The Boston Red Sox had another lead in a spring training game that was eventually squandered by their bullpen, again.
Today’s game was at Roger Dean Stadium, in Jupiter, Florida, home to the Miami Marlins, before the regular season starts in April. It was partly cloudy, around 78 degrees, with an 8 mph wind from left to right, for just over 6 600 fans to watch the fortunes of both teams change at each end of the game.
Both pitchers did well to blank each lineup for the first two innings, except for Koehler plunking Hanley Ramirez. Johnson even struck out the first two batters he faced.
After Boston’s right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to lead off the top of the third inning, a terrible attempt by Koehler to pick him off led to a throwing error which moved the runner to second. Top Red Sox catching prospect Blake Swihart continued the damage by hitting a ground-ruled double to left field, scoring Bradley to take the lead.
In the bottom of the third inning, Marlins veteran Reed Johnson tried to answer, by singling to right field, which scored Adeiny Hechavarria. But, that was as much as the Marlins could scratch back from the Red Sox.
Mar 24, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) rounds third base and scores a run against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Lefty prospect pitcher Henry Owens came into the seventh inning in relief, making quick work of the Marlins, as all three batters swung and hit flyouts. Owens looked to regain his form that made him the stud Red Sox execs thought he was, to win a spot in the bullpen.
That is, until the horrendous eighth inning.
After loading the bases with Marlins, chomping at the bit to get back in the game, Owens gave up a double to Jeff Baker, which scored Jhonatan Solano and Hechavarria to shrink the Red Sox lead to one run. Then, Jordany Valdespin tripled to right field, scoring Scott Sizemore and Baker, to allow the Marlins their first lead of the game.
The Marlins didn’t stop punishing Owens, either. Or was it the Red Sox managers punishing him by not giving him the hook quick enough? Cole Gillespie hit a line drive to left field, which cashed in Valdespin and, finally, knocked Owens out of the game.
His relief in Dana Eveland didn’t quell the Marlin bats, either. Solano doubled to cash in his fellow Solano, Donovan, and Hechavarria, who already batting in the inning, singled to score Jhonatan. The Marlins put up eight runs in the eighth inning and never relinquished the lead.
Final score: Red Sox 4 – Marlins 9.
- Former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Bradley stealing second base in the seventh inning. Bradley’s aggression and speed on the base paths has yet to help him steal a base, this spring. Offensively, Bradley went 3-for-4 at the plate, with 1 strikeout, continuing his improving success at the plate.
- Johnson had 5 strikeouts, but also gave up 3 walks. He only gave up 1 earned run on 1 hit, in 3.2 innings of work.
- The loss was Owens’ third so far this spring. As much as statistics are not supposedly important at this point, an 8.74 ERA in 10 innings is hardly dominating stuff.
Not too shabby, keeping the Marlins to just one hit and one run. The strikeouts were great to see from the former Portland Sea Dogs starting pitcher, who earned a 10-2 record and a 1.75 ERA last season. In 118 innings, Johnson struck out 99 to walking only 32 opposing bats. To stick around with the big club though, he can’t have as many walks as he pitches innings, like he did today. It gave the Marlins the advantage, with potential to score more easily, each time he took the mound.
While Robbie Ross Jr. and Matt Barnes each threw a full inning and held the Marlins off of the hit total, Owens came apart at the seams. He allowed the Marlins to come back into a game that they had no business winning for the first seven innings. In only 1.1 innings of work, Owens had a final line of 4 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), and a walk. Owens did not have a strikeout while on the bump. Even Eveland couldn’t do much, as he gave up 2 earned runs on 3 hits, in only 0.2 innings. Considering many of the Marlins’ usual starters were on the bench during this onslaught, it does not bode well that the bullpen could not hold the bats at bay.
When you get 3 RBIs, nobody cares too much that you only had 1 hit, like Craig did, today. It doesn’t have to be pretty as long as the runs come in bunches. The problem for the Red Sox was that there was only one bunch in the run bouquet, early in the ballgame. Out of the 7 Red Sox hits, 3 of them came from one player, who only hit .198 last season. Bradley’s better performance at the plate this spring could be his best chance to stay with Boston, even if it means their Triple-A team for the foreseeable future, unless another team decides to make a trade offer. Check out details about the possibilities for Bradley’s future in today’sMornin’ Chowda
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