Webster, Britton struggle as Red Sox fall 8-4 to Rays


Mar 16, 2014; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher

Allen Webster

(64) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the Red Sox enter the second half of spring, we will likely see a greater portion of the playing time go to either major league regulars or players competing for roster spots. Today fell into the latter camp. Almost all of the pitchers and nearly the entire lineup in today’s ballgame were players that we’ll likely see in 2014, but not for extended periods. It’s always good to see these borderline major leaguers succeed; unfortunately, that’s far from what happened today.

Today’s starting pitcher was Allen Webster, the Red Sox #7 prospect, according to SoxProspects, who is on the bubble of a major league spot. Webster remained consistent with what he has been for most of this spring: maddeningly inconsistent. He pitched to a shaky first, where he allowed a run; a lights-out second; a shaky third, where he allowed another solo run; a lights-out fourth; and then walked the first batter in the fifth, setting up a big inning for the Rays’ offense.

Drake Britton came into the game and was promptly rocked. Britton allowed a single to David DeJesus, which would set up a first and second situation for Ben Zobrist. Zobrist singled to score a run, and then both he and DeJesus raced across home plate just two batters later on a double by James Loney, putting the Rays on top 5-0.

Britton remained in the ballgame for the sixth inning and continued to struggle, allowing three more runs and concluding his day after allowing five runs on six hits and two walks in 1.2 innings pitched. On the bright side, the Red Sox’ pitching was solid for the rest of the day as Brayan Villarreal, Francisco Cordero, and Jose Mijares shut out the Rays for the rest of the day.

All the while, the Red Sox offense had been held in check by Rays’ ace David Price. However, after allowing just two hits through the first six innings, Price began to falter in the seventh. Price allowed the Red Sox to put two batters on base– a Mike Carp single and Corey Brown walk– before handing the ball over to Heath Bell for the rest of the inning. Bell struggled in his limited time, allowing both base-runners to score– first on an RBI single by Ryan Lavarnway and then on an RBI double by Brock Holt.

Rays’ reliever Mark Lowe set the Red Sox down 1-2-3 in the eighth inning, but the bats were back for more in the ninth. The Red Sox picked up a single run when Deven Marrero continued his strong spring (Marrero is slashing .333/.461/.571 this spring) with a one out home run to left field. That rally continued on back-to-back doubles by Ryan Lavarnway and Sean Coyle, cutting the Rays’ lead to 8-4. However, that would be all the Red Sox could muster. Ryan Dent grounded out to end the ballgame and put a finish on a game hampered by poor pitching performances.