The Red Sox fell to 6-2 in Grapefruit League on Thursday night following an 8-5 loss to the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Their six-game winning streak has been met with a two-game losing streak.
Enrique Hernandez was one of the few regulars who made the trek to Sarasota for Thursday’s contest, and he made his impact felt right away by crushing a leadoff home run off Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann to begin things in the first inning.
Hernandez’s first homer of the spring provided Sox starter Nick Pivetta with an early 1-0 lead. A red-hot Ryan Fitzgerald added on to that by clubbing a two-run shot off Zimmermann an inning later.
Fitzgerald’s team-leading fourth big fly of the spring gave Pivetta an even bigger lead to work with, but the right-hander ran into some trouble in the bottom of the second.
After retiring the side in order in the first, Pivetta — to no fault of his own — allowed the first batter he faced in the second in Anthony Santander to reach base via a throwing error committed by Fitzgerald. Pivetta then issued a one-out walk to Ramon Urias before surrendering two runs on a pair of RBI knocks off the bats of Jorge Mateo and Kelvin Gutierrez.
An inning later, Baltimore knotted things back up at three runs apiece when Ryan Mountcastle took Pivetta deep to right-center field for a solo homer. Urias did the very same in the fourth to give the O’s their first lead of the evening at 4-3.
Pivetta, in turn, recorded the first two outs of the fourth before making way for fellow righty Joan Martinez. The 29-year-old finished his day having given up four runs (two earned) on four hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work.
In relief of Pivetta, Martinez came on and got the final out of the fourth. Moments later, Alex Binelas (one of two prospects acquired in the Jackie Bradley Jr. trade) led off the top of the fifth with a ground-ball single and was pinch ran for by the speedy Ceddanne Rafaela, who proceeded to steal second base and score on an RBI single from Kevin Plawecki.
That sequence allowed the Red Sox to tie things back up at 4-4, and it also prompted manager Alex Cora to have Jake Diekman make his spring debut out of the bullpen in the fifth inning.
Diekman, however, was not at his sharpest. The veteran lefty yielded a one-out single and walk before serving up a three-run blast to New Hampshire native Ryan McKenna that made it a 7-4 game in favor of Baltimore.
Fellow newcomer Matt Strahm was deployed for the sixth inning. The southpaw plunked one batter and walked another, but got through the frame unscathed.
From there, Hirokazu Sawamura tossed a scoreless seventh inning. Power-hitting infield prospect Nick Northcut then mashed a booming home run to dead center field off old friend Travis Lakins with two outs and the bases empty in the eighth.
The Orioles got that run back off Kutter Crawford in their half of the eighth, though, and Marcos Diplan closed things out by retiring the likes of Nick Yorke, Rafaela, and Marcelo Mayer in order in the ninth.
Some notes from this loss:
Mayer, arguably Boston’s top prospect, came off the bench as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning and went 0-for-1 with a walk and strikeout.
Yorke, on the other hand, went 0-for-2 with a punchout after pinch-hitting for Fitzgerald in the sixth inning as well.
Next up: Houck vs. Anderson
The Red Sox will travel to North Port to take on the Braves at CoolToday Park on Friday afternoon. Tanner Houck is slated to get the ball for Boston and fellow right-hander Ian Anderson is lined up to the same for Atlanta.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised, but only on Bally Sports South.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)