The Boston Red Sox started Rick Porcello on the mound against the Minnesota Twins in spring training action. Porcello didn’t give up the game in the first, so that’s something.
It could have been worse; it could have been 9-0 for the home-team Twins in CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Porcello’s first action in spring training against opposing bats not of the Red Sox variety went well. Even after giving up a double to start the game to Brian Dozier, his defense bailed him out by throwing him out at third on the play. Red Sox right fielder Bryce Bentz made a hard throw to third baseman Travis Shaw who applied the tag. Two flyouts later and Porcello was out of the inning.
It was the same in the second inning, as Porcello gave up a double to Miguel Sano, but this time he could not escape unscathed. After a groundout, Byung Ho Park singled on a liner to right field that scored Sano. A forceout and a pop out later, and that’s all the Twins could mount against Porcello.
The Red Sox then came to life in the fourth inning, mounting a three-run comeback. Brennan Boesch opened the scoring for Boston when he doubled to score Shaw off of Ricky Nolasco. Ryan Hanigan, fighting for the backup catcher role, helped his cause with a groundout that scored Bentz from third base. Even Allen Craig, fighting just to get a sniff at regular season play, helped his own cause by slapping a single to center field, scoring Boesch and giving the Red Sox an insurance run.
The lead didn’t last long, however.
With Williams Jerez on the mound for the Red Sox in the sixth inning, Twins’ Danny Santana cranked a home run over the left-field fence, scoring two runs including Carlos Quentin on the play.
Quentin returned the favor by singling in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Heiker Meneses, off of Pat Light. Santana answered his teammate by raising him a sacrifice fly to left, which scored Ryan Sweeney. The Twins were up 5-3.
But all was not lost for the Red Sox.
In the top of the eighth, Marco Hernandez made a name for himself by doubling on a liner to right field, which scored Josh Rutledge off of Taylor Rogers. Rainel Rosario did the same on a single drilled to right field, cashing in Hernandez.
The Twins didn’t match that comeback. However, it’s not from a lack of trying by Red Sox reliever William Cuevas. After a single, a sac bunt, and a walk, Cuevas was feeling the Florida heat. He then plunked Quentin as his response to it. Mercifully, two forceouts got him out of the ninth inning, giving him the save and the Red Sox the victory, 6-5.
- Light took the victory, even though he gave up two runs in the battle. Neither were earned, however.
- Shaw continued to hit well, having filled the three-spot in the lineup. He had two hits and a walk in three plate appearances, scoring a run for the Red Sox.
- Rusney Castillo, in the 2-hole, was blanked 0-for-3 at the plate. This is only one game, but still not encouraging considering a lot is riding on whether he starts hot with his bat or not, this season.
- He shouldn’t feel too bad though, as Brock Holt did exactly the same.
- The Red Sox were 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left five on base. The Twins were worse, going 2-for-10 and leaving nine men on base.
Porcello gave up a run. However, it’s not like everyone is blanking the bats with incredible efficiency in spring training. Ian Browne of MLB.com reported, “Porcello’s goal for his first Grapefruit League start Thursday […] was simple: Establish his fastball.” Browne also stated that Porcello “threw all fastballs except for, as he quipped, ‘one 40-foot changeup.’ He gave up three hits and a run, but the stats don’t matter to him right now as much as the process.” If he can continue to establish his fastball, maybe he can get more groundouts than getting pounded for home runs. He gave up 25 homers last season, the most that he’s ever allowed. Hopefully the process that he speaks of will ring true for a more consistent season as well as his fastball.
This game was not one where a clear winner could be picked. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Kyle Martin, and Cuevas were able to keep the Twins off of the scoreboard, but Light had a fielding error by Hernandez responsible for his error. Jerez was the only real victim, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. The bullpen gave up four of the Twins’ five runs, but the majority of the arms were not responsible.
Hernandez gets the share of the award by default, being the only Boston slugger to score two RBIs. However, he did it on only one hit in one plate appearance. Shaw, the man replaced by Hernandez, was the only player to post two hits in the game, whether a prospect or a veteran. Not many of the innings had a ton of pressure put on the opposing pitchers, making it very difficult to find any real hope, other than Porcello’s pitching, to pull out of this game for the Red Sox coaching staff.