The Rays, longtime Red Sox rivals in the AL East, are a radically different team with departures of players, free agents, GM and, of course, the departure of manager Joe Maddon. The Rays have a way – usually with pitching – to keep in the AL East picture as a contender or spoiler.
The Red Sox used high end prospect Brian Johnson for their starter. For Johnson it was his second start of the spring and after a shaky two innings Johnson redeemed himself with two reasonably impressive innings.
For the Rays it was designated bullpen day for the visitors as they went with Brad Boxberger, an eighth inning set-up in 2014, to start the game and Boxberger was followed by a conga line of relievers. The mixed bag had mixed results.
A walk to Steven Souza to lead off the game and a two out single by Evan Longoria netted a run for the Rays in the first inning. The Rays managed another run in the second on two pop singles and an RBI line shot to right field by Rene Rivera.
The Red Sox, being gracious hosts, went meekly in the first two frames with the only base runner being Mike Napoli on a four pitch walk. Tampa Bay held a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth the Red Sox got to the Rays fourth bullpen tosser, Jordan Norberto, with back-to-back doubles by Pablo Sandoval and Napoli. Under normal meteorological circumstances the result would have been home runs, but a crisp left to right wind knocked both down. The tally after four was 2-1. The Red Sox now went to their bullpen with Dalier Hinojosa coming in for the fifth.
A bit of noise was raised by Boston in the seventh.
Xander Bogaerts rammed a Kirby Yates breaking ball into left for a lead-off single. With one out Jackie Bradley pumped a single to right and a Daniel Nava infield hit loaded the bases with two outs. The potential rally was doused by a Quintin Berry fly out. In the last of the eighth things got ugly for the Rays.
Castillo tapped a ball back to the mound and when the double error dust settled Castillo was planted on third with no outs. Castillo scored the tying run on a Marrero bounce out to first on a ball that the Rays first sacker Alexander Simon failed to freeze the runner on. Mental and physical errors gave the Red Sox a run. The penalty for slopping play is extra innings where the Rays were cut down by Castillo.
In the top of the tenth, with runners on the corners, a shallow fly resulted in a sliding Castillo catch and pop-up toss to home for the out. A star of the game defensive award for Rusney. Rusney was not done for the day as he teamed with Marrero for the game winning run.
Castillo led off the last of the tenth with a single and ended up on third after a passed ball and sac fly combo. Up came Marerro with two outs and the resulting wall ball rescued Castillo and sent the Rays back home.
* Shane Victorino managed a rare force out at second when a pop fly fell in front of him and a quick flip to second got the force.
* Brad Boxberger’s father, Rod, was voted The Most Outstanding Player of the 1978 College World Series.
* James Loney, a former Red Sox, got his 1,000 MLB hit against Boston in 2013.
* Bogaerts now has more walks (7) than strikeouts (5) for this spring.
Johnson had a rough beginning and the weather did have some impact on his line. Johnson went four innings, allowing six hits and a string of two’s: runs, walks and K’s – all two. Johnson has been the most effective of the triumvirate of left-handed prospects in camp and all will, unless injuries surface, start at Pawtucket.
Hinojosa had a comfortable two innings allowing a hit, one walk and striking out three. Hinojosa had a rough spring until this outing and dropped his spring training ERA to 5.68. Edward Mujica, closer in waiting, pitched the seventh allowing one hit and no runs. Tommy Layne continued his quest for a roster slot with a another solid inning in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa and Jess Todd, who got the win, finished up for Boston.
Game winning hit gets the game ball. The real figure is 12 LOB and nine hits. Castillo gets props for his late game effort with an outstanding defensive play and scoring two runs.
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