Pittsburgh held a 3-1 lead after two innings, but it was all Boston from then on. The Pirates’ pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone, and the Sox took advantage, scoring four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth to build a commanding lead. They’d never look back.
Pirates pitchers issued 15 walks in the game. That’ll certainly please Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, who has preached taking a patient approach at the plate, but the surplus of free passes were mostly a reflection of Pittsburgh’s hurlers simply struggling with their control throughout the contest.
Drew Sutton walked four times in the game, while David Ross and Lyle Overbay each walked twice. The big head-turner offensively, however, was Jackie Bradley Jr. The 22-year-old outfielder went 3-for-5 with three runs scored in the game, showing once again that he could find himself in the big leagues a lot sooner than we all initially anticipated.
John Lackey started Thursday’s contest for the Red Sox. He went two innings and allowed three runs on three hits while striking out one, walking one and hitting a batter.
It won’t be long before these two teams hook up again. They’ll square off at JetBlue Park on Friday night, with Jon Lester making the start for the Red Sox. The first pitch in that one is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., and all of the action will be televised live on NESN.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 16-5: Jeremy Hazelbaker grounded out against Tony Watson to open up the ninth inning, but the left-handed reliever struggled from there.
Ryan Dent singled and Dan Butler was hit by a pitch, putting runners at first and second with one out. David Renfroe, batting for the first time since taking over for Lyle Overbay at first base, then delivered an RBI single to center field to score Dent.
Shannon Wilkerson struck out swinging for the inning’s second out, but Derrik Gibson followed up with a base hit that scored Butler, who represented Boston’s 14th run.
Still, the Sox weren’t done.
Brandon Jacobs got into the action with an RBI single of his own, extending Boston’s lead to 15-5. Not to be outdone, Heiker Meneses singled home the Red Sox’ 16th and final run.
End 8th, Red Sox 12-5: Jerry Sands, who was traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal, led off the inning for the Pirates. He was retired on a groundout to the shortstop.
J.D. Durbin then walked Carlos Paulino — the third free pass issued by Boston. Paulino wouldn’t stay on the bases long, though, as Durbin got Matt Hague to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
Tony Watson will take over for the Pirates in the ninth inning.
The Red Sox have a pretty strange stat line thus far. They have 12 runs, nine hits, 15 walks and have left 24 men on base.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 12-5: Another inning. Another walk. Fortunately for the Bucs, who have issued 15 free passes in total, it was the inning’s only one, and it didn’t result in any more damage.
Justin Wilson walked Derrik Gibson to begin the inning. After striking out Brandon Jacobs, Wilson then struggled with his control again while facing Heiker Meneses. Meneses ended up striking out swinging, though.
The inning ended with Wilson striking out Matthew Marquis.
J.D. Durbin is coming on to pitch for the Red Sox.
End 7th, Red Sox 12-5: Terry Doyle made quick work of the Pirates in the seventh inning of what has been an otherwise long game.
Doyle retired Anderson Hernandez, Darren Ford and Felix Pie in order. Hernandez grounded out, Ford struck and Pie, who homered earlier, flew out.
The Red Sox made a boatload of substitutions before the inning. Heiker Meneses, Matthew Marquis and Ryan Dent — who pinch ran in the top half of the inning — stayed in defensively. Brandon Jacobs and Derrik Gibson came in for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jose Iglesias.
These subs should really test Red Sox fans’ knowledge.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 12-5: It’s seventh-inning stretch time at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla. Before the break, though, the Red Sox increased their lead.
Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up his third hit of the game on a single into right field. He would advance to third base on a single by Brock Holt, and then score when Ryan Lavarnway grounded into a 5-4 force out.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, batting for the first time, walked against Andy Oliver, as did Drew Sutton. Sutton’s walk was his fourth of the day, further solidifying the theme of the game.
Sutton’s walk ended Oliver’s day. Justin Wilson took over with the bases loaded and Dan Butler at the plate. Butler lifted a fly ball to right field that Jerry Sands hauled in. It was deep enough to score Boston’s 12th run of the game, though.
Following Butler’s sac fly, David Renfroe walked to load the bases, but Wilson escaped any more damage by retiring Shannon Wilkerson on a groundout. It was a close play at first, but you can bet the umpires are going to give Pittsburgh that call at this point.
The Pirates have issued 14 walks in this game. Pirates hitters have walked 10 times all spring. Fun. Fact.
