The Red Sox went deep six times en route to a high-scoring win over the Yankees on Thursday afternoon. In the first of 15 meetings between the two rivals this year, Boston defeated New York by a final score of 11-7 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
With Clarke Schmidt starting for the Yankees, the Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in their half of the second inning. After Reese McGuire reached base via a one-out single, Narciso Crook got his side on the board first by crushing a 327-foot two-run home run down the right field line.
Nick Pivetta, who was making his second start of the spring for Boston, had already worked a scoreless first inning. But the right-hander ran into some trouble in the second after issuing a pair of walks to Josh Donaldson and Rafael Ortega. He then gave up a game-tying, two-run single to Jose Trevino.
Having already thrown 33 pitches in the second inning alone, Pivetta was pulled by Red Sox manager Alex Cora with two outs. Ryan Miller, who was acquired from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of December’s Rule 5 Draft, was called upon on to record the final out of the second. Pivetta’s day, however, was not yet over.
After Schmidt stranded one runner in the top of the third, Pivetta came back out for the bottom half of the inning. The 30-year-old hurler surrendered a leadoff single to Aaron Judge but ended his afternoon on a more positive note by fanning Anthony Rizzo on five pitches.
All told, Pivetta allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts over two total innings of work. He finished with 57 pitches (34 strikes) and averaged 94.7 mph with his four-seam fastball while inducing four swings-and-misses.
Durbin Feltman took over Pivetta with one out in the third and stranded the lone runner he inherited by inducing a pair of groundouts. He was responsible for the fourth inning as well, but he gave up a one-out double to Oswald Peraza and allowed him to score the then-go-ahead run on two wild pitches while Trevino was at the plate.
Following a scoreless fifth inning from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox erupted for six runs in the top of the sixth. Facing off against old friend Tyler Danish, minor-league outfielder Tyler Dearden clubbed a 422-foot solo shot to right-center field to lead things off. After Ceddanne Rafaela reached base with one out, Daniel Palka delivered with a 375-foot homer of his own that put Boston up, 5-3.
Niko Goodrum and McGuire then reached on back-to-back singles before Crook came through with his second big fly of the day. This one left his bat at a blistering 105.3 mph and was deposited 424 feet over the left field wall. The sharply-hit three-run blast gave the Red Sox some breathing room in the form of an 8-3 lead.
Kelly remained in for the bottom of the sixth and retired the final three batters he faced. Eddinson Paulino, who pinch-ran for Enmanuel Valdez the inning prior, led off the seventh inning by launching a 389-foot home run off new Yankees reliever Demarcus Evans. Chase Shugart was next up out of the bullpen after Kelly and also faced the minimum while punching out top prospect Jasson Dominguez in the latter half of the seventh.
After Norwith Gudino put up another zero in the eighth, the Red Sox made sure to make their last at-bats count in the ninth. Christian Koss drew a leadoff walk off Randy Vazquez. Three batters later, Phillip Sikes capped off the scoring by drilling a 395-foot two-run homer that had an exit velocity of 105.7 mph to right field.
Taking a commanding 11-3 advantage into the bottom of the ninth, Gudino served up a pair of home runs (including a three-run shot to Dominguez), but he was ultimately able to hang on and secure an 11-7 victory for the Red Sox.
With the win, which took two hours and 47 minutes to complete, Boston improves to 9-0-3 in Grapefruit League play and 11-0-3 in all competitions this spring.
Other worthwhile observations:
Batting out of the nine-hole and starting in left field on Thursday, Dearden went 2-for-3 with his sixth-inning home run. The 24-year-old was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 29th round of the 2017 amateur draft.
McGuire and Crook went a combined 4-for-6 on Thursday with five RBIs and four runs scored between them.
Next up: Kluber starts against Blue Jays
The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Friday afternoon to host the Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Veteran right-hander Corey Kluber will get the start for Boston opposite fellow righty Zach Thompson for Toronto.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Narciso Crook: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)