The Boston Red Sox were in split-squad action, today, hosting the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. In front of over 9 800 fans, with a gusty 10 mph from left to right field, the Red Sox started righty Steven Wright on the mound. The Blue Jays countered with their newly-promoted ace, Drew Hutchison. Both pitched three innings, but the outcome became more separated as the bullpens took over.
As quickly as the game started, the Blue Jays drew first blood. Third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a ground-ruled double to left, cashing in today’s designated hitter Russell Martin and right fielder Jose Bautista. First baseman Edwin Encarnacion added his own Blue Jays bash in the top of the third inning, as he cranked a solo home run over the left field fence. Wright’s ERA for the day was capped off with Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis smashing a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring catcher Dioner Navarro, who was only on base from a passed ball charged to Red Sox catcher Humberto Quintero.
After a fielder’s choice and a walk, Wright’s day ended, still in the same inning. He finished with 4 runs, 3 earned, on 4 hits in 3.2 innings of work, before being relieved by righty Noe Ramirez. Wright matched his strikeout total with walking 4 batters.
In the meantime, Hutchison kept the Red Sox at bay. He made quick work, walking one batter while striking out another in three scoreless and hitless innings. Once completed, Hutchison made way for Marco Estrada in relief.
That’s when the Red Sox stepped up to do some damage of their own.
With one out, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Allen Craig smashed a hit to right field, which turned into an inside-the-park home run:
Granted, the less-than-speedy Craig only made it around the bases because of the odd carom off the fence and Bautista’s slip as he picked up the ball, but he did it.
The Red Sox must have felt that right field needed to be peppered more, in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Jeff Bianchi doubled in the same direction off of Blue Jays young reliever Roberto Osuna. The effort cleared the bases, scoring Blake Tekotte, Javier Guerra, and Mike Miller to tie the game.
Apr 1, 2015; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcherSteven Wright
(65) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
As if the Jays were angered by the Red Sox picking on their once-prospect-now-big-leaguer, they took revenge in the top of the seventh inning. With Dalier Hinojosa pitching, Justin Smoak smoked a double to center to score D.J. Davis. Navarro continued the onslaught with a single that scored Smoak, and David Harris cashed in Danny Valencia on a sac fly.
And, if Craig’s homer was not enough disbelief for you, Ryan Goins, the man who hit only .188, with a .271 slugging percentage last season for the Blue Jays, hit a home run over the right field wall in the eighth inning. Poor Robby Scott had that and Valencia’s ground-ruled double, that scored Steve Tolleson, as his distinction of merit for the Red Sox.
While Boston still had life in them in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings, scoring twice, it was not enough. Matt Spring‘s two-run double and Tekotte’s RBI-single could only bring the margin within two: Blue Jays 9 – Red Sox 7.
- Wright did not take the loss. Coming into today’s game, his spring training record was 3-0, with 9 strikeouts and a 1.32 ERA.
- Hinojosa picked up the loss, giving up 5 hits, 3 earned runs, while trading a walk for a strikeout in 2 innings.
- Mookie Betts got another hit for the Red Sox (1-for-3), starting in center field, bringing his batting average to .458 for the spring session.
- Craig was able to finally raise his batting average to .244 in 45 at-bats.
He faced one of the best batting lineups in baseball, with the potential to be the hottest and most explosive in the game. There is no real break from the leadoffJose Reyes
to at least the six-spot. Between Martin, Bautista, Encarnacion, Donaldson, and Navarro, you are looking at All-Stars at each position. So, when Wright only gives up three earned runs, that can be considered decent. Yet, with the passed ball, four runs were scored in less than four full innings of work. You have to try to hold the bats for at least a little while; a run an inning will not help keep a bullpen protected in the regular season.
The grade for Wright could have applied to Hinojosa, except that he gave up more than a run for an inning of work. Hinojosa even gave up an extra hit in less time than Wright. The reliever is supposed to stem the tide, not ride it. For spring training, Hinojosa has pitched 6.1 innings to amass 10 strikeouts, but has a 5.68 ERA and a loss on his record to show for it. That’s not going to cut it in the regular season, especially since some of those heavy-hitting bats Wright faced had been substituted when Hinojosa took over.
It’s hard to give less of a grade when a team scores seven runs. However, the way it happened was partially due to blind luck and partially due to youthful arms to pick on at the plate in the later innings. Craig gets the game ball, not because of any dominant performance, but because he got those legs moving. He might have only made it to second or third base if he didn’t push himself. How could you give the game ball to anyone else, after he hauled his butt around so not-as-slowly-as-usual? Call it pity, call it funny, call it a divine hand, if you must, but Craig deserves something for the effort. Bianchi deserves an honorable mention, clearing the basepaths, but nobody got more than one hit off of the Blue Jays, today.
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