Rich Hill gets shelled, Kevin Plawecki homers as Red Sox fall to Rays, 9-3

The Red Sox fell to 9-6 in Grapefruit League play on Friday following a 9-3 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.

Despite losing by six runs, it was actually the Sox who got on the board first in their half of the third inning. With starter Ryan Yarbrough on the mound for the Rays, Rob Refsnyder led off with a single, advanced to second base on a Jonathan Arauz walk, and advanced to third on a Christian Arroyo groundout.

Trevor Story, who made the trip to Port Charlotte for Friday’s contest, then drove in Refsnyder on a sacrifice fly to left field. Story’s second RBI of the spring gave Boston an early 1-0 lead, though it did not last long.

Red Sox starter Rich Hill began his afternoon by retiring each of the six batters he faced, but immediately ran into trouble in the bottom of the third when he issued a leadoff single to Taylor Walls. A double from Brett Phillips to follow put runners at second and third for Harold Ramirez, who put the Rays up 2-1 on a two-run single to left field.

Wander Franco moved Ramirez up to second base with another single and both runners scored on back-to-back run-scoring hits from Brandon Lowe and Manuel Margot to make it a 4-1 game.

Having recorded just one out in the third, Hill was temporarily pulled in favor of Jacob Wallace out of the Red Sox bullpen. Wallace, in turn, allowed both runners he inherited to score on a two-run double off the bat of Austin Meadows.

After getting through the third, Wallace made way for Hill once more. The veteran left-hander rebounded by facing the minimum three batters in the fourth, but got shelled for three more runs on three more hits in the fifth.

All told, Hill surrendered nine runs — all of which were earned — on 11 hits and no walks to go along with one strikeout over 3 2/3 total innings of work. The 42-year-old southpaw should be making one more start before the regular season begins.

In relief of Hill, Brendan Nail came on for Hill in the fifth and recorded the final two outs of the frame via swinging strikeout. From there, Jake Diekman maneuvered his way around a hit batsman and walk in a scoreless sixth, Austin Davis sat down the side in order in the seventh, and Tyler Danish did the same in the eighth.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Nick Sogard led the inning off by reaching first base on a fielding error. Kevin Plawecki then took Rays reliever Christopher Gau deep to left-center field for his first home run of the spring.

Plawecki’s two-run blast made it a 9-3 game in favor of Tampa Bay, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Rafael Devers went 1-for-1 with a double and was also hit by a pitch. He is now batting .450 this spring.

Franchy Cordero doubled in his only at-bat of the day after being used as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning. He is now batting .476 this spring.

Top prospect Marcelo Mayer came on as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning and went 0-for-1 with the game-ending flyout.

Next up: Brubaker vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox return to Fort Myers to take on the Pirates at JetBlue Park on Saturday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi will be making one final tune-up before Opening Day and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander J.T. Brubaker.

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

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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