Josh Ockimey Homers as Red Sox Fall to Orioles in First Loss of Spring

After opening up Grapefruit League play with a 4-3 win over the Rays on Saturday, the Red Sox took to the road for the first time this spring and fell to the Orioles in Sarosata by a final score of 11-5.

Making his first start of the spring for Boston was Chris Mazza, who was originally scheduled to pitch in relief of Eduardo Rodriguez, but because Rodriguez was pushed back a day due to left knee soreness, Mazza got the nod from interim manager Ron Roenicke.

Working the first two innings of this one, the right-hander yielded one earned run on three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

That one O’s run came in the bottom half of the second, when after working his way around a bases-loaded jam in the first, Mazza allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, setting up Stevie Wilkerson to knock in his side’s first tally on an RBI groundout to short.

The 30-year-old Mazza did manage to escape the second without giving anything else up, but it was far from a solid first impression for someone vying for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation.

From there, pitching did not get any easier for Boston, as newly-acquired left-hander Matt Hall surrendered a pair of runs in the third, Emmanuel De Jesus tossed a scoreless fourth, Bobby Poyner and Yoan Aybar gave up another pair of runs each in the fifth and sixth, Jhonathan Diaz was only able to record the first two outs of the seventh while being walloped for four runs (three earned), Adam Lau retired the only hitter he faced to record the final out of the seventh, and Konner Wade worked a perfect eighth to at least end things on a somewhat positive note.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender 11 runs on 15 hits and eight walks over eight total innings of work. It’s only the beginning stages of spring training, but that does not make those numbers any easier to look at.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured several regulars on Saturday did not look quite the same on Sunday.

A familiar foe in left-hander Wade LeBlanc started things out for the Orioles by working two scoreless frames, and it wasn’t until the top half of the fourth when the Boston bats finally got going.

There, top outfield prospect Jarren Duran led things off against new O’s reliever Brandon Bailey by lacing a leadoff triple to the deepest part of the yard in center field, mere feet away from his first home run of the spring.

That brought Kevin Plawecki to the plate with the chance to make an impact as he vies for the backup catcher spot, and he did just that by driving in Duran from third on an RBI groundout to first. 3-1.

Fast forward all the way to the top half of the ninth, with this one already well out of reach, and the Sox staged a rally similar to the one the Rays put on against them the day prior.

A leadoff double off the bat of Cole Sturgeon, followed by a walk drawn by Ryan Fitzgerald put runners in scoring position with no outs for Tate Matheny.

Matheny may have struck out, but a wild pitch from Orioles hurler Evan Phillips during his at-bat allowed Sturgeon and Matheny to advance 90 feet for Nick Longhi.

Phillips’ wildness persisted, as Sturgeon crossed the plate on another wild pitch and Fitzgerald scored on a run-scoring groundout from Longhi. 11-3.

A walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Keith Curcio marked the conclusion of Phillips’ day for Baltimore, and in came right-hander Francisco Jimenez to replace him.

Jimenez was promptly greeted by slugging first baseman Josh Ockimey, who unloaded on a 2-0 fastball down the heart of the plate and deposited it deep over the fence in right field for the Red Sox’ first home run of the spring.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s deficit to six runs at 11-5, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score after the rally was cut short.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox will not go the entire year without a loss.

Jarren Duran is emerging as one of the more exciting players to watch on this team this spring. With his speed and athleticism, it’s easy to see why he was selected to the Futures Game last year.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s some split-squad action on Monday against the Rays and Twins.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start against Minnesota at the nearby CenturyLink Sports Complex, while top right-handed pitching prospect Tanner Houck will do the same against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte.

Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, will throw a simulated game on one of the Fenway South back fields on Monday.

For the Twins, it will be right-hander Kenta Maeda getting the start. And for the Rays, it will be righty Yonny Chirinos.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST, although neither game will be on NESN.

Twins Reportedly Pull out of Three-Team Trade That Would Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Dodgers and Brusdar Graterol to Red Sox

UPDATE: Apparently the Twins have not pulled out and are willing to “renegotiate” with the Red Sox and Dodgers, according to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.

The Minnesota Twins are pulling out of the three-team trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, according to the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III.

This means that Minnesota will be holding on to right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, who was supposed to go to Boston in the original trade, and will not be getting right-hander Kenta Maeda from Los Angeles.

