The Red Sox’ quest for a perfect spring continued at JetBlue Park on Monday afternoon as they improved to 5-0 in Grapefruit League play with a 5-0 victory over the Braves.
Looking to make his case for a spot in the Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation, Michael Wacha made a strong first impression in his 2022 debut. The veteran right-hander, who signed a one-year, $7 million deal with Boston in November, scattered four hits and one walk with one strikeout in his three innings of work against Atlanta.
Wacha received an early offensive boost from his catcher in Christian Vazquez, who drove in the Red Sox’ first run of the day on an RBI double off Touki Toussaint with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. Vazquez’s two-base hit scored Xander Bogaerts from second to make it a 1-0 game in favor of Boston.
After retiring each of the last three batters he faced to escape a jam in the third inning, Wacha made way for the Sox bullpen beginning in the fourth. Darwinzon Hernandez received the first call from manager Alex Cora and proceeded to strike out the side in his spring debut.
Following a scoreless top of the fifth from Michael Feliz, fellow non-roster invitee Rob Refsnyder doubled his side’s advantage by plating Jarren Duran on a run-scoring double to left field. Rafael Devers then scored Yolmer Sanchez with an RBI single to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead heading into the sixth.
From there, John Schreiber fanned a total of four over his two innings of relief before Jonathan Arauz scored on a throwing error by Braves catcher Hendrik Clementina in the bottom of the seventh.
In the eighth, Silvino Bracho twirled a perfect frame in the top half while Ryan Fitzgerald crushed his second home run of the spring to lead off the bottom half. That sequence paved the way for Kaleb Ort to strand one runner and punch out a pair in a scoreless ninth inning to secure a five-run win for the Sox.
All told, it was another impressive performance from Red Sox pitching on Monday. Six different Boston hurlers (Wacha, Hernandez, Feliz, Schreiber, Bracho, and Ort) combined to keep the Braves off the scoreboard while limiting them to six hits and three walks to go along with 11 strikeouts.
Next up: Hill vs. Patino
Rich Hill will take the mound in a Red Sox uniform for the first time since 2015 when Boston travels to Port Charlotte on Tuesday to take on the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. The seasoned southpaw will be opposed in young right-hander Luis Patino for Tampa Bay.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised, but only on Bally Sports Sun.
(Picture of Michael Wacha: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)