The Boston Red Sox must have been happy to see Justin Masterson pitch so well, in the first two innings of yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins. Unfortunately, that happiness faded once others took the mound at JetBlue Field in Fort Myers, Florida.
It only took Masterson twelve pitches, seven strikes and five balls, to complete two innings of work. He gave up only a hit, a walk, and an unearned run from a throwing error by shortstop Brock Holt. Jordany Valdespin reached first and then scored on a fielder’s choice off of Michael Morse‘s grounder. In fact, five out of the six outs were imposed upon the Marlins through ground balls. No strikeouts, but Masterson did not need any.
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Red Sox Nation then saw something that is not see very often:Koji Uehara
on the mound to start the top of the third inning. It must have felt strange to Uehara as well, since he only threw six pitches, all strikes, that served for three hits. Five out of six Marlin batters bashed the ball into the outfield, including two doubles, and even the sixth popped out to second base. No strikeouts or grounders.Jeff Mathis
scored on Morse’s double to center field, to regain the one-run advantage.
Even though Uehara did get out of the inning, he was hit hard enough to spell time for Henry Owens to relieve him at the top of the fourth inning. The 6’6″ lefty had a good inning, blanking the Marlins, with Don Kelly and Miguel Rojas falling victim to Owens’ strikeout skills. But, while Cecchini came through again in the bottom of the inning, putting the ball in play to score Shane Victorino, Owens was not able to hold the tie for the Red Sox. He was much more touchable in the top of the fifth inning, as Valdespin tripled to score Mathis and had the favor returned when Marcell Ozuna brought him home on a sacrifice fly to center. Owens finished his two innings with two earned runs on three hits, a walk, and two strikeouts. Not terrible, but not as dominating as his start to the fourth.
The Red Sox did get one more run back, from a ground-ruled double by Hanley Ramirez that scored Holt, in the bottom of the fifth. Yet, the comeback was not to be, as the Marlins scored an insurance run in the eighth inning off of reliever Robbie Ross to seal the win. After an exciting play at the plate, which saw Boston’s relay throw gun out Marlins’ Scott Sizemore, Reed Johnson singled past the substituted shortstop Deven Marrero to score Tyler Colvin from third.
The Red Sox bats seemed cold when the game was on the line, as they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The team struck out seven times, walking only twice. Two of the Red Sox runs were produced by a player who is more than likely going to be starting April in the minor system. Even without a potent lineup, considering it is spring training, some ugly swings from the veterans led to a number of strikeouts. The Red Sox will look to have a better showing at the plate in their next game, even with their six hits to their credit.
Now, spring training can be pretty crazy, and statistics are pretty pointless at this time of year. Yet, it was a good sign that Masterson was able to keep the ball low in the strikezone like he did many years before, to great success. Masterson said, “I was the ace today — I will not be the ace tomorrow, someone else will be the ace,” according to Michael Silverman of BostonHerald.com. “You’re not really overly caring about results until we’re a few games away from go time. Continue to up the ante, make sure that yeah, I might overthrow a few, but I’ve got to make sure the arm’s working through.”
That is a very good attitude to have at this point. Yes, some Red Sox pitchers got hit around the ballpark. Yes, the bats did not come through when it counted. That’s what spring training is all about: working out the kinks in the armor. As long as those swings get worked out as well, the next few games should tell a different story.