The original proposal that would have sent Betts, Price, and cash considerations to the Dodgers, Maeda to the Twins, and Graterol and outfielder Alex Verdugo to the Sox was reportedly agreed upon by all three clubs Tuesday night, but talks have since fallen off.

That is mainly the case because upon reviewing Graterol’s medical review, Boston felt that the 21-year-old flamethrower projected to be a reliever rather than a starter as originally thought, which led to the Sox seeking additional compensation in the form of another top-10 prospect from Minnesota.

If the Red Sox and Dodgers want to see this trade through, they will either have to find a different third team or work things out between themselves.

The Dodgers may be even more motivated to get this done, as they have another trade lined up where they would send outfielder Joc Pederson and right-hander Ross Stripling to the Angels in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo.

It’s been a hellish last few days for all parties involved, and with pitchers and catchers due to report to Fenway South on Wednesday, there’s a real chance David Price and Mookie Betts are still members of the Red Sox by then.

Red Sox Reportedly Seeking Another Top Prospect From Twins in Blockbuster Trade That Would Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Dodgers

The Red Sox are reportedly still seeking a top prospect from the Minnesota Twins in addition to right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol in order to complete the three-team trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

At this point in time, per Heyman, Minnesota has yet to budge from their original offer.

This news comes one day after it was reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that the Red Sox, upon reviewing his medical information, viewed Graterol more as a reliever than a future starter, leading to the club seeking additional compensation for parting ways with two of its marquee players.

As a result of this, any official movement between Boston, Los Angeles, and Minnesota has been at an impasse.

In the original trade proposal, the Sox would be receiving Graterol and outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers would be receiving Betts, Price, and cash considerations, and the Twins would be receiving right-hander Kenta Maeda.

Compared to the Red Sox and Dodgers, the Twins’ return in this scenario is minimal, so it is understandable why they would not want to throw in an additional top-10 prospect when it would not really benefit them.

Because Boston and Los Angeles appear to and should be motivated to complete this deal before pitchers and catchers report next week, there are a plethora of directions they could go with this.

First off, the Twins could remain on as the third team while the Dodgers throw in another prospect to satisfy the Sox’ needs. On the other hand, the Sox and Dodgers could either try and work out a trade themselves or find a completely different third team that would fill the gap left by the Twins.

Either way, this trade is still going to happen, probably. It just may not go down the way it was initially set up to.

Red Sox Deal Mookie Betts, David Price to Dodgers in Blockbuster Trade

The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to trade star outfielder Mookie Betts and left-handed pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In return, Boston would receive outfielder Alex Verdugo and right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from Los Angeles.

Graterol was acquired by the Dodgers from the Twins in an earlier trade that sent right-hander Kenta Maeda to Minnesota. In total, five players were involved in this three-team blockbuster.

For the past week or so, it seemed as though a deal involving Betts going to a National League West club was inevitable, with the Dodgers eventually winning the sweepstakes and the Padres presumably finishing as the runner-up.

The 27-year-old is set to earn $27 million in 2020 before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

As for Price, the 34-year-old is still owed $96 million over the final three years of the seven-year, $217 million pact he inked with the Sox back in December 2015. It looks like Boston will be responsible for about half of that financial commitment going forward with Los Angeles picking up the rest.

In Verdugo and Graterol, the Red Sox now have two controllable pieces who have both seen time in the majors recently.

Starting with Verdugo, the 23-year-old out of Tuscon, Arizona appeared in 106 games for the Dodgers last season, slashing .294/.342/.475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI.

Back in August, Verdugo was placed on the injured list due to a right oblique strain and did not appear in a major league game for the remainder of the year after suffering a setback while on a minor-league rehab assignment. He also dealt with lower back soreness.

With Graterol, the Sox get Baseball America’s 60th-ranked prospect headed into the new season.

The 21-year-old Venezuelan made his major-league debut for Minnesota last September and allowed a total of five earned runs on 10 hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts over 10 relief appearances spanning 9 2/3 innings of work.

Graterol projects to be either a middle-of-the-rotation starter or high-leverage reliever, depending on how well he can manage his arsenal, which includes a high-velocity sinker.

Of course, parting ways with both Betts and Price stings mightily. The pair played key roles in one of the most successful runs in franchise history that included three straight American League East titles and a historic World Series-winning campaign in 2018.

