Feb 21, 2014; Ft Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first basemanMike Napoli
(12) during spring training at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Today, the Red Sox picked up their first win of the spring in an 8-6 slugfest against the Baltimore Orioles. After being offensively stymied in their first two games, the Red Sox (playing their #1 lineup) finally saw the bats get some quality work against an array of Orioles’ minor league pitchers. On the pitching side, the Red Sox also had a relatively good day apart from a ninth-inning meltdown by Keith Couch and Jeremy Kehrt, getting some good innings from Felix Doubront and Edward Mujica.
Doubront has been lauded this spring for coming into camp in such great shape and all of his offseason conditioning showed in his spring debut today. The 26-year old southpaw got off to a strong start, firing strikes in 18 of his 24 pitches across his two innings of work. Overall, Doubront allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out three and walking none in his spring debut.
Another intriguing pitcher in Edward Mujica came into the game following Doubront. Mujica made quick work of the Orioles, shutting them down with a 1-2-3 inning on just 10 pitches. After Mujica, the pitching lineup got a bit dicey with Alex Wilson headlining a group consisting of Tommy Layne, Miguel Celestino, Noe Ramirez, and Miguel Pena. However, all of those arms were solid until the shaky ninth inning from Couch and Kehrt.
Offensively, it took a bit of time for the bats to get going. However, it all began to roll after Orioles’ prospect Eduardo Rodriguez came into the game for the fourth inning. David Ortiz led off the inning by working a walk and then the power display came from Mike Napoli, who crushed a fastball to dead center for a two-run home run that kicked off the scoring for the Red Sox.
Rodriguez finished the next three batters, but remained in the game for the fifth, when the Red Sox continued to do damage. Jackie Bradley Jr. started the inning with an opposite-field double off the green monster and then came in to score when Bryce Brentz drove a liner up the middle for an RBI single. Brentz moved to second base on a single by Jonny Gomes and then up to third and finally home on productive outs by Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
The Red Sox picked up another run in the fifth when Xander Bogaerts, who had reached base on a double into the right-center gap, scored on a single by Jackie Bradley Jr. but the bats were largely silent until the eighth. The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and a single and picked up a single run when Brandon Snyder hit a grounder up the middle which deflected off pitcher T.J. McFarland‘s foot for a single, but the Red Sox bats weren’t done. Despite the lefty-on-lefty matchup, Travis Shaw— the next batter– rifled an inside fastball to the opposite field for a two-run double which put the Red Sox up 8-1 at the time.
The lead seemed safe, but the Red Sox brought Keith Couch in for the ninth inning and he made sure that the lead was anything but that. Couch allowed the Orioles to pick up a run after a double and single by Xavier Paul and Buck Britton to lead off the inning. The Orioles proceeded to lead the bases with Couch only inducing one out, and Couch was removed in favor of Jeremy Kehrt. Jonathan Schoop led off against Kehrt and promptly crushed a double to left field to bring in two more runs. The O’s proceeded to push two more runs across the plate in the inning and cut it to 8-6, but eventually the Red Sox were able to stop the bleeding.
Though the game ended a bit precariously, it was a solid performance by the Red Sox overall. The Red Sox got quality performances from the two pitchers likely to make the 25-man roster and also got a number of solid offensive performances. Mike Napoli had the best game of all– going 1-3 with the two-run homer– but several other players joined in the action as the Red Sox collected good games from Xander Bogaerts (2-3 with a run and a double), Jackie Bradley Jr. (2-3 with a run, an RBI, and a double), Bryce Brentz (1-3 with a run and an RBI), and Travis Shaw (1-2 with a two-run double). The Red Sox will look to keep the good times rolling at 1:05 tomorrow when the Red Sox send Brandon Workman to the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates.