For the first time this spring, the Red Sox have lost back-to-back games. After coming up short against the Blue Jays on Friday, Boston fell to the Twins by a final score of 4-3 at Hammond Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Sale pitched well for the Red Sox in his second start of the spring. The veteran left-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with five strikeouts over three scoreless innings of work.
That lone hit came in the form of a two-out single from Donovan Solano in the bottom of the first inning. From there, Sale retired the next seven batters he faced through the end of the third, which is where his day would come to a close. The 33-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 32 (24 strikes) while topping out at 95.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also induced seven swings-and-misses, per Baseball Savant.
While Sale was in the midst of a strong effort on the mound, the Red Sox put up a three-spot off Twins starter Tyler Mahle in the top half of the second. Bobby Dalbec led off the inning by lacing a 109.5 mph double to right field. He then moved up to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single off the bat of Reese McGuire.
McGuire was able to tag up to second on a Niko Goodrum flyout and then scored from there on a David Hamilton single. Hamilton, ever the speedster, proceeded to steal second base and take third on a throwing error committed by Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers. He remained at third before Adam Duvall plated him on a two-out bloop single that landed in the infield grass.
Taking a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning, Kenley Jansen got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Sale. Jansen, making his first in-game appearance since last Saturday, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth. He also came back out for the fifth and, after recording the first out, served up a 351-foot solo homer to Jeffers for Minnesota’s first run of the day.
Jansen was then relieved by minor-leaguer Brendan Cellucci, who issued a one-out walk to Max Kepler before allowing Kepler to score on a Michael A. Taylor RBI single. The left-handed Cellucci minimized the damage, though, as he got Andrew Bechtold to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
The Red Sox had an opportunity to build their lead back up in the top of the sixth after Hamilton, Greg Allen, and Adam Duvall all reached base. With two outs in the inning, however, Twins reliever Cole Sands was able to prevent the floodgates from opening by fanning the pinch-hitting Eddinson Paulino on four pitches.
The Twins capitalized on Boston’s inability to score in the following half-inning. Joely Rodriguez, the third lefty of the day for the Red Sox, yielded back-to-back doubles to Yoyner Fajardo and Jose Miranda to lead off the sixth. Miranda, who tied the game with his two-base hit, then scored what would prove to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kyle Farmer.
From that point forward, the Red Sox lineup was not able to do much offensively. After Rodriguez got the first out of the seventh and John Schreiber sat down all five batters he faced through the end of the eighth, Boston went down quietly against Blayne Enlow in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a 4-3 defeat.
With the loss, which took two hours and 22 minutes to complete, the Red Sox drop to 9-2-3 in Grapefruit League play and 11-2-3 in all competitions this spring. They will have to wait until March 22, when they next take on the Twins, for their next shot at taking home the 2023 Chairman’s Cup.
Other worthwhile observations:
Christian Arroyo went 2-for-3 with two singles on Saturday. The 27-year-old is now batting .360 (9-for-25) in nine games this spring.
Dalbec, McGuire, and Hamilton recorded multiple hits as well. Allen, who reached base twice by drawing two walks, and Hamilton combined for five stolen bases.
Next up: Split-squad action
The Red Sox will have a split squad on Sunday as they host the Yankees at JetBlue Park and travel to Sarasota to take on the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.
At home, Tanner Houck will get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Yoendrys Gomez for New York. On the road, Kutter Crawford will take the mound for Boston while fellow righty Grayson Rodriguez, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will toe the rubber for Baltimore.
First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game taking place at JetBlue Park will be broadcasted on NESN+.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)