After managing to score just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday, the Red Sox fell to 3-5-1 in Grapefruit League action on Saturday following a 5-2 defeat at the hands of a split Yankees squad on a sunny afternoon at JetBlue Park.
Making his first start of the spring for Boston for Eduardo Rodriguez, whose 2020 debut was pushed back to Saturday after he slipped and twisted his left knee in a bullpen session two Wednesdays ago.
Tossing the first three innings of this one, the left-hander impressed by holding the Yankees off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.
Two of those three frames were perfect for Rodriguez. The only real trouble he ran into came in the second, when he allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base on a double and single, but he worked his way through that with the help of an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play and proceeded to strike out the side in the third.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 52, the 26-year-old’s next outing should come against the Astros on Thursday.
In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier made his spring debut out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he yielded the first run of the day on three hits and a strikeout in the top of the fourth.
Heath Hembree also debuted in the fifth, and he filled the bases with two outs before getting Clint Frazier to hit into what looked to be an inning-ending infield pop fly.
Instead, Christian Vazquez lost the ball in the sun, the ball landed in fair territory, and two runs crossed the plate as a result.
A pitching change that saw Mike Shawaryn take over for Hembree didn’t fare any better for the Sox, as the right-hander walked another and brought in another Yankees run on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 contest.
From there, Shawaryn finished the fifth, left-hander Jeffrey Springs punched out the side in the sixth, Yoan Aybar surrendered one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Brian Johnson closed things out with two perfect frames of relief in the eighth and ninth.
In total, Boston pitching combined to give up five runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks to go along with 12 total strikeouts.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Vazquez, Mitch Moreland, Jose Peraza, Jonathan Lucroy, Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson was matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery to begin things on Saturday.
Montgomery held his own in his two innings of work, and it wasn’t until the bottom half of the fourth when the Boston bats made some noise.
There, a two-out walk drawn by Mitch Moreland followed with a double off the bat of Jose Peraza and another walk drawn by Jonathan Lucroy filled the bases for top prospect Bobby Dalbec.
Up against new Yankees reliever Daniel Alvarez, Dalbec first contributed to the cause without even swinging his bat, as a balk from Alvarez brought in the pinch-running Tommy Joseph from third.
A few moments later, Dalbec did contribute with his bat, as the 24-year-old powered an RBI single to shallow left field, plating Peraza from third and giving his side their first lead of the afternoon at 2-1.
Fast forward all the way to the ninth, after New York had jumped out to a 5-2 edge, and three straight walks drawn by Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Marco Hernandez to lead off the frame filled the bases and brought the winning run to the plate with no outs.
Alas, nothing came of a golden opportunity, as reliever Domingo Acevedo settled down and stranded the bases loaded by retiring the final three Red Sox he faced in order, thus ending this contest with a final score of 5-2.
Some observations from this loss:
It looked like Juan Centeno rolled his right ankle in the eighth inning while running to first and ducking an errant throw. He had to leave the game, but he was able to walk off under his own power and was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle.
Jose Peraza went 2-for-2 with a double and run scored.
Tzu-Wei Lin went 2-for-3 off the bench while playing center field.
Jonathan Lucroy went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts while serving as designated hitter Saturday. Kevin Plawecki did not play.
It’s still early, but not great first impressions on the year from Heath Hembree nor Ryan Brasier.
Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park Sunday afternoon.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Mike Foltynewicz will do the same for Atlanta.
Eovaldi is coming off a fine outing in his last time out against the Twins where he fanned four over two scoreless innings of work last Monday.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST on NESN.