Originally drafted out of high school in the fifth round of the 2011 amateur draft, Betts rose to become the best homegrown player the Red Sox have developed in quite some time.

Because Betts will be a free agent for the first time come November, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe that the two sides could entertain a potential reunion when the time comes.

Betts’ strategy seems to be to go to the highest bidder once he does hit the open market, so if the Red Sox are willing to meet his demands, which seems unlikely at this point, why not? A man can dream.

This blockbuster may not have been Chaim Bloom’s first move since being named the Sox’ chief baseball officer last October, but it sure is the most impactful one.

Since medical information still needs to be reviewed, this trade has yet to be finalized.

Three Home Runs and Seven Masterful Innings from Eduardo Rodriguez Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 8-1 Win over Dodgers

In their first game at Fenway Park since June 26th, the Red Sox took the first of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, opening the second half of their season with a commanding 8-1 victory Friday night.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston in this World Series rematch was Eduardo Rodriguez, who capped off his first half with back-to-back outings of five or more innings pitched and less than two runs given up.

Picking up right where he left off in this one, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on five hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts to tie a season-high over seven quality innings of work.

That one Los Angeles run came in the top half of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Alex Verdugo unloaded on a 1-2, 87 MPH cutter from Rodriguez and deposited 374 feet into the right field seats.

Other than that, the Venezuela native maneuvered his way around back-to-back walks earlier in the first before retiring 17 of the next 21 Dodgers hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, where his night came to a close with a ground out off the bat of Corey Seager to strand runners at first and second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (67 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing eight swings and misses and topping out at 94.1 MPH with the pitch. He also got 11 whiffs with his changeup, a pitch he threw 33 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Improving to 10-4 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.43, Rodriguez will look to keep this recent encouraging run going in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, after an hour-long rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on, fanned one and tossed a scoreless eighth to make way for Hector Velazquez in the ninth.

Like Taylor, Velazquez also punched out one lone Dodger en route to securing the convincing 8-1 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, who allowed one run over three relief appearances against Boston in last year’s Fall Classic.

Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away in the first inning, picking up where he left off before the break by mashing his 17th home run of the season, a 372-foot opposite field shot over the Monster, to put his team on the board.

An inning later, it was Christian Vazquez getting back in the swing of things, this time taking Maeda deep to left on a one-out, 3-2 changeup for his 15tth big fly which also broke a brief 1-1 stalemate.

Fast forward to the sixth, after the Dodgers starter had his way for a bit, and back-to-back doubles from Mookie Betts and Devers to lead off the frame got Boston back on the board again. 3-1.

In the seventh, with Maedo out and reliever Pedro Baez in, a one-out single from Jackie Bradley Jr., followed by Michael Chavis and Bradley Jr. both reaching base safely on a fielder’s choice, brought Brock Holt to the plate in a prime insurance run spot.

Having only faced the Dodgers one-time before Friday in his career, Holt capitalized on said run-scoring opportunity with a first-pitch RBI double off the left field wall, scoring Bradley Jr. and advancing Chavis up to third.

That gave the Sox a 4-1 advantage, and an hour-long weather delay meant Los Angeles had to turn to a new pitcher in righty JT Chargois with one out and runners in scoring position for Boston.

Mookie Betts came through in his first at-bat following the lengthy stoppage, driving in Chavis from third on a sacrifice fly to center. 5-1.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts made the Dodgers pay for intentionally walking Devers by punishing a 1-1 slider from Chargois and sending it 388 feet just over that home run marker on the Monster.

Bogaerts’ 18th blast of 2019 put the Red Sox ahead 8-1, and that would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 6-1 in their last seven games. Over that span, they are averaging 7.7 runs per game.

The 22 swings and misses Eduardo Rodriguez got on Friday set a new career-high.

From Red Sox Notes

From WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Red Sox Stats

From the Red Sox:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Ross Stripling will do the same for Los Angeles.

Since June 15th, Sale has posted a 5.96 ERA and .301 batting average against over his last four starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched.

Last time he pitched against the Dodgers, Sale recorded the final out of the 2018 World Series in Game 5.

Stripling, meanwhile, did not make an appearance at all for LA last October, and only has one prior start against the Sox under his belt, one in which he put together five scoreless innings in a winning effort back on August 6th, 2016.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox going for their sixth straight win.