Red Sox use balanced attack to beat O’s 8-7

Sep 24, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) comes off the field during the fourth inning of a gfame against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) comes off the field during the fourth inning of a gfame against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Red Sox, behind a relentless 14 hit attack and middle inning relief excellence, held on today to beat the Orioles, 8-7

In Fort Myers, Florida today, the Red Sox took on the Baltimore Orioles at 1:05.  The starting matchup was Mike Wright (3-5, 6.04 in nine starts in 2015) for Baltimore and Clay Buchholz (7-7, 3.26 in 18 starts) for Boston.   Wright, a six foot six inch right hander out of East Carolina is looking to regain the form that got him to the majors last season in a sparkling 14 start run in AAA which saw him go 9-1 with a 2.22 ERA.  Buchholz, was on a five start run of 34.1 innings, four earned runs allowed (1.05 ERA) when he went down for the season just before the All-Star break in 2015.

Buchholz didn’t get much help from his defense.  In the first inning, after a walk, Xander Bogaerts could not handle a slow bouncer up the middle, bobbling the ball for an errorl.  After a double steal put runners at second and third, first baseman Christian Walker, veteran of 33 major league days, laced a two run double to left field.  L.J Hoes followed with a ground single to left field to run the score to 3-0.  The Red Sox looked as if they might get those runs back when Bogaerts led off the bottom of the first with a double to left.  A big inning was not to be as Dustin Pedroia followed with a groundout and David Ortiz with a strikeout.  Hanley Ramirez plated a run with his own double to left to make it 3-1., but nothing further was pushed across.

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The second inning was no easier for Buchholz who walked a hitter with one out.  Rookie Joey Rickard hit a lazy fly to left but left fielder David Murphy and centerfielder Chris Young let the ball drop in for a cheap hit.  Buchholz’ third walk of the day put an end to his day with the bases loaded and one out.  Jorge Marban was summoned to control the damage but walked Ryan Flaherty with the bases loaded to push the score to 4-1.  Marban was able to escape further trouble with a pop-out and strikeout.

The Red Sox continued to chip away at the deficit in the second inning.  David Murphy reached base on a seeing eye single to deep short.  With one out Rusney Castillo launched a double off the left field wall to score Murphy all the way from first to make the score 4-2

Carson Smith, acquired from Seattle with great fanfare, made his Spring debut.  Hoes reached second base on a fly to right field that Rusney Castillo could not handle in the right field corner, for an error.  Smith came back with a groundout sandwiched between two strikeouts to post a scoreless frame.

The Red Sox were happy to see Orioles lefthander T.J. McFarland.  Young reached on a four pitch walk.  Castillo singled to right field.  Runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.  A shallow fly to left could not score a run, but Bogaerts bounced a single to left field to make the score 4-3.  Sean Coyle hit for Pedroia and struck out into a double play.  Marco Hernandez, pinch running for Bogaerts, was thrown out stealing by a wide margin to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Travis Shaw singled to right field and Sam Travis followed with a hard single to center to send Shaw to third.  Chris Dominguez hit a slow roller to deep third to score the run, beating out a single when third baseman Steve Tolleson decided to throw to first too late to get him.  A walk with one out to Young loaded the bases but Castillo grounded in to an inning ending double play to keep the score tied at 4.

Backup catcher Ali Solis led off the sixth with a walk.  Hernandez followed with a double just inside the first base bag to send Solis to third with nobody out.  Coyle isn’t helping his case to stay on the 40 man roster with another strikeout for the first out.  Shaw hit a backspin groundball to second base to score the run to make it 5-4, and reached as the infielders collided and the ball squirted away.  Travis followed with a long fly to center field to score Hernandez, to make the score 6-4.

Edwin Escobar allowed a run on a double and two productive outs to no one you ever heard of, to cut the deficit to 6-5.  The Red Sox pushed their lead back up to 8-5 in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Shaw and a second sacrifice fly by Travis.  Highly touted fireballer Pat Light tried to finish the last two innings of the game but could not get the last out as sub right fielder Henry Ramos lost a ball in the sun to allow a two run single to close the gap to 8-7.  Light was nearing 40 pitches as AA pitcher Mike McCarthy came in to secure the last out and save the 8-7 victory for Boston.

Game Notes:

  • The first spot in the Red Sox lineup reached base all five plate appearances with three hits and two walks from Bogaerts and Hernandez
  • Hernandez showed some inexperience when he was thrown out in a caught stealing by a wide margin instead of stopping in the middle of the basepath so he could let the runner at third score instead of making the third out before the run scored.
  • Red Sox pitchers struck out 13 Orioles on the day
  • The fourth spot in the lineup between Hanley Ramirez and Travis was not officially retired either for Boston with three hits and two sacrifice flies

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C-. . Game Ball Clay Buchholz. . STARTING PITCHING

In fairness, Buchholz did not get much help from a tight strike zone by home plate ump Brian O’Nora which contributed to his three walks.  The defense lost him two outs while he was in there.  This is his first outing of the Spring and at this point the Red Sox are most concerned with his getting his work in.   He wasn’t sharp by any means but on March 6, it is not cause for any anxiety.

RELIEF PITCHING . C. . Game Ball Heath Hembree.

Hembree allowed a double that Murphy misjudged in the wind and might have had a play on against the wall.  Hembree walked one and struck out four, including the side in his second inning of work.  For his two effective innings, Hembree is the easy winner of this award today.  Smith and Barnes were also very good in their innings of work, each striking out two  batters. Light ran out of gas in the end making the end of the game more dramatic than it needed to be, allowing five hits in 1.2 innings.

A. . Game Ball Xander Bogaerts and Travis Shaw. . HITTING

Bogaerts reached base in all three of his plate appearances today.  He singled, doubled and walked in his four innings of play.  Shaw laced three hits on the day, though he entered in the middle of the game as a sub.  Castillo had two hits as well and Travis drove in two runs with sacrifice flies.  The Red Sox had men on throughout the game which should have been a blowout but they were just five for 18 with runners in scoring position.