Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter struggle as Red Sox get shelled by Blue Jays in 16-3 loss

To put it simply, the Red Sox got rocked by the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Monday afternoon. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 16-3 at TD Ballpark to drop to 9-4-4 in Grapefruit League play.

Chris Murphy, making his first start and third overall appearance of the spring, did not fare well for the Red Sox. The left-hander surrendered six runs (five earned) on four hits, six walks, and zero strikeouts over just 2 1/3 innings of work. Only 24 of the 57 pitches he threw went for strikes.

The Blue Jays got to Murphy right away in their half of the first. Bo Bichette got the scoring started by crushing a one-out solo home run off the lefty. Murphy then loaded the bases on back-to-back walks and a single before recording the second out. But he was unable to escape the jam, as Addison Barger snuck an RBI single through the right side of the infield that scored Alejandro Kirk from third. Brandon Belt also attempted to score on the play, but he was thrown out at home plate by right fielder Miguel Bleis for the final out of the inning.

Despite falling behind by two runs right out of the gate, the Red Sox lineup wasted no time in mounting a rally of their own in the top of the second. With All-Star right-hander Alek Manoah starting for the Jays, Niko Goodrum led off with a single and Stephen Scott and Nick Sogard each took ball four. That ultimately loaded the bases with two outs for Bleis, who came through by roping a game-tying, two-run single to right field.

Manoah had been laboring to that point in the inning, and so the Blue Jays elected to temporarily take their starter out of the game and bring in Jackson Rees out of the bullpen. Following that pitching change, Enmanuel Valdez greeted the new reliever by plating Sogard from third on another single to right field. That gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead heading into the middle of the second.

Murphy followed by facing the minimum with the help of a double play, but his struggles to command the strike zone continued in the third. There, he again filled the bases with one out before issuing a bases-loaded walk to Orelvis Martinez, allowing Toronto to tie things up at three runs apiece. Martinez would prove to be the final batter Murphy would face, as he was given the hook in favor of fellow southpaw Cam Booser.

Booser entered with the bases still loaded and two outs to get in the third. He immediately gave up a bases-clearing single to Barger that was misplayed by Bleis in right field. As a result of Bleis’ error, all three runners Booser had inherited scored (Murphy was charged with all six runs) while Barger moved up all the way to third before being thrown out at home moments later.

The Blue Jays continued to haunt Red Sox lefties in the fourth. Brandon Walter, who took over for Booser, served up a leadoff double to Whit Merrifield that was followed by a blistering 453-foot two-run blast off the bat of Bichette (his second homer of the day), which gave Toronto a commanding 8-3 advantage.

Walter surrendered two more hits in the fourth before allowing another run to score on a Kevin Kiermaier groundout. The 26-year-old got tagged for three additional runs in the fifth on four more hits (including an RBI double from Merrifield) and a fielding error committed by second baseman Eddinson Paulino.

In the sixth, Wyatt Mills allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base before serving up a three-run home run to the pinch-hitting Andres Sosa. The same thing happened in the seventh as Mills gave up a single to Cam Eden before plunking Vinny Capra to put runners at first and second. He then made way for Durbin Feltman, who filled the bases with two outs before issuing yet another bases-loaded walk to Davis Schneider.

That sequence of events put Toronto up, 16-3. Feltman wrapped up an otherwise miserable day for Boston pitching by working his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless eighth inning in which he struck out a pair.

Offensively, the only real damage the Red Sox did came in the second inning. Outside of that lone productive frame, Boston batters were completely shut out by Manoah and the rest of Toronto’s pitching staff. When down to their final three outs in the ninth, Max Ferguson drew a leadoff walk before Marcelo Mayer, Matthew Lugo, and Gilberto Jimenez each went down swinging against Yosver Zulueta to put the finishing touches on a 16-3 loss.

Other worthwhile observations:

Bleis (1-for-2 with two RBIs) was one of three Red Sox hitters to record a hit on Monday. The 19-year-old outfielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Valdez, who had one of the other two hits and the only other RBI, is currently ranked 19th on the publication’s list.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lorenzen

The Red Sox will travel to Lakeland to take on the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. Nick Pivetta is slated to get the start for Boston opposite fellow righty Michael Lorenzen for Detroit.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will not be televised.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Elsa/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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