Boston Red Sox sting Rays, 7-2

Sep 30, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) hits a sacrifice bunt against the New York Yankees during the eleventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) hits a sacrifice bunt against the New York Yankees during the eleventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox had some consistent pitching, a Jackie Bradley home run and some late game scoring to beat the Rays.

Spring training contests are similar to a feel-good soccer league where scores – at least on a board – have little relevancy The ST games generally focus on position battles, a rising or falling star, players destined for the minors and just who appears to actually present some value when the real action starts. Today against the Tampa Bay Rays was no exception as the Red Sox won 7-2 behind a Jackie Bradley home run, some late-game fireworks by what could be the heart of the Pawtucket Red Sox lineup and some excellent pitching performances.

The Red Sox and Rays both sent potential Cy Young Award winners to the hill with the Rays Chris Archer as a legitimate possibility while Boston’s Joe Kelly a faux possibility returning after a sparkling late season 2015 surge and an arm injury and in contention for a last man standing in the rotation. Both squads presented a very close approximation to a regular season expected lineup – at least for the beginning innings.

The first frame was an uneventful exercise for both clubs with the highlight – if spring games do have them – the first at-bat of the season for David Ortiz which resulted in a routine pop-up.

Kelly managed to create a mini situation in the top of the second with a lead-off single to Logan Morrison and a four-pitch two-out walk to Taylor Motter. Kelly then finished off any threat with a strikeout of catcher Hank Conger. For Archer, it was breeze time as the only baserunners were a Xander Bogaerts hit by a pitch in the first and Pablo Sandoval reaching on fellow third sacker Evan Longoria‘s error in the second.

With Archer sent on his way after two impressive innings the Rays went to their bullpen for Kyle McPherson, a 28-year-old attempting to make the Rays, and McPherson was immediately greeted with a Jackie Bradley home run to right center and a Red Sox 1-0 lead as McPherson retired the next three. McPherson was given another inning and put the Sox away 1-2-3.

Craig Kimbrel followed Junichi Tazawa ( 1 IP, K,) to the mound and the pesky Rays quickly tied the game on a James Loney (remember him?) double and a run-scoring error by Bogaerts. Kimbrel then finished off the overmatched Motter with some strikeout heat. At the half-way mark, both teams were starting to shift players into the line-up in typical early spring training action.

The sixth inning saw the Rays take the lead against the Red Sox and right-hander Roman Mendez. Mendez gave up singles to Dayron Varona and Morrison and up stepped Loney with two outs. A double was the end result of the Loney-Mendez encounter and the Rays had a lead of 2-1, but that, alas would be but temporary with the Red Sox putting three on the board in the sixth and seventh as Pawtucket would make it presence felt.

Deven Marrero started the runs parade with a walk and slick fielding first baseman, Hanley Ramirez, followed with a single to short. Singles by a hot-hitting Marco Hernandez, Forrestt Allday and catcher Ali Solis brought in three runs. The eighth feature an RBI single by Marrero and a two-run double by highly ranked prospect Sam Travis and it was essential over at 7-2.

Next: Red Sox Recap: Rick Porcello Throwing A Bit Of Hope

Game Notes:
* Kelly did not record a ground ball out.
* Game time it was light snow in Boston and 75 degrees at Jet Blue Park.
* Blake Swihart was overmatched on a three pitch punch-out in the second.
* A nice 6-10 RISP.
* Hernandez was the PTBNL in the trade of Felix Doubront.
* Ramirez was error-free at first.

B. . Game Ball. Joe Kelly. STARTING PITCHING

Two innings and two hits. A walk and one strikeout for Kelly. Nothing exciting and nothing depressing. Early reports are his arm did not fall off.

A-. . Game Ball. Junichi Tazawa. RELIEF PITCHING

Tazawa (1 ip, K), Kimbrel (1 IP, H, R, 0 ER, K),

Noe Ramirez

(1 IP, H, K), Mendez (2 IP, 4 H, R, BB),

Robby Scott

(1 IP, H, K, BB),

Luis Ysla

(1 IP, K). Tazawa showed what may be a preview of how he could be used by setting up Kimbrel. The rest of the pitching is probably destined for Pawtucket.

B+. . Game Ball. Sam Travis. OFFENSE

This could go to the contingent that could well be your Pawtucket Red Sox. Marrero had a hit, RBI and two runs, Travis a two-run double, Hernandez another hit and Solis an RBI.