The Red Sox continued their winning ways on Saturday afternoon by improving to 3-0 in Grapefruit League play. They defeated the Twins by a final score of 1-0 at Hammond Stadium.
Nick Pivetta made his first start of the spring for Boston. The right-hander did not allow a single hit, walk, or run while striking out five in his three perfect innings of work. Of the 38 pitches he threw, 28 went for strikes. He also induced four total swings-and-misses and averaged 93.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.
In relief of Pivetta, Austin Davis got the first call out of the Sox bullpen beginning in the middle of the fourth inning. The left-hander gave up back-to-back singles to begin the frame but escaped the jam before making way for Phillips Valdez, who stranded one runner in an otherwise clean bottom of the fifth.
From there, Zack Kelly found himself in immediate trouble when he yielded a leadoff single to Derek Fisher. Connor Wong, however, negated that almost instantly by gunning Fisher at second down on a failed stolen base attempt, ultimately allowing Kelly to get through the bottom of the sixth unscathed.
To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been held in check by three different Twins pitchers. With one out in the top of the seventh, Ryan Fitzgerald changed that by crushing a one-out solo shot off Minnesota reliever Cody Stashak.
Fitzgerald’s first home run of the spring provided Boston with their first lead of the day at 1-0. Darin Gillies kept it that way in the latter half of the seventh, while Thomas Pannone did so in the eighth.
Pannone came back out for the ninth looking to preserve the shutout, but instead loaded the bases with two outs. The former Blue Jays lefty did manage to get old friend Cole Sturgeon to pop out to center field for the final out of the ninth, though, thus preserving a 1-0 victory for the Red Sox.
All told, Boston pitchers (Pivetta, Davis, Valdez, Kelly, Gillies, and Pannone) combined to allow just six hits and two walks while punching out 13 in the combined shutout bid.
On the injury front, Jonathan Arauz originally started Saturday’s contest at second base. The 23-year-old was forced to leave in the bottom of the fifth inning after colliding with Twins shortstop Nick Gordon and was replaced by Christian Koss.
Next up: Houck vs. Reyes
Tanner Houck is next in line to make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox as he gets the start against the Orioles on Sunday. The right-hander will be opposed by fellow righty Denyi Reyes, who spent the first seven years of his professional career with Boston before signing a minor-league deal with Baltimore last November.
First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on NESN.
(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)