#RedSox Split St. Patrick’s Day Split-Squad Doubleheader Against Pirates and Rays

The Red Sox both improved and fell to 8-14-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a St. Patrick’s Day split-squad split, with the 3-2 win coming at JetBlue Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 8-1 defeat coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

Beginning with the contest against the Rays, David Price was originally scheduled to make his second start of the spring against his old club, but the left-hander was scratched Sunday morning due to illness.

In his place, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson, who was going to pitch anyway, surrendered two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and walks to go along with three strikeouts in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Johnson faced 13 Rays hitters on the afternoon, retiring eight of them while allowing five to reach base before getting the hook with one out to get in the top half of the third.

From there, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Adam Lau, Colten Brewer, Jenrry Mejia, Durbin Feltman, Hunter Smith, and Eduard Bazardo combined to hold Tampa Bay scoreless over the final 6.1 frames on Sunday, as they scattered just two hits, six walks, and six strikeouts en route to the win.

Hembree, who worked the start of the fourth inning, struggled with control a bit, which was evident by him walking the bases loaded while failing to retire the side.

Feltman, meanwhile, fanned the first two hitters he faced in relatively easy fashion, but could not finish things off after giving up a two out double and surrendering two straight walks.

Bazardo, who was signed as an international free agent by Boston back in 2014, picked up the save in his Grapefruit League debut thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox split-squad lineup was matched up against Rays minor leaguer Ryan Merrit to kick things off.

Starting the scoring in this one was Brock Holt, whose leadoff double in the first would translate to Boston’s first run of the afternoon coming around to score on a two out RBI double off the bat of JD Martinez.

Fast forward all the way to the bottom half of the eighth, trailing by a run, and back-to-back two out RBI knocks from Danny Mars and Ryan Fitzgerald pulled the Red Sox up a run themselves, as 3-2 would go on to be the final score in this one.

Meanwhile, over in Bradenton, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the lone highlight for Boston in this one with, in his one words, “probably the most amazing play I’ve ever made.”

Steve Pearce left in the first inning after feeling discomfort in his left calf while running out a grounder in his first and only at bat of the afternoon.

When asked about it, the 2018 World Series MVP said, “I didn’t feel a pop. There wasn’t anything that was too alarming. I just don’t like how it is right now.”

His departure on Sunday seems more precautionary than anything, but it would not be too surprising if the 35-year-old Pearce is held out of action for the next few days to ensure all is well with that left calf.

Some additional notes from Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader:

Colten Brewer faced the minimum six hitters in two shutout frames against the Rays, while Jenrry Mejia also held Tampa Bay scoreless to go along with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

Triston Casas, who was Boston’s first round selection in the 2018 draft, made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut at JetBlue Park as a defensive replacement for Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

The 19-year-old prospect went 0/1 with a walk and a strikeout while also seeing a fair amount of action over at first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the short trek to Hammond Stadium on Monday to face the Minnesota Twins in the sixth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while ace right-hander Jose Berrios will be doing the same for Minnesota.

The last time these two clubs linked up, Eovaldi allowed one run over three innings in his first start of the spring, while Berrios allowed a pair of runs over 3.1 innings.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN does not have it covered.

Advertisements

Chris Sale Fans Seven and Mookie Betts Homers as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Victory over Braves

The Red Sox improved to 7-13-1 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, marking their first win since March 5th.

After tossing three innings in a minor league contest this past Monday, Chris Sale finally made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut in this one.

With a pitch limit set at no more than 65, the ace left-hander held Atlanta scoreless while scattering two hits and striking out seven, five of which came consecutively, in four quality frames of work. He did not walk a single batter.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 50 before heading out to finish his day in the Red Sox bullpen, Sale topped out at 93 MPH with his fastball and also mixed in a fair amount of changeups and sliders.

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, we got a significant glimpse at what could potentially be the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to surrender only one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over the final five innings on Saturday.

Like Sale, Brasier also made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Previously dealing with a toe infection earlier in the spring, the 2018 standout reliever struck out one while also allowing that lone Atlanta run to cross the plate in their half of the sixth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, finally put together his first shutout performance of the year, as he retired three of the four hitters he faced in a solid seventh inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Braves number-two prospect Kyle Wright to start things off on Saturday.

As he typically does, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston by lacing a one out first inning single off Wright.

One Mitch Moreland double later, and JD Martinez collected his first RBI of the spring on a sac-fly to right.

