Boston Red Sox fall in ten to Tampa, 3-2

Mar 7, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Red Sox had impressive pitching and some dismal defense and hitting in an extra-inning loss to Tampa.

Facing the Rays is never easy and spring training offers a tantalizing insight into just how the pesky Rays will be during 2016 with a ten inning 3-2 win by Tampa.

Today at Jet Blue Park between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays it was the tale of two left-handers with Henry Owens of Boston in contention for a starting rotation slot and Matt Moore attempting to reestablish himself as a premier pitcher after two injury-plagued seasons.

Tampa Bay Rays or whatever they are currently identified as are in another predicament as their roster is usually stripped by trades and free agency. This is what happens when one is in a pool of fiscal sharks that is the American League East. What one cannot do is dismiss the Rays who have a nagging tendency to manage to squeeze out every possible bit talent on their roster – especially pitching.

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For Owens, it was three solid but workman like innings allowing no runs and having the Rays hit into five ground ball outs behind some solid defensive support. For Moore, the blemish was Mookie Betts who said hello by launching his second spring home run to lead off for the Sox. That was the only negative as Moore did his required two innings without further incident.

For Owens, it was another performance where he navigated a pitching tightrope where jams were present and that was best demonstrated by the third inning with a double by Brandon Miller and a walk to Curt Casali starting the frame. A force out and a nifty double-play ended that uprising and sent Owens to the locker room with three innings work with a soon to disappear 1-0 lead. Owens certainly held serve in his battle with Joe Kelly for a rotation opening and that can be followed by BSI’s Max Sandgrund with weekly reports.

Pablo Sandoval contributed to the mini-rally with a throwing error to put Evan Longoria on first against new Red Sox pitcher Noe Ramirez. Sandoval was not done for the inning. A Logan Forsythe double with one gone brought up Steve Pearce who had the good hitting sense to smash one to third for a second Sandoval muff and a run. A Kevin Kiermaier single brought in the go-ahead run only to have the Sox tie it back up in the last of the fourth.

With one out Xander Bogaerts singled and up stepped David Ortiz for a blast to right field. X-Man scampered around while Ortiz had a single and it was now another titillating spring contest with a 2-2 tie and onto the parade from the bullpen as the game now became a battle of the farm systems.

Williams Jerez – a 23-year-old lefthander, had a nice recovery game from his previous one. Jerez – scheduled to be in the Portland bullpen – put in a solid seventh inning with a strikeout. The highlight in the last of the seventh was a one-out double by light-hitting catcher, Sandy Leon, who reached third and that was that. In the last of the eighth, the Red Sox managed to get Brock Holt to second where he stayed as muti-millionaire Allen Craig popped out.

William Cuevas – a 25-year-old righty scheduled for Pawtucket took over in the eighth inning and pitched into the tenth where problems waited.

The Rays finally managed a rally in the top of the tenth  starting it with the sin of all pitching sins a leadoff walk to Nick Franklin. With one out Franklin moved to third on a single to right by Kyle Roller. Eventually a ground ball out by Taylor Motter and that was the lead at 3-2 but the Red Sox did not go quietly.

The last of the tenth the Red Sox loaded them up with two outs on three walks. Up stepped Craig and a routine grounder ended the game.

Game Notes:
* The first pitch of the game hit Guyer.
* Sandoval has more errors (2) than hits (0) in the early going.
* Looking for some good Sandoval news? His fielding percentage is higher than his batting average (.000).
* Slick fielding Hanley Ramirez was flawless defensively at first. A Doug Mientkiewicz defensive clone.
* Blake Swihart remains hitless.
* Game time temperature in Boston was 43 degrees.
* Craig left four runners on base.

Next: Red Sox should use Roenis Elias as a Reliever thing spring

STARTING PITCHING . B+. . Game Ball. Henry Owens

The impressive part of Owens ( 3 IP, 2 H, K, BB, HP) performance was five ground ball outs. The less encouraging part is the control issue with a hit batter and a walk.

B+. . Game Ball. Tommy Layne. RELIEF PITCHING

Noe Ramirez (1 IP, 2 R, K, BB) had a fateful one inning of work as Sandoval contributed a pair of errors.

Robbie Ross

(1 IP, 2 K, 2 BB) got in his inning of work.

Tommy Layne

(1 IP, 2 K) impressed in his obligatory inning of work. Jerez (1 IP, K) pitched a solid seventh. Cuevas did 2.2 innings and got the loss giving up a run on three hits and issuing a walk.

Mike Augliera

(.1 IP, K) finished up.

. Game Ball. Mookie Betts. OFFENSE . D

A typical Betts type game with a home run and a single. Nothing impressive with the bats as Sox went 0-6 with RISP.