Final, Red Sox win 5-3: Well, as a former official scorekeeper for the Single-A California League Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for two seasons, I highly question that error call on Bradley. Flatly, it was the wrong call, and should have been a base hit given the definition of “reasonable effort.”
In any case, the Blue Jays push across an unearned run after the non-error on Bradley, but ultimately Webster puts down the Jays and secures the 5-3 win.
Taking one last look back on the day, if you’re Boston, the positives you take away from this one are Clay Buchholz and Ryan Sweeney. Sweeney goes 2-for-3 in his quest to make the Opening Day roster, while Buchholz just does what he’s supposed to do, taking the next step in his preparation for April 1. The good results don’t necessarily hurt, either.
Well, folks, that about does it for this one. However, we invite you to return tomorrow when your regularly schedule Red Sox beat writer, Ricky Doyle, will return to the live blog. However, in the meantime you can follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB any time.
End 8th, Red Sox 5-2: He’s erased on an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play, but, once again, how about Jackie Bradley Jr.? After that pinch-hit single, Bradley is now 15-for-28 on the spring, and, to harp on a broken record, is just doing everything within his control to prove that he belongs in the major leagues.
So, we go to the top of the ninth with the Red Sox looking to close out the game before the rain starts coming down in Fort Myers.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-2: Webster works around a double by Gose, and otherwise gets through the inning without incident.
In fact, after Gose doubled he was pinch run for by Kenny Wilson, who almost found out firsthand how good Christian Vazquez is behind the plate. The young catcher almost caught Wilson napping off second base, and if not for a throw that was just low probably would have gotten. As our NESN.com Red Sox beat writer Ricky Doyle pointed out a few days ago, Vazquez is thoroughly making an impression in big league camp, and is really messing with the presumptive pecking order behind the plate going forward for Boston.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-2: The Red Sox get a couple insurance runs on a ground ball by Jonathan Diaz and a sacrifice fly from Lyle Overbay. Those scores were set up by a leadoff walk from Jacoby Ellsbury and a single from Nava — both of whom were promptly removed for pinch runners.
So, the Red Sox extend their lead to three heading into the eighth inning, and Webster is set to head out for a second inning of work.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: While Rubby De La Rosa has shown he still has some work to do in the minor leagues, Allen Webster has been incredibly impressive, and may be the first option for the Red Sox should one of their starting five go down with an injury.
In Grapefruit League play so far, Webster has thrown nine innings and yielded just two runs. However, most impressively, he’s also struck out 12 batters now.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-2: Gomes and Lavarnway each go down on one pitch, which means that — oh so ironically — that Pedro Ciriaco turns out to be the only hitter in the inning to take a pitch. We kid, but seriously, Ciriaco is a total free-swinger and it was something that pitcher’s were clearly able to exploit the more the scouting report on the infielder got around baseball later in the season.
Otherwise, this game is going along at a very nice clip. It helps that it’s not being televised, but it’s also a surprisingly crisp game for what’s still relatively early in the spring.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2: Luis Jimenez hits a ground rule double that no one in the ballpark thought would stay fair — Jimenez was practically in the batter’s box when it landed beyond the fence — but otherwise Andrew Bailey works an unremarkable inning.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-2: Wasted opportunity for the Red Sox there, as Ryan Sweeney grounds into a 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the inning. That situation came via walks to Pedroia and Middlebrooks sandwiching a double by Napoli. All of that, by the way, came against Claudio Vargas for the Jays.
Looks like the wholesale changes are beginning in earnest, as all three baserunners in that last half inning were replaced with pinch runners.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-2: So Buchholz is indeed done for the day, as he is relieved by Andrew Miller. On the day that’s four innings of scoreless ball on three hits with no walks and a strikeout. So, solid outing for Buchholz, as he follows Jon Lester in showing some very good form.
However, Miller comes in and promptly yields a double to Anderson and a home run to Jim Negrych, cutting the lead down to a run. Miller became a very effective left-handed specialist last year in Bobby Valentine’s bullpen after coming up as a starter, and the grizzly-bearded Miller responded to the new role. He figures to have a spot in the bullpen locked up this year — particularly with fellow left-handers Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow battling injuries.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: So Sweeney gets his second knock of the day, and this time drives home Will Middlebrooks, who led off the inning with a double. Although Lavarnway singled Sweeney to third, that’s as far as he would get and the Red Sox settle for one run, extending their lead.
For Sweeney, it’s another positive as he tried to make the team — which probably got slightly easier with the news that David Ortiz isn’t likely to be ready by Opening Day — and Middlebrooks continues to show he’s all the way back from late-season wrist surgery and some sort of flare-up earlier this spring.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Jose Bautista doubles, but Buchholz works around it to keep the Blue Jays off the board. We’re not sure if Buchholz will be capped at four innings for today, but we’ll let you know as we go forward.
