Red Sox-Orioles Live: Jonny Gomes Hits First Home Run of Spring, But Sox Drop 5-3 Decision to Orioles

Franklin MoralesFinal, Orioles 5-3: Pedro Strop gave up a single to Jeremy Hazelbaker to lead off the ninth inning. After that, the Orioles reliever said, “enough’s enough.”

Strop mowed down the Sox in order after the hit, striking out Christian Vazquez, Derrik Gibson and Ryan Dent to end the ballgame. The O’s once fell behind 2-1, but a pair of two-run innings — in the sixth and seventh — put them in the driver’s seat for good.

The Red Sox certainly had some opportunities in this game, but they left the bases loaded in the seventh and again in the eighth, all but ending their chances of coming back.

Jonny Gomes had the most noteworthy hit of the evening for the Red Sox. He crushed a Zach Britton offering in the fourth inning for his first home run of the spring. That actually put the Sox on top at the time, but it marked their only lead of the night.

As for Boston’s pitching, eight hurlers appeared in the game, including Franklin Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Koji Uehara.

The big story overall in this contest, though, was the injury suffered by Will Middlebrooks back in the first inning. Middlebrooks lost his grip on the bat while swinging awkwardly against Baltimore’s Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks immediately winced in pain, and the Red Sox wasted no time in lifting him from the game.

Fortunately, it looks as if Middlebrooks is going to be OK. He told reporters in the clubhouse that there’s no pain, nothing is broken and that the whole thing was “just a scare.” Middlebrooks said it wasn’t a big deal, and he probably could have stayed in the game, although the Sox wisely took the cautious approach. (The young third baseman’s 2012 season ended prematurely as a result of a broken wrist.)

The Red Sox will be back in action on Thursday, when they take on the Pirates. The game’s first pitch is scheduled to be delivered at 1:05 p.m. John Lackey will toe the rubber for Boston.

End 8th, Orioles 5-3: Christian Vazquez is really turning heads this spring.

While much has been made of the Red Sox’ catching depth, which includes Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway, Vazquez has put together a very impressive camp. In fact, it raises the question of whether Boston may consider dealing one of the aforementioned three backstops in the wake of Vazquez’s sudden emergence.

The final two outs were provided by Vazquez. First, he gunned down Buck Britton trying to steal second base. Then, Vazquez picked off Xavier Avery with a snap throw down to third base.

It wasn’t exactly an encouraging performance for pitcher Drake Britton, though. After allowing two runs in the seventh inning, he came back out, and walked Avery and gave up a single to Buck Britton to begin the eighth. After retiring Trayvon Robinson on a flyout, Britton was removed from the game, and Brock Huntzinger was brought on for Boston.

That’s when Vazquez took over.

The Red Sox will need a ninth-inning rally, as they’ll enter the final frame down by two runs.

10:15 p.m.: Good news for Red Sox fans. Will Middlebrooks spoke in the team’s clubhouse, and he said that there is no pain, nothing is broken and that the wrist injury he suffered back in the first inning was “just a scare.”

In that case, it must be Halloween, because watching him leave the game in pain was downright terrifying.

Mid 8th, Orioles 5-3: The Red Sox got one back in the eighth. Pedro Ciriaco tripled to lead off the inning, and his pinch runner, Derrik Gibson, came around to score on a Ryan Dent groundout.

Boston threatened for much more, though.

Justin Henry reached on an infield single with one out, and Mauro Gomez — pinch-hitting for Mark Hamilton — earned a two-out walk. That forced Troy Patton from the game in favor of Chris Petrini, who was greeted with a two-out, infield single off the bat of Mitch Maier. It was a close play at first, but Maier just beat the throw as a result of the ball being hit so softly.

The next batter, Jonathan Diaz, had an opportunity to make the two-out rally count, but after working the count full, Diaz flew out to right field.

End 7th, Orioles 5-2: It was a rough inning for Drake Britton and the Red Sox.

Britton struck out Trayvon Robinson to begin the seventh, but things spiraled out of control a bit from there. Zelous Wheeler and Chris Dickerson hit back-to-back singles, with Dickerson’s coming as a result of some confusion on a popup to shallow left field. Britton then hit Jason Pridie with a pitch to load the bases. After that, Taylor Teagarden, who struck out in his previous at-bat, hit a two-run single into left field that extended Baltimore’s lead to three runs.

Britton then went toe to toe with Buck Britton — the third Britton to appear in this game. (Buck’s brother, Zach, pitched earlier for the O’s.) Buck Britton eventually earned a few pass after working the count full, again loading the bases for the Orioles.

