivetta will make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox on Saturday as they face off against the Twins — who have yet to name a starter — at Hammond Stadium.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Christian Koss: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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