Bobby Dalbec, Ronaldo Hernández, and Jorge Alfaro all hit two-run homers as Red Sox hold on for 7-4 win over Pirates

The Red Sox put an end to their three-game losing streak with a win over the Pirates in Bradenton on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 7-4 at LECOM Park to improve to 13-10-4 in Grapefruit League play.

Right out of the gate, Bobby Dalbec provided the Sox with an early two-run lead in the top of the first inning. Following a one-out double from Triston Casas, Dalbec took 1-2, 84 mph curveball from Pirates opener Duane Underwood Jr. and deposited it 409 feet to deep left field for his second home run of the spring.

Dalbec’s blast gave Josh Winckowski a two-run cushion to work with ahead of his third start and fourth overall appearance of the spring. The right-hander pitched well on Thursday, allowing just two earned runs on five hits and no walks to go along with two strikeouts over four innings of work.

Both of those Pirates runs came in the latter half of the second inning. After giving up a one-out single to Ke’Bryan Hayes, Winckowski yielded an RBI double to Canaan Smith-Njigba that Hayes scored all the way from first base on. Smith-Njigba was then driven in on a then-game-tying RBI single from Ji Hwan Bae. Jarren Duran fielded Bae’s single cleanly in center field and made an accurate throw towards home plate, but catcher Jorge Alfaro was unable to land a tag on Smith-Njigba.

Despite getting relatively hit hard in the second, Winckowski settled in retired six of the final seven batters he faced. He received some significant defensive help from second baseman Nick Yorke, who hustled out to right field to rob Carlos Santana of a base hit and then, from his knees, made a strong throw to first base to double up Bryan Reynolds for the final two outs of the third.

Winckowski made quick work of the Pirates in the fourth to end his day on a strong note. The 24-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 55 (39 strikes). He induced two swings-and-misses while mixing in a slider, sinker, cutter, changeup, and four-seam fastball, per Baseball Savant.

Shortly after Winckowski recorded the final out of the fourth, the Red Sox struck again in the fifth. This time, former Pirates outfielder Greg Allen reached base on a one-out double off Johan Oviedo before Ronaldo Hernandez crushed another two-run homer to left field, making it a 4-2 game in favor of Boston.

Following a scoreless bottom of the fifth from Richard Bleier, Daniel Palka drew a leadoff walk off Chase De Jong to begin things in the sixth. Jorge Alfaro then unloaded on a 2-2, 83 mph slider from De Jong and sent it 408 feet into the left field seats. Alfaro’s second big fly of the spring left his bat at a blistering 105.1 mph. It also gave the Red Sox a 6-2 lead.

From there, Ryan Brasier and Ryan Sherriff combined for two more shutout frames out of the Boston bullpen. In the top of the eighth, Allen picked up an RBI by driving in Caleb Hamilton on a sacrifice fly to center field. The Pirates responded by tagging Luis Guerrero for two runs in their half of the inning. Both of those runs came on a two-run shot from Rodolfo Castro to cut the deficit to three.

Taking a 7-4 edge into the ninth, Joe Jacques worked his way around a walk and hit batsman by striking out the side to simultaneously notch the save and secure a win for the Red Sox.

Casas doubles twice in return:

After missing the last two games with a swollen left pinky, Triston Casas went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored out of the two-hole on Thursday. The two doubles left his bat at 107.8 mph and 80.1 mph, respectively.

Next up: Pivetta makes final start of spring

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Friday night to host the Braves. Right-hander Nick Pivetta will make his final start of the spring for Boston opposite Atlanta left-hander Dylan Dodd.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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