Drake Britton was able to escape any more damage by inducing a 6-4-3 double play, but the damage was certainly done, and the Red Sox now find themselves in a much more daunting hole.

Teagarden, who delivered the inning’s big blow, used to see his name come up quite often in connection with the Red Sox when he was a member of the Rangers. That was when Texas’ system was stacked with young, highly touted catchers. Teagarden, however, was eventually shipped to Baltimore in December 2011 for Randy Henry and a player to be named later.

There are also a number of changes to report from the last half inning. Jonathan Diaz, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Ryan Dent and Justin Henry are in for Boston. Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes are out.

Mid 7th, Orioles 3-2: The Red Sox loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but Troy Patton pitched the O’s out of the jam.

Daniel McCutchen stayed in the game to pitch the beginning of the inning, and he immediately ran into some trouble. Mike Carp led off the frame with a base hit, and after a Mark Hamilton strikeout, Jacoby Ellsbury also singled into center field to put runners on first and second. Dustin Pedroia followed up the pair of hits with a walk, which ended McCutchen’s night and threatened to end Baltimore’s lead.

Patton was up to the challenge placed before him, though. He struck out Shane Victorino, and got Christian Vazquez — who entered the game in the sixth for Jarrod Saltalamacchia — to ground into a force out.

End 6th, Orioles 3-2: Chris Davis is having a typical Chris Davis game. After whiffing in his first two at-bats, Davis took Junichi Tazawa deep to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

Tazawa, a bright spot in 2012, struggled in the inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis, who was then lifted for a pinch runner in Chris Dickerson. Dickerson would advance to second when Adam Jones hit a hard groundout to Pedro Ciriaco, and he would advance to third following a balk by Tazawa.

Davis’ home run followed up a Taylor Teagarden strikeout. It initially looked like Jonny Gomes had robbed Davis with a leaping grab at the left-field fence, but the ball landed in the first row, just beyond Gomes’ outstretched glove.

Things didn’t get easier from there for Tazawa, who surrendered back-to-back hits to J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth. Hardy singled into right field, while McLouth blooped a double down the left-field line.

Fortunately for Tazawa, after a visit to the mound, he was able to bounce back to strike out Wilson Betemit, keeping Baltimore’s lead at one run.

One other thing of note: Christian Vazquez entered the game for Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Boston’s new catcher.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Daniel McCutchen — who was Pittsburgh’s other McCutchen before this season — enjoyed a very easy, 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Pedro Ciriaco kicked off the inning by bouncing a slow chopper to Zelous Wheeler, who took over at second base for Brian Roberts before the inning. Wheeler made the easy play and fired over to first base for out No. 1.

McCutchen struck out Stephen Drew for the second out, and Jonny Gomes then made a bid for an infield hit, but a charging J.J. Hardy was able to make the play and toss to first to dispose of Gomes.

Junichi Tazawa will pitch the sixth for the Red Sox.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Andrew Miller and his flowing moss entered the game in the fifth, and the hairy hurler got the job done.

Miller struck out Nate McLouth, who has now fanned twice in the game, to begin the inning. The tall lefty then jammed Wilson Betemit, causing the third baseman to shatter his bat on a soft lineout to Stephen Drew at short.

Miller did walk Nolan Reimold in the frame, but the inning ended when Brian Roberts hit a bouncer to the right side that hit off the runner.

Red Sox pitchers have racked up seven strikeouts so far in this one. Junichi Tazawa and Drake Britton are expected to pitch as well.

Mike Carp, who was was recently acquired from the Mariners, took over at first base at the beginning of the inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Zach Britton settled down in the fifth after allowing the big, go-ahead home run to Jonny Gomes in the fourth.

Britton sandwiched a popup by Shane Victorino with strikeouts of Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Andrew Miller will take over for Boston in the bottom of the fifth.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Andrew Bailey came on in the fourth inning looking to bounce back after a rather rocky outing on Sunday against the Cardinals. He succeeded in looking much better.

Bailey scattered a hit to Matt Wieters, who’s now 2-for-2 in the game, but the right-hander picked up back-to-back strikeouts against Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy to end the inning. Davis has now struck out in both of his at-bats.

Red Sox fans will likely hear trade rumors involving Bailey throughout the season, especially if Joel Hanrahan succeeds and Bailey increases his value by pitching well. At that point, Bailey could be an attractive option for those teams looking for a bona fide closer. However, a back end of the bullpen that includes Hanrahan, Bailey and Koji Uehara should be equally as attractive to the Sox.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Jonny Gomes just showed off his bread and butter.

Gomes went down and got a low offering from Zach Britton, and he drove it out of the yard to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Gomes’ blast was a long one, and Britton immediately knew it was gone as soon as the slugger made contact.

