The Red Sox remained unbeaten in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday as their contest against the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ended in a 4-4 tie.
Matched up against Houston’s top pitching prospect, Hunter Brown, to begin things, Boston got off to a quick start in the top of the first inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Reese McGuire reached base via catcher’s interference. Brown then issued a bases-loaded walk to Niko Goodrum before plunking fellow non-roster invitee Greg Allen to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.
On the other side of things, Richard Bleier served as an opener in what was a bullpen game for the Boston pitching staff. The veteran left-hander allowed one run on two hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout over two innings of work.
After stranding Jose Altuve at second base in a scoreless bottom of the first, Bleier issued a leadoff walk to Kennedy Corona to kick off the second. Corona moved up to second on a J.J. Matijevic single and to third on a 6-4-3 double play before scoring his side’s first run on an RBI single off the bat of of Quincy Hamilton. Bleier then retired the final batter he faced to limit the damage to one run.
From there, Boston and Houston exchanged zeroes over the next three innings. Wyatt Mills struck out three across two scoreless frames before Kaleb Ort kept the Astros off the board in the fifth. To kick off the top half of the sixth inning, the speedy Ceddanne Rafaela led off by reaching base on a pop-up single and advancing to second on a Mauricio Dubon throwing error. A Wilyer Abreu walk and Enmanuel Valdez single loaded the bases with one out for Triston Casas, who plated Rafaela with an RBI groundout to third base. Abreu then scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-1 game in favor of Boston.
Taking a three-run lead into the latter half of the sixth, Ort issued a leadoff walk to Migeul Palma before recording the first two outs of the inning. Rather than getting out of the frame unscathed, though, the righty served up a two-run home run to 2022 second-round draft pick Jacob Melton, which brought the Astros back to within one run at 4-3.
Joe Jacques could not preserve that slim one-run lead in the seventh. The lefty was greeted by back-to-back hits from Marty Costes and Dubon to put runners at second and third with no outs for Houston. Palma then drove in Costes from third on a game-tying sacrifice fly to center field.
That is where the score would remain. While the Red Sox lineup could not muster anything else offensively, Rio Gomez and Luis Guerrero each sat down the side in order in the eighth and ninth. As such, this contest ended in a 4-4 draw that took two hours and 23 hours to complete.
Other notable numbers:
Through two appearances this spring, Mills has yet to allow a run or hit in the process of striking out five of the 10 batters he has faced over three scoreless innings of relief.
McGuire and Raimel Tapia (2-for-3) accounted for both of Boston’s extra-base hits on Wednesday. Valdez, who went 1-for-2 with a walk, was thrown out at home plate to end the top of the second while trying to score on a Christian Arroyo single.
Next up: Back to Fort Myers
At 3-0-2, the Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Thursday afternoon to take on the reigning National League champion Phillies. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to make his first start of the spring for Boston opposite Philadelphia left-hander Bailey Falter.
First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.
(Picture of Wyatt Mills: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)