That plated Betts and advanced Moreland to third, who would then come around to score himself on an RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox an early two-run advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Betts struck again by blasting his first home run of the year off Braves reliever Shane Carle, a monumental solo shot over the JetBlue Park Green Monster.

An inning later, Brock Holt would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run frame for Boston by drawing a leadoff walk off Luke Jackson.

Two back-to-back RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. later, the Red sox found themselves up 5-1.

After stealing third, Bradley would come in to score on a Chad De La Guerra sacrifice fly, which would plate the club’s sixth and final run of the day, as 6-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Eduardo Nunez had himself a nice day at the plate with that RBI double. He also flashed the leather at third on a hard-hit ground ball from Adam Duvall in the fourth inning.

Darwinzon Hernandez, who was responsible for the final two innings on Saturday, briefly received a visit from Alex Cora and a trainer in the eighth, but remained in the game to close things out.

In his third game back, Dustin Pedroia went 0/3 out of the leadoff spot. He started the first five innings at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be some split-squad action against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

One group will remain in Fort Myers to host the Rays with David Price slated to start, while the other group will head to Bradenton to face the Pirates, with Marcus Walden getting the start there.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is listed as Sunday’s starter for Pittsburgh, while Tampa Bay will be going with lefty Ryan Merritt.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN has the Rays game covered.

Also, here’s what Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s win:

#RedSox Limited to One Run by Pirates in Steve Pearce’s Spring Debut

On a busy day at JetBlue Park, the Red Sox fell to 6-6 in Grapefruit League play and saw their three-game winning streak come to an end on Wednesday following a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Non-roster invitee Josh Smith made the start for the Red Sox in this one.

Going the first two innings, the journeyman right-hander surrendered two earned runs on four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon. He was later charged with his first losing decision of the year.

Through three appearances (two starts) this spring, the 31-year-old Smith, who spent parts of 2018 in both the Seattle Mariners and Red Sox organization, owns a 7.94 ERA as well as six strikeouts over 5.2 innings pitched.

From the top of the third inning on, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Ryan Weber, Brian Ellington, Dan Runzler, and Adam Lau combined to allow four runs to score on 10 hits, seven walks, and seven punch outs.

Brewer had the cleanest outing of the bunch, as the former Pirates draftee fanned a pair and faced the minimum in a perfect fourth inning.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held to one run on just three hits by starter Nick Kingham and the rest of the Pirates staff.

That one run came in the bottom half of the fifth inning, when Sandy Leon drove in Jackie Bradley Jr. from second on an RBI single.

Some notes from this 6-1 loss:

In his 2019 spring debut and first ever Grapefruit League game in a Red Sox uniform, 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce went 0/2 batting sixth and manning first base up until the sixth inning.

Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts, meanwhile, batting first and second in Boston’s starting lineup, went a combined 2/5 with a single each. Benintendi also struck out once.

Next up for the Red Sox, they welcome the Minnesota Twins to JetBlue for the fourth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Right-hander Kohl Stewart will get the start for the Twins, while left-hander Brian Johnson will do the same for Boston.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. ESPN is the way to go once again, as Mookie Betts is set to be mic’d up like Jackie Bradley Jr. was on Wednesday.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Stays Hot as #RedSox Run Away with 13-5 Win over Nationals

The Red Sox improved to 3-3 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday with a 13-5 victory over the Washington Nationals at JetBlue Park.

Matched up against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer for the Nats, Hector Velazquez made his first official appearance of the spring and got the starting nod for this one.

Tossing two full innings, the right-hander surrendered three earned runs, all of which came in the top half of the second, on four hits and one strikeout. If there’s a positive to be taken out of Velazquez’s outing, it’s that he did not walk a batter.

30th-ranked prospect Denyi Reyes followed Velazquez, and he did not fare much better in the two frames he appeared in. The former international signee out of the Dominican Republic gave up a pair of runs himself on three hits and three walks heading into the middle of the fourth inning.

From there, Red Sox pitching settled down a bit, as Ryan Weber, Josh Smith, and Jenrry Mejia combined to toss four innings of scoreless baseball to close this contest out.

Most impressive out of these performances would have to go to Mejia. The former Mets reliever who was once banned from the game struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth.

On the other side of things, as I mentioned earlier, the Red Sox lineup, headed by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts, was matched up against Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

“Mad Max,” as they fondly call him in the nation’s capital, was essentially lights out to start this one out, facing one over the minimum in three scoreless innings of work to go along with four punch outs.

It was not until the fourth inning when the Red Sox started to get going, with right-hander Erick Fedde taking over for Washington.