After Daniel Nava struck out for the inning’s first out, Mark Hamilton lined one off Britton, resulting in an infield single. Jacoby Ellsbury ended the inning by grounding into a double play.

Ellsbury is now 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a double play. Fortunately, it’s still the spring.

End 3rd, 1-1: Koji Uehara came on to pitch the third, and he looked very impressive.

Uehara first struck out Nolan Reimold swinging, and he then got Brian Roberts to ground out to Daniel Nava at first. Uehara capped off the inning by striking out Nick Markakis.

Jonny Gomes, Nava and Mark Hamilton are scheduled to face the new O’s pitcher, Zach Britton, in the fourth inning. Andrew Bailey, who is warming up in the Boston bullpen, will likely pitch the fourth inning for the Red Sox.

8:14 p.m.: We still don’t have a lot of details regarding Will Middlebrooks’ injury. So far, the club is saying that Middlebrooks, who left the game in the first inning after an awkward swing, exited with a sore right wrist.

That, itself, is a little bit concerning, as it was the right wrist that Middlebrooks fractured last year — an injury that ended his 2012 season.

Mid 3rd, 1-1: It was back to the top of the order in third. This time, the Red Sox fared much better.

J.J. Hardy was a busy man to begin the inning, hauling in a popup off the bat of Ellsbury and easily taking care of a groundball by Pedroia. Schlereth couldn’t secure the 1-2-3 inning, though, which led to some trouble for the left-hander.

Schlereth plunked Victorino on the elbow and then walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia after missing with a 3-2 fastball. Pedro Ciriaco — again, who came on for the injured Middlebrooks — made sure the Red Sox took advantage of the opportunity. He knocked a base hit into center field that plated Victorino and sent Salty from first to third.

Stephen Drew flew out with runners on the corners to end the inning, but we’ve got ourselves a tie game in Sarasota.

End 2nd, Orioles 1-0: The Orioles have struck first after some sloppy play by the Red Sox in the second.

Adam Jones led off the inning against Joel Hanrahan by ripping one down to Pedro Ciriaco, who entered the game as Will Middlebrooks’ replacement at third base. Ciriaco made the play, but his errant throw across the diamond allowed Jones to reach base. Jones would quickly take off for second, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a poor throw that sailed into center field and allowed Jones to reach third base. Matt Wieters made the Sox pay by knocking a single up the middle that scored Jones.

Hanrahan came back to strike out Chris Davis, who has been known to rack up a K or two in his day, and J.J. Hardy followed that up with a walk after he ran the count full against the Sox righty. Hanrahan again bounced back, striking out Nate McLouth and forcing Wilson Betemit to ground out, but the O’s are on the board.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox put a runner in scoring position in the second, but they were unable to knock him in.

After Stephen Drew lined out to center field and Jonny Gomes popped out to begin the inning, Daniel Nava worked a two-out walk. That spelled the end of Chris Tillman’s night, as the Orioles turned to Daniel Schlereth with Mark Hamilton coming up.

Matt Wieters would then be charged with a passed ball that allowed Nava to scoot up to second. Hamilton would end the inning, though, by chopping one up the middle to the shortstop, J.J. Hardy.

Joel Hanrahan will pitch the second inning for Boston. Still no word yet on Middlebrooks’ injury.

End 1st, 0-0: Some nifty glovework by Daniel Nava in the bottom of the first.

Nava, who is once again seeing action down at first base, made a nice scoop on a throw in the dirt by Pedro Ciriaco, marking the inning’s first out. Nava then fielded one on his own, and took it to the bag himself for out No. 2.

Nick Markakis, batting third for the O’s, gave Franklin Morales’ offering a ride to center, but Jacoby Ellsbury was able to track it down for the third out of the inning.

We’re still waiting for a status update on Will Middlebrooks, who left the game in the top half of the inning.

Mid 1st, 0-0: It didn’t take long before this game took a turn for the worse. Will Middlebrooks swung awkwardly while facing Chris Tillman, and he has exited the game with an injury.

Middlebrooks, who suffered a wrist injury last season, appeared to grab his wrist after a swing in which his hand slipped off the bat. The Red Sox wasted no time in taking out the third baseman, and while it’s unclear how serious Middlebrooks’ injury is at this point, it definitely didn’t look good.

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

As for the inning’s other action, Pedroia put on a battle against Tillman before nearly blooping one down the right-field line. It fell foul, but it didn’t matter much, because Pedroia would ultimately stay back on a breaking ball and go the other way for a one-out single. It looked, at first, as if Pedroia might be able to stretch the hit into a double, as it was hit right down the right-field line. Nick Markakis made a nice play to get the ball quickly back into the infield, though, thus holding Pedroia to a single.

