Bobby Dalbec homers, Raimel Tapia doubles twice as Red Sox’ Grapefruit League opener against Braves ends in 6-6 tie

The Red Sox opened Grapefruit League play with a 6-6 tie against the Braves at CoolToday Park in Northport, Fla. on Saturday afternoon.

Half of Boston’s six runs came within the first three innings of this contest. In the top of the second, Bobby Dalbec led off with a double and promptly moved up to third base on a Narciso Crook groundout. He then scored from third on an RBI single off the bat of Caleb Hamilton that got the Sox on the board first.

An inning later, Dalbec struck again. With two outs and a runner at second following a Raimel Tapia double, the slugging first baseman cranked a two-run shot to right field off veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez for his first home run of the spring.

The Braves, however, quickly responded in their half of the third by getting those two runs back. After left-handers Matt Dermody and Richard Bleier each tossed a scoreless frame to begin things for the Red Sox pitching staff, Kaleb Ort ran into some trouble. The hard-throwing righty yielded a leadoff single to Ronald Ocuna Jr. and followed that up by serving up a blistering two-run blast to Matt Olson, which brought Atlanta back to within one run at 3-2.

Following a scoreless fourth inning from Wyatt Mills, Ryan Sherriff surrendered the tying run to Eli White in the bottom of the fifth. Eddie Rosario reached base on a fielding error committed by Niko Goodrum and then scored all the way from first on a double from White (who was pinch-hitting for Ozzie Albies) that split the gap in right-center field.

Jake Faria took over for Sherriff in the sixth and worked his way around a leadoff walk before Norwith Gudino faced the minimum in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Wilyer Abreu ignited a three-run rally by ripping a one-out triple to center field. Ryan Fitzgerald broke the 3-3 stalemate by plating Abreu from third on a hard-hit double.

A wild pitch from Braves reliever Victor Vodnik allowed Fitzgerald to take third base. He then scored from third on a two-out double from the pinch-hitting Tyler McDonough. Ronaldo Hernandez followed by pushing across McDonough on an RBI single through the right side of the infield, which gave Boston a 6-3 advantage going into the late stages.

While Sterling Sharp was able to keep Atlanta in check in the eighth, the same cannot be said for Joey Stock in the ninth. The 25-year-old hurler gave up back-to-back hits with one out before yielding a run-scoring single to Magneuris Sierra. Stock then issued three consecutive walks, the latter two of which came with the bases loaded, allowing the Braves to knot things back up at six runs apiece.

Stock was given the hook in favor of Robert Kwiatkowski, who struck out the first batter he faced in Tyler Tolve. He then fell behind in a 3-2 count against Cal Conley before the Braves second baseman was called out on strikes by home plate umpire John Libka for not being set in the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the newly-implemented pitch clock.

The pitch clock was brought in by Major League Baseball in an effort to speed up games and hasten pace of play. Saturday’s bout between the Red Sox and Braves, which included 12 runs, 19 hits, and 17 runners left on base, lasted two hours and 39 minutes.

Other notable numbers:

Dalbec went 2-for-2 with that two-run homer and two runs scored. The 27-year-old is now batting .273/.362/.578 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 70 career Grapefruit League games.

Tapia, who is competing for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster, went 2-for-3 with two opposite-field doubles and one run scored. He and infield prospect Matthew Lugo also had automatic strikes called on them for not being set in the batter’s box in time.

Next up: Winckowski and a plethora of pitching prospects

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Sunday to host the Rays in their Grapefruit League home opener. Right-hander Josh Winckowski is slated to start for Boston while Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, and Bryan Mata are expected to follow. Left-hander Taj Bradley, one of the game’s top pitching prospects, will get the start for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Maddie Malhotra/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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