As part of a split-squad doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox beat the Orioles at home and lost to the Rays on the road. In Fort Myers, Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 9-6. Up the road in St. Petersburg, Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 3-1.
At JetBlue Park, Kutter Crawford made his third start and fourth overall appearance of the spring for the Red Sox. The right-hander pitched well, scattering just three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over 4 2/3 scoreless innings of work.
Crawford dealt with traffic on the basepaths in every inning except the fourth. But he managed to avoid any serious damage and retired six of the last seven hitters he faced to finish with a final pitch count of 83. With two outs in the fifth, the 26-year-old righty was given the hook in favor of left-hander Oddanier Mosqueda, who walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases before punching out Ryan Mountcastle on a foul tip.
At the midway point, the Red Sox had already jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Orioles. All five of those runs came off Baltimore starter Grayson Rodriguez, who is considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball.
Boston first got to Rodriguez in the bottom half of the third. After Rafael Devers reached base via a one-out double, Adam Duvall followed by crushing a two-run home run over the faux Green Monster for his third homer of the spring. An inning later, Bobby Dalbec drew a leadoff walk off Rodriguez and was able to move up to third with two outs before scoring on a wild pitch.
Greg Allen, who was at the plate when Dalbec scored, drew a walk himself and wasted no time in showing off his speed by scoring all the way from first on an RBI double off the bat of Christian Arroyo. Following an Orioles pitching change that saw old friend Eduard Bazardo replace Rodriguez, Devers greeted his former teammate by ripping an RBI single to right field that brought in Arroyo to make it a 5-0 contest in favor of the Red Sox.
The Red Sox and Orioles then exchanged zeroes for the next three innings. After Crawford and Mosqueda got through the fifth, Chris Martin retired the side in order in the sixth before Richard Bleier faced the minimum by inducing an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play in the seventh.
Picking things up in the eighth, the Sox saw their combined shutout bid come to an end when Heston Kjerstad drove in Jordan Westburg with an RBI groundout off Joely Rodriguez. Rodriguez gave up a single to the next batter he faced in Maverick Handley before being removed from the game with a right side injury. The veteran lefty was replaced by minor-leaguer Jake Thompson, who issued a leadoff walk to Colton Cowser and then surrendered three consecutive run-scoring hits to Shayne Fontana, Franchy Cordero, and Mark Kolozsvary.
Just like that, Boston’s commanding five-run lead had been cut down to just one. The Red Sox, however, wasted little time in getting all four of those runs back in the latter half of the eighth. After Niko Goodrum reached on a fielding error, Jorge Alfaro came through by demolishing a two-run home run off Orioles reliever Austin Voth.
Nick Decker and Nick Sogard followed suit by hitting back-to-back singles. With two outs in the eighth, the speedy Tyler McDonough delivered the finishing blow in the form of a two-run triple into the triangle in deep center field. Both Decker and Sogard scored on the play, giving the Red Sox a 9-4 advantage heading into the final frame.
Though he made things interesting by yielding two runs on three hits, John Schreiber was ultimately able to slam the door on the Orioles in the ninth to wrap up a high-scoring victory for Boston.
At Tropicana Field, Josh Winckowski made his second start and third overall appearance of the spring for the visiting Red Sox. Like Crawford, the right-hander pitched well by allowing two unearned runs on just one hit and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over five innings of work.
Both runs scored off Winckowski came in the bottom of the second. There, the righty got the first two outs of the inning before Jose Siri reached base on a fielding error committed by third baseman Matthew Lugo. Siri, ever the speedster, promptly stole second base and was prepared to swipe third as well. Caleb Hamilton attempted to pick Siri off at third base, but his throw wound up in left field, which allowed Siri to easily score the first run of the game.
Winckowski then issued his one and only walk to Rene Pinto before serving up an RBI double to Ben Gamel, thus giving the Rays an early 2-0 lead. Despite that adversity, though, Winckowski settled in nicely and retired the last 10 batters he faced in order. The 24-year-old needed 62 pitches (41 strikes) to get through five one-run frames.
Boston’s lone run off Tampa Bay on Saturday came in somewhat surprising fashion. With one out in the bottom of the third, Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez belted a 367-foot solo shot off Rays All-Star lefty Shane McClanahan for his first home run of the spring.
Outside of that one big fly, though, a Red Sox lineup that mainly featured prospects minor-leaguers was limited to just five hits off McClanahan and the rest of the Rays pitching staff.
Out of the Red Sox bullpen, Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort combined for two scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh before Chase Shugart ran into some trouble in the eighth. There, Shugart gave up back-to-back singles to Ronny Simon (who stole second base) and Kyle Manzardo (who drove in Simon from second). He then got the first out of the inning before getting Niko Hulsizer to fly out to right for the second out.
Manzardo, who had moved up to third, attempted to tag up and score, but he was instead gunned down at home plate by 20-year-old right fielder Jhostynxon Garcia. With that run off the board, the Red Sox still found themselves trailing by two going into the ninth.
Blaze Jordan brought the tying run to the plate by reaching base on an infield single. But Max Ferguson struck out swinging on three straight cutters from Rays reliever Kevin Kelly to put the finishing touches on a 3-1 defeat.
With a win over the Orioles and a loss to the Rays, the Red Sox are now 11-7-4 in Grapefruit League play with 10 more exhibition games remaining before Opening Day on March 30.
Next up: Pivetta takes on former team
The Red Sox will travel to Clearwater to take on the reigning National League champion Phillies on Sunday afternoon. Former Phillies hurler Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while fellow righty Luis Ortiz will do the same for Philadelphia.
First pitch from BayCare Ballpark is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN+.
(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Megan Briggs/Getty Images)