End 6th, Red Sox 10-5: Terry Doyle — no relation (or at least I don’t think) — pitched the sixth inning for the Red Sox. He scattered a hit, but worked around it to keep the five-run lead intact.
After Matt Hague flew out to Boston’s new left fielder, Shannon Wilkerson, Doyle struck out Gaby Sanchez. Jordy Mercer then slapped a two-out single into right field, before Lucas May flew out to end the inning.
I joke about Doyle, but the 27-year-old right-hander does have local ties. Doyle is a native of Concord, Mass., who attended Salem High School in Salem, N.H., and then Boston College. He actually spent some time playing over in Japan, and he signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox back in November.
Before the inning, the Red Sox made a couple of defensive changes. David Renfroe replaced Lyle Overbay at first base, and Shannon Wilkerson replaced J.C. Linares in left field.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 10-5: The Pirates, in typical spring training fashion, made numerous substitutions before the sixth inning. Before we get to those, let’s take a look at the action.
With Andy Oliver pitching for Pittsburgh, Drew Sutton and Lyle Overbay sandwiched a Dan Butler walk with a pair of flyouts. Butler would advance to third on a base hit by J.C. Linares, who is 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.
Oliver would ultimately keep Boston off the board, though, as Jose Iglesias struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Bucs have a new-look squad in the wake of the midgame subs. Darren Ford, Jerry Sands, Matt Hague, Gaby Sanchez, Jordy Mercer, Lucas May and Andy Hernandez are in. Alex Presley, Travis Snider, Clint Robinson, Jared Goedert, Josh Harrison, Tony Sanchez and Chase d’Arnaud are out.
Chris Hernandez will come back out and pitch the bottom of the sixth inning for the Sox.
End 5th, Red Sox 10-5: The Pirates have begun chipping away.
After Alex Presley got things going with a one-out single to center, Felix Pie cut into Boston’s lead with his first home run of the spring. Pie’s blast landed in right-center, and made this a 10-5 ballgame.
Chris Hernandez, pitching his first inning of the day, proceeded to strike out Travis Snider and Brandon Inge. One more strikeout for Snider — who has three — and he’ll be donning the always embarrassing golden sombrero.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 10-3: Look at that! A quick inning for the Pirates!
After walking the ballpark and allowing nine runs in the previous two innings, Roman Colon retired Brock Holt, Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Sweeney in order — all via groundouts — to hold the Red Sox scoreless for the first time since the first inning.
It looks like Boston will be making some changes before the home half of the fifth. Jeremy Hazelbaker will replace Sweeney in right field, and Dan Butler will replace David Ross behind the plate. Chris Hernandez will come on to pitch.
While we have a second, I just thought I’d let everyone know that we’ll be rolling out the first Red Sox/MLB mailbag of the spring very soon. Feel free to send along any and all questions via Twitter (@TheRickyDoyle) or drop them in here. Also feel free to get a little crazy with the questions, because who doesn’t like a little craziness every now and then?
End 4th, Red Sox 10-3: It was easy to get that, “Oh boy, here we go,” feeling when Chris Carpenter walked Jared Goedert to begin the bottom of the fourth. After all, walks have been the story of this game.
But fortunately for the Red Sox — and perhaps all of us who have something to do at some point this week — Carpenter immediately atoned for his mistake.
After walking Goedert, Carpenter got Josh Harrison to ground into a double play. There’s a good chance Harrison will lose a little bit of sleep tonight, because he’s been absolutely awful in this game. Not only has he made two costly throwing errors, but he’s also 0-for-2 following the DP.
Carpenter ended the inning by striking out Tony Sanchez.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 10-3: This one has turned into a rout.
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hot spring continued in the fourth. Bradley led off the inning with his second hit of the contest, and the outfielder then showed another aspect of his game by stealing second base with Brock Holt at the plate.
Holt ended up walking, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Zach Foster, who came on for Jonathan Sanchez in the third inning and remained in the game to pitch the fourth, was able to retire Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Sweeney on a flyout and popout, respectively. However, the same issue that plagued Sanchez then plagued Foster.
Just as Sanchez did in the third, Foster walked Drew Sutton, David Ross and Lyle Overbay consecutively, resulting in two more Boston runs.
