The Red Sox were held to just six hits in the process of getting shut out by the Braves on Friday afternoon. Boston fell to Atlanta by a final score of 8-0 at JetBlue Park to drop to 10-6-4 in Grapefruit League play.
Tanner Houck, making his fourth start of the spring for the Sox, allowed four earned runs on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander ran into trouble right away in the top of the first when he served up a towering solo shot to Braves first baseman Matt Olson.
After settling in and holding Atlanta to just that one run through four innings of play, Houck experienced additional struggles in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double to old friend Kevin Pillar. Ozzie Albies then drove in Pillar with a one-out single before Olson doubled his side’s lead with a mammoth two-run blast to deep right field.
Olson’s second homer of the afternoon put the Braves up, 4-0. Houck retired the next batter he faced in Austin Riley for the second out of the fifth, and that is how his day would come to a close. The 26-year-old finished with 81 pitches and now owns a 5.68 ERA across 12 2/3 innings this spring.
In relief of Houck, minor-leaguer Aaron Perry received the first call out of the Boston bullpen. Perry allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base before ending things in the fifth. Kenley Jansen, who was responsible for the sixth inning, yielded a leadoff single to Braden Shewmake but left him on base by retiring the next three batters he faced.
Ryan Brasier took over for Jansen in the seventh and surrendered one run on three hits. In the eighth, Kaleb Ort only managed to record one out while getting shelled for three runs on five hits — the first two of which were back-to-back home runs. Skylar Arias sat down the only two Braves he faced in the eighth before Ryan Sherriff struck out two in a scoreless top of the ninth.
To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been completely held in check. Braves starter Jared Shuster got himself out of a bases loaded jam in the first by punching out Bobby Dalbec. Shuster put up three more zeroes before giving up a leadoff single to Greg Allen in the fifth. The New Bedford native was then given the hook in favor of Nick Anderson, who immediately got Niko Goodrum to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and followed that up by retiring Christian Arroyo.
Fast forward to the seventh, Dalbec reached base on a one-out triple off Michael Tonkin but was left there after Reese McGuire flew out and Allen grounded out. A similar situation arose in the eighth, as Nick Sogard reached on a leadoff single off Jackson Stephens before advancing to third on a two-out double from Corey Rosier. Both Sogard and Rosier, however, were stranded in scoring position after Narciso Crook struck out swinging.
Down to their final three outs in the latter half of the ninth, Rob Refsnyder was hit by a pitch, Marcelo Mayer lined out to deep center field, Caleb Hamilton grounded into a force out at second base, and Tyler Dearden flew out to center to put the finishing touches on an 8-0 loss.
Next up: Split-squad action
The Red Sox will have a split squad on Saturday as they host the Orioles at JetBlue Park and travel to St. Petersburg to take on the Rays at Tropicana Field.
At home, Kutter Crawford will get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Grayson Rodriguez for Baltimore. On the road, righty Josh Winckowski will get the ball for Boston while left-hander Shane McClanahan will do the same for Tampa Bay.
First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game at JetBlue Park will be broadcasted on NESN+ while the game at Tropicana Field will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Sun.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)