Powered by a four-run first inning, the Red Sox continued their winning ways this spring by taking care of business against the Tigers on Monday. Boston defeated Detroit by a final score of 7-1 at JetBlue Park to remain unbeaten and improve to 7-0-3 in Grapefruit League play.
Despite the strong showing from the lineup out of the gate, Chris Sale was undoubtedly the headliner in Monday’s win. Making his first start of the spring and his first start of any kind since last July, the veteran left-hander scattered two hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work.
Sale began his day by giving up a leadoff single to Matt Vierling to begin things in the top of the first. He then got Riley Greene to ground into a force out at second base before getting Javier Baez to fly out to center field. Greene successfully stole second to put a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Sale stranded him there by fanning Eric Haase.
In the bottom of the first, the first three Red Sox hitters to face Tigers starter Matt Manning all reached to fill the bases with no outs. Adam Duvall then plated his side’s first run on a sacrifice fly to center and Raimel Tapia followed by lacing an RBI ground-rule double into the triangle. Jorge Alfaro capped off the four-run frame by scoring both Niko Kavadas and Tapia on a two-run single that was misplayed by Greene in right.
Taking a 4-0 lead into the second, Sale picked up where he left off by nonchalantly recording the first two outs of the inning. He then gave up a two-out single to Zach Short, but ended the frame himself by getting Nick Maton to ground out to him in front of the pitcher’s mound.
All told, 24 of the 31 pitches Sale threw on Monday went for strikes. The 33-year-old southpaw retired six of the eight batters he faced and reached 95-96 mph with his fastball, according to the JetBlue Park radar gun.
In relief of Sale, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Boston bullpen and worked his way around a one-out walk of Vierling in the top of the third. The Red Sox then added to their lead in the latter half of the inning when Tapia took Tigers reliever Brendan White deep to right field for his first home run of the spring.
After Brasier got the first two outs of the fourth, Taylor Broadway took over and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of his own through the middle of the fifth. Zack Kelly saw the shutout bid come to an end when he served up a leadoff homer to Greene in the sixth, but the Red Sox quickly responded by pushing across two more runs.
Niko Goodrum reached base on a two-out single off Mason Englert and promptly scored all the way from first on an RBI double off the bat of Kavadas. Fellow 2021 draftee Tyler McDonough followed that up by driving in Kavadas and simultaneously displaying his speed on a run-scoring triple off the center field wall.
That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a commanding 7-1 lead going into the seventh. Three different relievers kept the score that way as Jake Faria struck out two of the three Tigers he faced, Durbin Feltman maneuvered his way around a two-out walk, in an otherwise clean eighth inning, and Norwith Gudino stranded two runners by punching out the side in the ninth.
Before the Red Sox mounted their four-run rally in the first inning, a scary moment arose while Justin Turner was at the plate for his first at-bat of the afternoon. On the first pitch he saw from Manning, Turner took a fastball to the face and fell down immediately with blood spewing from his mouth.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora and head athletic trainer Brandon Henry immediately tended to Turner, who was conscious and left the field under his own power while holding a towel to his face. The 38-year-old was transported to a local hospital in Fort Myers and was replaced at first base by Kavadas.
Alfaro and Tapia combined to go 5-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored in Monday’s contest, which took two hours and 31 minutes to complete. The two non-roster invitees are hitting .700 (7-for-10) and .412 (7-for-17) this spring, respectively.
Next up: Houck looks to rebound
The Red Sox will travel to North Port to take on the Braves at CoolToday Park on Tuesday evening. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston while left-hander Jared Shuster will take the mound for Atlanta.
First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)