The Red Sox closed out the weekend by mounting a comeback victory over the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. on Sunday. Boston defeated Philadelphia by a final score of 9-5 at BayCare Ballpark to improve to 12-7-4 in Grapefruit League play.
Nick Pivetta, making his fourth start of the spring for Boston, allowed four earned runs on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over four-plus innings of work. The right-hander ran into trouble right away in the bottom of the first, as he gave up a one-out solo shot to former teammate Rhys Hoskins.
Despite facing an early deficit, though, the Red Sox quickly got that run back in the second. Christian Koss led off the inning by ripping a double to left field. He then moved up to third base on a Ryan Fitzgerald grounder before Nick Sogard plated him with an RBI single off Phillies starter Luis Ortiz.
With things tied back up at one run apiece, Pivetta appeared to settle down by striking out two in a scoreless bottom of the second. But he yielded a leadoff double to Max McDowell in the third and followed that by serving up a two-run home run to Cody Roberts that gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
Again, Boston responded in the fourth by trimming that two-run deficit in half. With new reliever Ben Bowden now in the game for the Phillies, Fitzgerald greeted the left-hander by belting a 419-foot leadoff home run to deep right field for his first big fly of the spring.
Pivetta worked his way around a leadoff single in the fourth and came back out for the fifth. But he began the inning by issuing a leadoff walk to McDowell. With his pitch count already sitting at 84 (50 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler was given the hook in favor of minor-league left-hander Brendan Cellucci.
Cellucci, a Philadelphia-area native, allowed the lone runner he inherited to move up to third on a pair of walks, thus loading the bases for the Phillies. Nick Castellanos promptly drove in two of those runners by lacing a wind-aided, two-run double to center field. Cellucci gave up his third free pass of the inning and was relieved by the flame-throwing Luis Guerrero, who topped out at 98.3 mph with his fastball in the process of fanning the only two batters he faced.
Having just seen a one-run deficit increase to three, the Red Sox wasted no time in rallying in the sixth. After Jakob Hernandez filled the bases with only one out in the inning, Greg Allen came through with a go-ahead grand slam that cleared the right-center field fence in just 4.5 seconds. Allen’s first home run of the spring gave Boston its first lead of the afternoon at 6-5.
Given that brand-new one-run lead to protect, Brayan Bello came on for his spring debut in the latter half of the sixth. After being slowed by right forearm tightness last month, the 23-year-old rookie punched out three of the six Phillies batters he faced over two perfect frames of relief. Of the 25 pitches he threw, 18 went for strikes.
Following a 1-2-3 eighth inning from Ryan Brasier, the Red Sox tacked on three more runs in the top of the ninth. Blaze Jordan brought in one of those runs with a broken-bat single while Nick Decker drew a bases-loaded walk and Matthew Lugo drove in Stephen Scott with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Rio Gomez, fresh off representing Colombia in the World Baseball Classic, needed just 14 pitches (9 strikes) to strike out the side in the bottom of the ninth and secure a 9-5 win for the Red Sox.
Ravelo exits with knee contusion
During Boston’s ninth-inning rally, minor-leaguer Luis Ravelo suffered a left knee contusion. It happened after Ravelo had reached base on a fielding error and moved up to second on a walk.
On Jordan’s single, part of the first baseman’s shattered bat wound up hitting Ravelo in the knee as he ran towards third. The 19-year-old was immediately removed from the game after a brief visit from Red Sox manager Alex Cora and a member of the team’s training staff.
Next up: Whitlock makes first start of spring
The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Monday afternoon to host the Pirates. Garrett Whitlock is slated to make his first start of the spring for Boston while fellow right-hander Luis Ortiz will take the mound for Pittsburgh.
First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Greg Allen: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)