The Red Sox suffered their first loss of the spring and were shut out by the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 2-0 at JetBlue Park to drop to 9-1-3 in Grapefruit League play.
Corey Kluber, making his third start of the spring for the Sox, was tagged with the losing decision. The veteran right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over three-plus innings of work.
In both the first and second innings, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base. Each time, however, he was able to escape the jam by striking out the side in the first and inducing three straight fly outs in the second.
The third inning was a different story. There, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced (Orelvis Martinez and Zach Britton) to reach on a double and single, respectively. Rather than get out of the jam this time around, the righty instead surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wynton Bernard.
A similar situation arose in the fourth, as the Blue Jays doubled their lead when Cam Eden led off with a single and promptly scored all the way from first on a Rainer Nunez RBI double that split the gap in right-center field. Nunez proved to be the last Toronto hitter Kluber would face.
The 36-year-old hurler had already thrown 69 pitches to that point, and he was given the hook in favor of Cam Booser out of the Red Sox bullpen. Booser, in turn, prevented any further damage thanks to Caleb Hamilton picking off Nunez at third base. The minor-league left-hander then made way for Ryan Brasier, who made quick work of Toronto in the fifth.
In the sixth, Wyatt Mills was able to maneuver his way around a bases-loaded jam when Rob Refsnyder made a nice sliding, inning-ending catch down the left field line. Oddanier Mosqueda followed by hurling two more scoreless frames before Jake Faria stranded a pair of runners with the help of an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play in the top of the ninth.
To that point in the contest, four different Blue Jays pitchers had combined to hold the Red Sox lineup to just four hits (all singles) through eighth innings. Jimmy Robbins, who had given up a single and a walk in the bottom of the eighth, was also responsible for the latter half of the ninth inning.
Tyler McDonough, who had replaced Refsnyder in left field, reached base on a one-out single off the faux Green Monster. That brought Bobby Dalbec to the plate representing the tying run. Dalbec, however, lined out to second baseman Davis Schneider, who was able to get the ball back to first baseman Cullen Large in time to double up McDonough and thus end the game.
Following Friday’s loss, which took all of two hours and 24 minutes, Boston is now 11-1-3 in all competitions this spring.
Other worthwhile observations:
Raimel Tapia was one of five Red Sox hitters to record a hit on Friday. The 29-year-old went 1-for-2 with a stolen base and is now batting .421 (8-for-19) through seven Grapefruit League contests.
With a fourth-inning single, Adam Duvall broke out of an 0-for-11 slump to begin his Red Sox tenure. Following a 1-for-3 showing on Friday, the center fielder is now batting .071 (1-for-14) this spring.
In three appearances out of the bullpen this spring, Ryan Brasier has allowed one run on one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of relief. That is good for an ERA of 2.45 and a WHIP of 0.82. The righty is also holding opposing hitters to an .083 (1-for-12) batting average against.
Next up: Sale Day
The Red Sox will remain in Fort Myers on Saturday and take on the Twins in Game 3 of the 2023 Chairman’s Cup. Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston while right-hander Tyler Mahle is scheduled to start for Minnesota.
With a two-games-to-none lead already in hand, the Red Sox can take home the Chairman’s Cup with another win on Saturday afternoon. First pitch from Hammond Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)