Shane Victorino then rolled one over to Brian Roberts at second. At first, it looked like a potential double play, but it was hit too softly for the Orioles to spin a twin killing. Jarrod Saltalamacchia would follow up that force out with a walk, and then Middlebrooks had his unfortunate incident, which ended with Pedro Ciriaco taking his place and grounding out.

7:05 p.m.: We’re ready for action at Ed Smith Stadium. The Orioles have taken the field, and here comes Jacoby Ellsbury to lead things off against Chris Tillman…

6:45 p.m.: It was confirmed on Wednesday that Alfredo Aceves will pitch for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Aceves has certainly had an interesting offseason. He landed in John Farrell’s doghouse earlier this spring after a rather bizarre live batting practice session, which prompted a discussion between the two parties and plenty of speculation about Aceves’ future with the club. Then, on Monday, Aceves seemed to show that he’s trying to do the right thing by sticking around in the Red Sox’ dugout for the entire game after pitching two innings — something that’s quite rare for a starter during spring training.

In any event, the news that Aceves will pitch for Mexico isn’t shocking, but it is the first time that the pitcher’s decision has been confirmed.

6:37 p.m.: Manager John Farrell said before Wednesday’s game that David Ortiz left for the Dominican Republic to attend a personal matter. No other details were given, but Ortiz is expected to be back in camp by Friday.

“He’s got a personal issue he’s taking care of, and we’re respecting of that,” Farrell said.

6:30 p.m.: Mike Napoli made some more progress on Wednesday, clearing what figures to be his final hurdle before making his spring debut on Friday night against the Pirates.

Napoli did a number of baserunning drills that required him to simulate in-game scenarios. He was able to complete all of the drills without pain in his hips or legs, which is certainly an encouraging sign. Beginning on Friday, we could see Napoli appear in game action nearly every other day until the April 1 season opener.

Napoli took some cuts on Tuesday against Clay Buchholz, who also continues to progress quite nicely. Buchholz, who suffered a minor hamstring strain during the first week of spring training, threw a 40-pitch simulated game on Tuesday. The right-hander is scheduled to start on Saturday against the Twins.

Felix Doubront, meanwhile, took his turn tossing a simulated game on Wednesday. He threw 39 pitches against the combination of Keury De La Cruz and Kolbrin Vitek from minor league camp.

Below is a look at which hurlers are expected to appear in Wednesday night’s contest.

Red Sox: Franklin Morales, Drake Britton, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller

Orioles: Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Zach Clark, Mark Hendrickson, Troy Patton, Daniel Schlereth, Pedro Strop

6:15 p.m. ET: John Farrell is turning to his starters in an effort to bounce back from Tuesday’s 15-4 defeat.

A day after getting smoked by the Cardinals, the Red Sox will take on the Orioles in the first of the teams’ five spring training meetings. The Boston lineup will pack a pretty good punch, as a number of the team’s regulars will get the nod against Buck Showalter’s bunch.

Jacoby Ellsbury will lead off and play center field, and Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino will bat second and third, respectively — a top three we’ve already seen from the BoSox this spring. Jarrod Saltalmacchia will bat cleanup and be Franklin Morales’ catcher to begin the game.

Wednesday will give us our first look at Morales this spring. The left-hander threw 23 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday, but this will be his first game action. Morales, who could be in line for a bullpen role to begin the season, made 28 relief appearances last season but also made  a career-high nine starts with the Red Sox before missing the club’s final 37 games due to injury. Overall, Morales went 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA. He also averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings, which was the eighth-best mark among American League pitchers with at least 75 innings pitched.

Showalter will be taking an approach similar to Farrell’s on Wednesday night. The O’s will be rolling out what projects to look a lot like their Opening Day starting lineup, with the only omission being Manny Machado, who figures to be their starting third baseman to begin the regular season.

Wednesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Fortunately, all of the action will air on NESN, so be sure to tune in. Be sure to keep it here with NESN.com’s live blog as well, though, as I’ll be pumping out some additional commentary, analysis and all kinds of other baseball-related awesomeness throughout the evening.

Wednesday’s lineups are below.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jonny Gomes, LF
Daniel Nava, 1B
Mark Hamilton, DH

Franklin Morales, P

Orioles
Nolan Reimold, DH
Brian Roberts, 2B
Nick Markakis, RF
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Chris Davis, 1B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nate McLouth, LF
Wilson Betemit, 3B

Chris Tillman, P

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