Playing under the lights for the first time this spring in Jupiter, Fla., the Red Sox improved to 3-0-1 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday night by taking care of business against the Marlins. Boston defeated Miami by a final score of 7-2 at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
Corey Kluber, who signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in January, made his first start of the spring in this one. The veteran right-hander scattered two hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over two scoreless innings of work. He retired six of the eight batters he faced.
After stranding one runner in the bottom of the first, Kluber gave up a leadoff double to Avisail Garcia to begin things in the second. Garcia then moved up to third base on a fly out, but Kluber kept him there by getting both Joey Wendle and Jerar Encarnacion to ground out to second baseman Nick Sogard.
Of the 26 pitches Kluber threw on Tuesday, 18 went for strikes. The 36-year-old hurler mixed in his cutter, curveball, four-seam fastball, changeup, and sinker while sitting between 77 and 83 mph, per Baseball Savant. He also induced one swing-and-miss.
Shortly after Kluber’s night came to an end, the Red Sox drew first blood in their half of the third. Greg Allen reached base via a one-out double off Marlins reliever JT Chargois. He then scored from second on a groundball RBI single off the bat of Triston Casas.
Boston extended its early lead an inning later. With no outs and runners at second and third following a Rob Refsnyder walk and Jorge Alfaro ground-rule double, Connor Wong plated Refsnyder from third with a run-scoring groundout to third base.
Following scoreless frames out of the bullpen from left-handers Ryan Sherriff and Oddanier Mosqueda. The Allen-Casas combination struck again in the fifth. After Allen led off with a double, Casas promptly crushed a 374-foot two-run home run to deep right field off lefty Dax Fulton. Casas’ first big fly of the spring had an exit velocity of over 103 mph. It also gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.
Norwith Gudino took over for Mosqueda and retired the side in order to end the fifth. The sixth inning was far more eventful. In the top half, Ryan Fitzgerald came through with a two-out, two-run double that scored both Enmanuel Valdez and Narciso Crook. In the bottom half, the Marlins got both of those runs back when non-roster invitee Jake Faria allowed Jake Magnum to score on a wild pitch before serving up a 362-foot solo shot to Garcia.
Brendan Nail was responsible for the seventh inning. The southpaw needed just 13 pitches (10 strikes) to punch out two of the three Miami hitters he faced. In the eighth, Valdez greeted new Marlins reliever Jefry Van by cranking a 379-foot leadoff home run to right field. The 24-year-old’s first long ball of the spring put Boston up by five runs going into the latter half of the frame.
Former Marlin Sterling Sharp then put up a zero in the eighth before Cody Scroggins worked his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean ninth inning to secure a 7-2 victory for the Red Sox.
Tuesday’s contest, which took two hours and 21 minutes to complete, marked the first time the Red Sox had beaten the Marlins in a spring training game since March 24, 2012.
Other notable numbers:
Allen went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot on Tuesday. Bobby Dalbec also went 1-for-3 with a double out of the three-hole.
Fitzgerald, who pinch-hit for Dalbec, went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. His first double had an exit velocity of 103.5 mph while his second double left his bat at a blistering 105.2 mph.
Next up: Second leg of road trip
The Red Sox will head to West Palm Beach to take on the reigning World Series champion Astros on Wednesday afternoon. Lefty Richard Bleier will serve as an opener for Boston while rookie righty Hunter Brown will get the start for Houston.
First pitch from The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern tine. The game will not be televised.
(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)