For Toronto, the reason they may be successful with the same player Miami failed with last season is its existing core — and that core is led by slugger Bautista. The right fielder has been one of the best hitters in baseball for years now, and in addition to protection from Edwin Encarnacion and the development of Brett Lawrie, but now he’ll have Jose Reyes batting in front of him, too. Regardless of how they fare in wins and losses, Toronto figures to have a prolific offense in 2013.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox push across two runs behind singles from Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli — who is playing in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Pedro Ciriaco and Daniel Nava set up the runs with their own knocks.
However, Napoli was thrown out at second trying to stretch his knock into a double. Though that’s not the kind of thing you’d like to see during the regular season, but at this time of the year it’s good to see that Napoli is healthy and running the bases aggressively.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: The Blue Jays threaten there, getting to Buchholz for the first time, but fail to put any runs across. After Lars Anderson flied out to begin the inning, Ryan Goins and Jim Negrych both singled, putting runners on at first and second. However, Anthony Gose grounds into the 6-4-3 double play, and Buchholz works through the trouble.
End 2nd, 0-0: Ryan Sweeney doubles with two outs, but Germano puts Jonny Gomes away behind him on a 5-3 ground out, so we’re still scoreless here through two innings.
Sweeney’s a player who is thoroughly on the bubble for the Red Sox. In many ways it’s surprising that he’s still on Boston’s roster, as he originally wasn’t offered a contract by the team, and became a free agent. However, after Ryan Kalish’s injury, the team brought him back on, and now he’s in a battle for likely the very last spot on the roster among position players.
While Sweeney has the body type of someone you would think should hit 40 home runs a season (I’ve interviewed and stood next to him, he’s an impressive physical specimen), he’s simply never been that kind of player. However, he’s a solid defender who can play all three outfield spots and has the kind of on-base skills the Red Sox typically covet.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Buchholz has now retired six in a row to begin the game, getting two ground outs and Andy LaRoche to line out to Pedro Ciriaco at shortstop.
Speaking of Andy LaRoche, it’s kind of fascinating that he’s still kicking around the big leagues. The third baseman was a much-heralded prospect coming up through the Dodgers organization, but was never able to stick there. He spent three seasons with the Pirates before helping out the Athletics in 2012, and now he’s really just fighting for a job. For a guy who was projected as a middle of the order hitter, LaRoche has never shown much with the bat at this level, owning a .642 OPS in 1,332 career plate appearances.
4-A guy? Probably.
End 1st, 0-0: A couple of groundouts and a strikeout for Daniel Nava, and Germano works through his first inning without incident, as well.
Although Germano did get into one game last year for the Red Sox, he actually pitched quite a bit for the Cubs down the stretch — and he was pretty much awful. In 13 appearances (12 of those starts) the right-hander was lit up to the tune of a 6.75 ERA in 64 innings pitched. Germano’s career arc really hasn’t been what you typically see from guys who debut in the majors at 21 years old, but now he’s just fighting for a job as part of the Blue Jays’ pitching depth.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Good first inning there for Buchholz, who works through the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in the first inning.
The 28-year-old right-hander is kind of an interesting case coming into 2013. For reference sake, I began this job roughly June 1 of last year, at which time I obviously started following the Red Sox much more closely, and watching the games every day. So, from my perspective, Buchholz was a borderline ace-quality pitcher last season.
However, I obviously missed out on the first two months of the 2012 campaign, when Buchholz largely struggled. So which Clay Buchholz shows up this April? When he’s on he’s capable of leading a rotation, but when he’s not right things can snowball in a hurry.
1:20 p.m. ET: Howdy folks, officially, signing on for the day, and the first order of business, per usual, is the starting lineups:
Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Gose, LF
Colby Rasmus, CF
Jose Bautista, RF
Luis Jimenez, DH
Josh Thole, C
Andy LaRoche, 3B
Lars Anderson, 1B
Ryan Goins, SS
Jim Negrych, 2B
Justin Germano, RHP
Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, DH
Jonny Gomes, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Clay Buchholz, RHP
8 a.m. ET: It’s no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays (7-8) are coming into the 2013 season with a completely new look as the beneficiaries of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s offseason firesale. MLB’s only Canadian team already had a core that included Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista, so Toronto figures to play a role in determining the outcome of the ultra-competitive AL East.
On Tuesday the team sends Justin Germano (0-0, 7.71) to the hill. The 30-year-old right-hander has been up and down in the big leagues going all the way back to 2004, and actually spent last season as rotation depth for the Red Sox with Pawtucket for much of the year, but did in fact appear in one game for the Sox, working 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Yankees during a July game.
The Red Sox (8-8) will counter with Clay Buchholz (1-0, 0.00), who’s being counted on to largely anchor the rotation in 2013 along with Jon Lester. This will mark the right-hander’s fourth start of the spring, and in his last outing he threw three innings and 38 pitches. So, look for something like four innings and 50 pitches this time out, and make note of the 28-year-old’s brisk pace on the mound — which was much commented upon during his last start.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, but we’ll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, “all the stats and stories” leading up to the game. And, if you’re so inclined, you can follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff for additional baseball analysis and nonsensical anti-jokes.