The Boston Red Sox found themselves tonight out of the winner’s circle, beaten by their arch rivals, the New York Yankees, 5-3. However, as with most spring training games, the story was more about how it started than how it ended.
Rick Porcello took the mound, against Yankees starter Adam Warren, on what was a beautiful 81 degrees, in front of just over 9 600 fans at JetBlue Park, in Fort Myers, Florida. It seemed like smooth sailing for the newly-acquired starter, trying to make a name for himself amongst Red Sox Nation. That is, until the fourth inning.
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Ian Browne of
reported Porcello’s thoughts on tonight’s performance: “The second inning I was rushing out a little bit, I got a little quick. That two-out walk really bothered me. I was able to come back in the third and have a good inning. I felt good. The consistency obviously is not where I want it right now. I made some good pitches and some other pitches I tried to force a little bit. I just need to keep working through that stuff.”
Yet, it was only in the fourth that Porcello’s consistency issues came back to bite the Red Sox. He was not able to record an out between the first two batters he faced in the inning. Both Yankee hits, by Garrett Jones and Brian McCann, were on the first pitch of the at-bats. After Dalier Hinojosa came in to relieve Porcello, two strikeouts bookended a single by Rob Refsnyder and a triple by Jonathan Galvez, which cashed in three runs.
Porcello finished his night with two earned runs on three hits, three strikeouts and a walk.
Mar 13, 2015; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielderMookie Betts
(50) doubles during the third inning against the New York Yankees at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
With a lineup which featured many of the Red Sox projected starters for the regular season, youngster Mookie Betts took the prize as the most impressive Boston bat. He went 2-for-3 , while crossing the plate twice to help what turned out to be an unsuccessful comeback.
It was never supposed to be a comeback, if you watched the first few innings. In fact, the Red Sox opened the scoring. Hanley picked up an RBI by scoring Betts in the bottom of the first inning. David Ortiz then increased the lead when he singled a line drive to, again, score Betts in the bottom of the third inning.
However, the fourth inning issues erased that hard work and replaced it with insurance runs for the Yankees. Mason Williams hit a ground-ruled double off of Red Sox reliever Edward Mujica to score Galvez and Aaron Judge in the top of the seventh inning.
A late ground out in the bottom of the same inning by Jeff Bianchi scored Travis Shaw, whom also had a good outing with two hits. That was as close as the hope of a comeback would arrive, as the Yankees took the victory by two runs. The Yankees starter took the victory, even if only for the fact that he outlasted Porcello, while Hinojosa accepted the loss.
By his own admission, Porcello did not dominate. Who really dominates in spring training, anyways? Maybe nobody. It still does not change the fact that his performance may add fuel to the already-blazing fire that the Red Sox still like an ace for their lineup. When you have no ace, you better have a full house of consistency. For Porcello, that proof better be found before April unfolds.
For Betts, between his play at the plate and the flashing glove that he wields in center field, including an incredible diving catch tonight, manager John Farrell will have a tough time justifying keeping him on the bench. Ricky Doyle of NESN tweets his comment about how the game went for securing a place in the starting lineup:
Too early for ’nuff said’, but you get the idea pretty quickly. There continues to be something special about Betts that you don’t want to miss. The Ides of March may be on some people who assumed other players would be ahead of Betts at this point. March Madness has started early, and its name is Mookie Betts. Stay tuned.
*All statistics used were from MLB.com