The Red Sox improved to 9-5 in Grapefruit League on Thursday with a 4-3 win over the Twins at JetBlue Park. Boston now leads Minnesota three games to two in the race for the 2022 Chairman’s Cup.
Matched up against Twins starter Dylan Bundy to begin things on Thursday afternoon, the Sox got on the board almost immediately. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Rafael Devers crushed a booming solo shot over everything in right-center field.
Devers’ team-leading fifth home run of the spring gave Boston an early 1-0 lead. Bobby Dalbec doubled it an inning later by taking Bundy deep to left field on a solo homer of his own. His third of the spring made it a 2-0 game.
Those two home runs provided Red Sox starter Michael Wacha with a comfortable cushion to work with out of the gate. Making his third start of the spring, the veteran right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced before running into some trouble in the top half of the third.
There, a one-out double off the bat of Jake Cave put a runner in scoring position for Luis Arraez, who ripped a groundball single off Wacha to plate his side’s first run of the day.
An inning later, Alex Kirilloff led things off with a line-drive single that deflected off Wacha. After striking out Miguel Sano for the first out of the frame, the righty served up a two-run blast to Ryan Jeffers to give Minnesota their first lead of the afternoon at 3-2.
Wacha did bounce back and end his outing on a positive note by sitting down the final two Twins he faced. All told, the 30-year-old hurler allowed three earned runs on five hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over four innings of work.
In relief of Wacha, Oddanier Mosqueda received the first call out of the Boston bullpen beginning in the fifth. The young left-hander loaded the bases with two outs, but escaped the jam by fanning Sano.
Shortly after Mosqueda ended the top of the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the bottom of the inning with a hard-hit single off newly-inserted Twins reliever Jharel Cotton.
Bradley Jr. advanced to second before Enrique Hernandez drew a one-out walk. Travis Shaw then came on to pinch-hit for Dalbec, and he delivered with his first hit of the spring: an RBI single to right field that scored Bradley Jr. and knotted things up at three runs apiece.
From there, John Schreiber retired the side in order in the sixth and then made way for Derek Holland in the seventh. Holland, making his spring debut after signing a minor-league deal with the Sox on March 21, impressed by tossing a pair of scoreless, 1-2-3 frames.
That paved the way for Boston to attempt to break the tie in the bottom of the eighth. With Cody Laweryson on the mound for Minnesota, Shaw — representing the potential go-ahead run — began the inning with a flyball double.
A single from Yolmer Sanchez allowed Shaw to advance to third and a walk drawn by Elih Marrero filled the bases with no outs for Alex Verdugo. Verdugo, in turn, came through with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought in Shaw from third.
Verdugo’s late RBI put the Red Sox up, 4-3, heading into the ninth. There, Phillips Valdez was dispatched from the bullpen and immediately walked the first batter he faced in Edouard Julien.
Valdez then punched out Mark Contreras before Marrero gunned down Julien at second base from behind home plate. With one out to get, Valdez put the tying run on again by plunking Stevie Berman, but rebounded by getting Roy Morales to ground out to Nick Sogard at second base to secure the save.
Some notes from this win:
Rafael Devers this spring is batting .421/.455/1.211 with five home runs, nine RBIs, and seven runs scored through eight games and 22 plate appearances.
Bobby Dalbec this spring is batting .370/.414/.815 with three home runs, nine RBIs, and five runs scored over 10 games and 29 plate appearances.
John Schreiber has yet to allow a run in three appearances (five innings) this spring. The right-hander has struck out seven of the 17 batters he has faced.
Derek Holland, in his 2022 debut on Thursday: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, and the winning decision.
Next up: Hill vs. Yarbrough
Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Rays in Port Charlotte will feature a pair of left-handers going at it, with Rich Hill getting the ball for Boston and Ryan Yarbrough doing the same for Tampa Bay.
First pitch from Charlotte Sports Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)