Four consecutive one out hits from Bradley Jr., Bogaerts, Brock Holt, and Blake Swihart initially cut Boston’s deficit from five runs to three.

Swihart, who tragically lost his brother on Wednesday, surprisingly played the day after and was rewarded with a hard-hit opposite field RBI single.

Sam Travis would come in to pinch run for Swihart following that at bat, and the backstop was greeted with a hug from Red Sox manager Alex Cora upon returning to the home dugout.

An inning later, Boston’s bats exploded for EIGHT runs in the fifth on a Bradley Jr. RBI single, a Bogaerts RBI double, a three-run home run off the bat of Brock Holt…

…a Tate Matheny RBI base knock, and finally, a Cole Sturgeon RBI three-bagger to make it a 10-5 game at that point. In total, the Red Sox sent 12 hitters to the plate in their half of the fifth.

The fun did not stop there though, as Austin Rei and Jeremy Rivera tacked on an additional three runs to give their club a 13-5 advantage. That would go on to be the final score in this one.

One note from this win:

Jackie Bradley Jr. finished the afternoon 3/3 with one double and one RBI. So far this spring, he’s slashing .750/.750/1.625 with two home runs and three RBI over eight at bats.

Next up for the Red Sox is a short trip to the CenturyLink Sports Complex to face off against the Minnesota Twins in the second game of the annual Mayor’s Cup. Boston defeated the Twins the last time these two sides played last sunday by a final score of 8-5.

Set to pitch for the Red Sox in this one is left-hander Josh Taylor. He’ll be opposed by former Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda, who has not pitched in a big league game since 2017 following Tommy John surgery that year.

First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. This game will be aired on MLB Network, not NESN.

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. Homers Again and Other Notes from Wednesday’s #RedSox Split-Squad Action

The Red Sox partook in some split-squad action Wednesday, hosting the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park and making the trek to Port Charlotte to face the Tampa Bay Rays.

In Fort Myers, reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts made his 2019 spring debut, starting in right field and batting in the two-hole behind Jackie Bradley Jr.

Speaking of Bradley Jr., the outfielder stayed hot on Wednesday as he led things off against Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa with his second home run of the spring, a line drive to dead center.

Bradley Jr. also collected a single in the fourth inning, a hit he said, “that’s a ball I would roll over. And I was able to hit the path correctly and I was able to get it over the infielder’s head.” It looks like that modified swing is already paying off for the 2018 Gold Glove winner.

Betts, meanwhile, failed to collect a hit a hit in three at bats, striking out once. Remember, in 2018, the Tennessee native started his spring by going 0-for-his-first-16. Nothing to worry about there.

Top prospect Michael Chavis was also in Wednesday’s lineup against Baltimore, and he picked up right where he left off from this past weekend by mashing another three-run home run in the bottom half of the fourth off of Bo Schultz, his third in the last five days.

Chavis, 23, is slashing .444/.500/1.944 with three homers and nine RBI so far this spring.

Tzu-Wei Lin and Oscar Hernandez also collected RBI in the ninth inning of this one in a 7-6 loss for Boston.

Pitching wise, Eduardo Rodriguez made his 2019 spring debut against the team he originally signed with as an international free agent in 2010.

The left-hander started things off by working the first two innings on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of earned runs on three hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts.

Tyler Thornburg also made his first relief appearance of 2019 in the fourth, surrendering two runs on two hits, one of which a two-run homer off the bat of Orioles catcher Chance Sisco.

Darwinzon Hernandez and Marcus Walden each impressed to close this thing out, putting together a combined four shutout innings and holding Baltimore to four baserunners.

Meanwhile, in Port Charlotte, Rafael Devers had himself a fine day at the plate against the Rays, finishing 3/3 with a home run and two RBI batting third in the Red Sox lineup.

Pinch-running specialist Tony Renda also went deep in this contest, taking Tampa Bay right-hander Jacob Faria yard with a solo home run of his own in the seventh inning.

Boston’s eighth-ranked prospect CJ Chatham also drove in a run on a fourth inning RBI single.

RHP Mike Shawaryn made his first official start of the spring on Wednesday. The University of Maryland product surrendered two runs on two hits, one strikeout, and one walk in the lone frame he appeared in.

Opening Day roster hopeful Travis Lakins had the best day of any Red Sox hurler in this second game of a split-squad doubleheader, as the right-hander worked two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out one as well.

The Red Sox fell to the Rays by a final score of 5-4.

Next up for Boston, they’ll welcome the Washington Nationals into JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Scheduled to start for the Nationals is three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, while Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for the Red Sox.