Roman Colon came on to replace the struggling Foster, and he too couldn’t find the strike zone. Colon walked J.C. Linares to give the Red Sox their eighth run of the game, and Jose Iglesias followed up with a two-run single.
Bradley popped out to end the inning, but not before the Red Sox batted around once again and pushed across five runs.
Pirates pitching has now issued 10 walks in four innings. Sutton has drawn three of those walks, while Ross and Overbay have each drawn two.
Ugly display by the Pirates’ pitching staff, to say the least. This game could take a while.
End 3rd, Red Sox 5-3: Chris Carpenter relieved John Lackey to begin the third, and he was able to settle things down a bit.
The Pirates put up three runs in the bottom of the second, and the Red Sox responded with four runs in the top half of the third, so things were getting rather wild down in Bradenton. Carpenter was able to keep the Bucs off the board in the home half of the third, though.
Jose Tabata started things off with a little dribbler back to the mound. Carpenter fielded the ball with his bare hand and fired to first for the out.
Carpenter then struck out Travis Snider before allowing a single to Brandon Inge. Shorstop Jose Iglesias made a nice play on the hit by Inge, but all he could do was knock it down.
Carpenter ended the inning by making another defensive play. He retired Clint Robinson on a groundout back to the mound. I guess those PFP drills are really coming in to play.
Jackie Bradley Jr., who is 1-for-2, will lead off the fourth for Boston.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 5-3: Pirates shortstop Josh Harrison is providing much of the Red Sox’ offense.
Harrison made his second throwing error of the game in the third inning, which allowed the Sox to tie the game, and eventually resulted in Boston jumping ahead.
After Jose Iglesias lined out to start the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt delivered back-to-back singles. The Red Sox got aggressive from there, sending both runners with Ryan Lavarnway at the dish. Lavarnway worked a walk, though, which loaded the bases for Ryan Sweeney.
Sweeney lined Jonathan Sanchez’s offering to Harrison. Harrison made the grab, but in an attempt to double up Lavarnway at first base, the Pirates shortstop threw the ball away. The ball kicked up into the seats, and both Bradley and Holt were allowed to score.
From there, Sanchez issued three straight walks to Drew Sutton, David Ross and Lyle Overbay, resulting in Boston’s fourth run of the game.
The free passes were followed by a J.C. Linares single, which plated the Red Sox’ fifth run and knocked Sanchez from the game after just two thirds of an inning.
The Red Sox batted around in the frame, as Iglesias, who led off, also ended the inning.
End 2nd, Pirates 3-1: John Lackey’s second inning of work went far less smoothly.
Lackey allowed back-to-back singles to Brandon Inge and Clint Robinson to begin the inning, and Jared Goedert ensured everyone came home to score. Goedert lifted Lackey’s offering into the seats in left field, giving the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
Josh Harrison, who made a poor throw in the top half of the inning to temporarily give the Red Sox a lead, grounded out to Drew Sutton down at third base for the first out. Lackey then walked Tony Sanchez, and fell behind Chase d’Arnaud 2-0 before battling back to retire him on a sharp lineout to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. Alex Presley grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
Overall, it was a lackluster performance for Lackey when you consider the three runs he allowed. That being said, he’s clearly still a work in progress as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, so we shouldn’t get too high or too low on anything he does during his first few spring starts.
Through two innings, here’s a look at Lackey’s stat line: 3 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 34 pitches, 22 strikes.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jameson Taillon got into some trouble to begin the inning, and a defensive miscue allowed the Red Sox to jump ahead.
Taillon allowed a single to Ryan Sweeney and walked Brock Holt to put runners at first and second before Davis Ross flew out to Travis Snider in right field for the inning’s first out. Taillon nearly got out of inning unscathed via a double play, but shortstop Josh Harrison’s relay to first baseman Clint Robinson was off the mark, allowing Sweeney to come across with the game’s first run.
Lackey now heads back to the mound with a lead for the first time this spring.
End 1st, 0-0: John Lackey enjoyed a nice first inning. He worked at a good pace, and although he plunked Jose Tabata, the right-hander struck out Travis Snider to end the inning.
Tabata was thrown out trying to steal by Davis Ross, who enters his first season back with the Red Sox as one of baseball’s most respected backup catchers.
Overall, the Red Sox are fairly deep at the catcher’s position, and that’s been evident this spring. In addition to Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox have Ryan Lavarnway, who is at big league camp but could find himself heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket to begin the year. The Sox also have Christian Vazquez, whose sensational arm was on display on Wednesday night. Vazquez could be a couple of years away, but he has really emerged as an intriguing player in the Sox system.
