The Red Sox squandered a late lead against the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon and wound up paying for it. Boston fell to Detroit by a final score of 6-2 at Joker Marchant Stadium to drop to 9-5-4 in Grapefruit League play.
Matched up against Michael Lorenzen out of the gate, the Red Sox got off to quick start right away in the first inning. Raimel Tapia took the eighth pitch he saw from Lorenzen (a 3-2, 84.5 mph changeup at the knees) and promptly crushed a 402-foot leadoff home run to deep right field.
Tapia’s second homer of the spring left his bat at 101.1 mph and gave Boston an early 1-0 lead over Detroit. It also provided Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta with a one-run cushion before he even took the mound on Tuesday.
Pivetta, making his third start of the spring, was solid. The right-hander allowed just one earned run on four hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over four innings of work.
After Pivetta went the first three frames without surrendering a hit, the Red Sox doubled their lead in the top half of the fourth. With Lorenzen still pitching for the Tigers, Rob Refsnyder broke out of an 0-for-21 rut by clubbing a 384-foot solo shot to right field for his very first hit of the spring. Ronaldo Hernandez and Greg Allen also reached base in the inning, but they were both thrown out on the base paths.
Pivetta, meanwhile, gave up his first hit of the day on a leadoff single off the bat of Zack Short in the latter half of the fourth. Short, however, was thrown out at second while trying to extend his single into a double. Ryan Kreider followed by ripping a one-out triple down the right field line and was driven in moments later on a Riley Greene RBI single. Pivetta then yielded a two-out single to Austin Meadows, but he managed to strand both Greene and Meadows by fanning the last batter he would face in Nick Maton.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 54 (36 strikes), Pivetta topped out at 96.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 37 times. The 30-year-old hurler also induced nine swings-and-misses altogether, per Baseball Savant.
In relief of Pivetta, fellow righty John Schreiber received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Schreiber was able to get out of a jam in the fifth inning and got the first two outs of the sixth, who stranded the lone runner he inherited by punching out Colt Keith on five pitches. Left-hander Oddanier Mosqueda followed suit by recording two more strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
The eighth inning is where things began to get away. Chase Shugart entered with a one-run lead to protect, but he walked two of the first three batters he faced before giving up a go-ahead, two-run single to Jake Holton. Holton then moved up to second on a Brendon Davis base hit and scored from second on an RBI single off the bat of Keith.
Shugart left the game with runners on the corners and two outs still to get in the eighth. Luis Guerrero, who took over for Shugart, immediately gave up a sacrifice fly to Luis Guerrero. Not only did Davis score from the third on the play, but Keith was able to come in all the way from first after minor-league shortstop Luis Ravelo committed a fielding error.
Just like that, a 2-1 lead became a 6-2 deficit. Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Allan Castro, Ravelo, and Caleb Hamilton all went down quietly against Tigers reliever Mason Englert, who was credited with the winning decision after tossing two scoreless innings. Shugart, on the other hand, was charged with the loss.
Other worthwhile observations:
Triston Casas went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. The 23-year-old saw 27 pitches in his four plate appearances and is now sporting a .441 on-base percentage this spring.
Christian Arroyo also doubled. Tapia, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 with his first-inning homer and is now batting .417 (10-for-24) in nine Grapefruit League games.
Guerrero, a 17th-round draft pick in 2021, threw nine pitches on Tuesday. Only two of them went for strikes, but the 22-year-old was consistently in the upper-90s and even hit triple-digits with his fastball.
Next up: Whitlock makes spring debut against Rays
The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers to host the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. While Corey Kluber is in line to start for Boston, Garrett Whitlock will also be making his spring debut, as the right-hander is slated to throw two innings out of the bullpen. On the other side, fellow righty Evan McKendry will be starting for Tampa Bay.
First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)