Should be an exciting one.

First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET and the game will air on Boston 25 if you’re in the Boston market, and NESN if you are not.

Rest in Peace, Romell Jordan.

 

Three Home Runs Power #RedSox to 8-5 Comeback Win over Twins

The Red Sox battled their way back and improved to 2-0 in Grapefruit League play with another 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon at JetBlue Park.

Making a brief one inning start in this one was ex-Rays right-hander Ryan Weber, who signed a minor league contract with Boston in December.

Greeted right away with a leadoff home run off the bat of Twins slugger Max Kepler, the 28-year-old Weber certainly did not make a positive first impression with his new club, as he went on to surrender an additional run on two doubles and a hit by pitch.

What transpired an inning later was far from promising as well, with left-hander Dedgar Jimenez serving up a pair of home runs to Randy Cesar and Kepler again in his lone frame of work.

From there, Red Sox pitching improved immensely. Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, Denyi Reyes, Mark Montgomery, and Matthew Gorst all impressed in their spring debuts, combining for six innings of one run ball.

It should be noted that Workman and Brewer both struck out the side in their respective innings of relief.

Brewer, 26, was acquired from the San Diego Padres in November and looks primed to win a spot in Boston’s bullpen to begin the season.

Reyes, meanwhile, is the 30th-ranked prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, according to MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old right-hander posted a miniscule 1.97 ERA in 27 appearances (24 starts) and 155.2 innings pitched with Greenville and Salem this past season and was a surprise add to Boston’s 40-man roster in November.

Back to Sunday’s game, 18th-ranked prospect Kutter Crawford came on to close things out in the ninth following a four-run Red Sox rally in their half of the eighth.

Listed at 6’1″ and 192 pounds, the Florida Gulf Coast product worked his way around a bases loaded jam to eventually shut the door on the Twins, thus preserving the save as well as the win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup featured a fair amount of regulars for the first time this spring.

Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and Christian Vazquez represented the top seven of Boston’s batting order and combined for just two hits.

Bradley Jr., who has been working on a modified swing this spring, made his presence felt immediately with a rocket of a solo home run off of Twins starter Martin Perez in the first inning.

In the second, a one out double off the bat of Eduardo Nunez eventually led to Boston’s second run of the afternoon coming around to score on a Sam Travis two out RBI single.

Fast forward to the sixth with the Twins leading 5-2, and Red Sox prospect Tate Matheny, son of former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, pulled his team to within one run by mashing a monster two-run home run off of Massachusetts native Tim Collins.

Finally, in the eighth, fresh off a solid 2019 debut on Saturday, Michael Chavis impressed yet again by delivering in the clutch with a two-out go-ahead three run home run to left field off Twins reliever Pat Dean. His second three-run homer in as many days.

Following a Minnesota pitching change, Bobby Dalbec, who homered on Friday, tacked on some insurance with an RBI single that plated Jagger Rusconi from third.

That put Boston up 8-5, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Next up for the Red Sox is the first road action of 2019, with a trip to Bradenton to face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates on deck for Monday.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Bobby Poyner, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Tzu-Wei Lin, Sam Travis, Bryce Brentz, Rusney Castillo and Gorkys Hernandez are all set to appear tomorrow while Brian Johnson will handle the starting pitching duties.

RHP Jordan Lyles will make the start for Pittsburgh.

First pitch on Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET at LECOM Park. It does not look like this game will be on NESN.

Expect More Regulars in #RedSox Lineup on Sunday

The Red Sox will host the Minnesota Twins in a Grapefruit League matchup on Sunday afternoon.

Two games into spring training, one against the Northeastern Huskies baseball team and one against the New York Yankees, we have yet to see many of the regulars who were consistently in Boston’s lineup during their 2018 World Series run.

That will all change tomorrow at JetBlue Park.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Sunday’s starting infield will consist of Rafael Devers at third, Xander Bogaerts at short, Brock Holt at second, and Sam Travis at first. In the outfield, it will be Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Cole Sturgeon from left to right while Christian Vazquez will catch Ryan Weber to start things off and Eduardo Nunez will serve as the designated hitter.

Meanwhile, reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts will make his 2019 spring debut on Wednesday against either the Baltimore Orioles or Tampa Bay Rays in some split-squad action. This is just a guess, but I would assume Betts’ debut will come against the Orioles since that game will be taking place at JetBlue Park.

Anyway, first pitch against the Twins on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 ET. Martin Perez vs. Ryan Weber is the starting pitching matchup.