Ryan Sweeney, Drew Sutton and Ross are due up for Boston in the second inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: A great play by Pirates second baseman Chase d’Arnaud set the tempo for the rest of the inning.
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit one up the middle that looked like a sure single, but d’Arnaud made a nice diving stop and fired to first for the inning’s first out.
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon then struck out Brock Holt and Ryan Lavarnway to end the 1-2-3 first inning.
1:07 p.m.: We’re under way in Bradenton…
1 p.m.: We’ll see if Jackie Bradley Jr. can continue his torrid start to the spring. Bradley is 5-for-9 with a double, RBI, walk and a run so far in his first big league camp.
The success at the plate accompanies the superb defense we’ve come to expect from Bradley. The 22-year-old has shown great instincts in center field. He has nice speed, but he is by no means a speedster. Instead, his range is the product of a great first step and excellent route-running.
Bradley has drawn plenty of praise, and manager John Farrell didn’t rule out the outfielder cracking the big league roster, although it seems unlikely. I actually touched on the subject on Wednesday, so feel free to check it out at the link below.
12:55 p.m.: We’re about 10 minutes away from the game’s first pitch. The Red Sox did play the Twins in a “B” game on Thursday morning, however, and Boston picked up a 4-0 win.
Deven Marrero and Justin Henry were the only players from big league camp slated to play in that game.
Also, a big happy birthday to Red Sox Hall of Famer and current player development consultant Frank Malzone, who turned 83 years young on Thursday.
12:09 p.m.: Anyone still skeptical of Middlebrooks’ status? Well, the Red Sox just tweeted out a photo of the third baseman taking batting practice.
It’s onward and upward.
11:45 a.m.: We’ve got some very encouraging news coming out of Red Sox camp.
Will Middlebrooks, who left Wednesday’s game in the first inning with a wrist injury, has been cleared for baseball activities, according to manager John Farrell. The Sox skipper said that Middlebrooks could even play on Friday.
Middlebrooks said after exiting Wednesday’s game that nothing was broken, nothing was torn and that the incident was “just a scare.” That, obviously, allowed everyone to breathe a little easier, but Thursday’s news really lets Sox fans exhale.
It didn’t look good initially when Middlebrooks left Wednesday’s game. He tried to check his swing against Orioles starter Chris Tillman, and his hand slipped off the bat, resulting in a rather awkward swing. Middlebrooks immediately winced in pain, and Farrell and the Sox’ trainers wasted no time in taking out the young third baseman.
Middlebrooks, of course, missed the tail end of last season after breaking his right wrist, so it was certainly the right move to immediately remove him from the game at the first sight of discomfort. The 24-year-old is just too important to the Red Sox’ future to start risking anything early on during spring training.
9 a.m.: Here’s a look at the starting lineups for Thursday.
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Drew Sutton, 3B
David Ross, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
J.C. Linares, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS
John Lackey, P
Alex Presley, CF
Jose Tabata, LF
Travis Snider, RF
Brandon Inge, DH
Clint Robinson, 1B
Jared Goedert, 3B
Josh Harrison, SS
Tony Sanchez, C
Chase d’Arnaud, 2B
Jameson Taillon, P
By the way, whoever wrote out Thursday’s lineup card for the Pirates — manager Clint Hurdle, perhaps? — has some awesome handwriting. Just my two cents.
8 a.m. ET: John Lackey drew plenty of positives from his first start of the spring on Saturday. Now, he’ll look to take another step forward in his second spring start, which comes against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Lackey will toe the rubber as the Sox travel to Bradenton for an afternoon affair with the Bucs. Following Saturday’s start, Lackey appeared very enthusiastic about his first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Lackey focused mostly on getting the ball into the catcher’s mitt during that outing, which featured a heavy dose of fastballs that didn’t have much velocity, but Thursday could be an opportunity for the veteran right-hander to try some new things.
Chris Hernandez, Chris Carpenter and Terry Doyle are also slated to take the mound against the Pirates as the Red Sox look to bounce back from a 5-3 loss to the Orioles in Sarasota on Wednesday night. Jameson Taillon is expected to go for Pittsburgh.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Be sure to keep it right here with NESN.com throughout the day for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.