Final, Marlins win 8-7: With two outs and one on, with the Marlins down 7-6, Christian Yelich — who’s enjoying an impressive spring — stepped up to the plate for Miami and gave his team the win in Jupiter, hitting a two-run home run to center field off of Carpenter to end the game. Carpenter was figured a longshot to make the team out of spring training, anyway, but this certainly won’t help his chances.
In any case, don’t get too down about this one folks. As we often repeat, the scores just don’t matter at this time of the year, and there are lots of positives to take out of this game — namely Jon Lester and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Lester, who’s being counted on as the staff ace for the 2013 campaign, has done everything so far to show he’s capable of bouncing back from last year’s calamity. On Monday afternoon he goes five innings, yielding just one earned run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts on 54 pitches. Moreover, he retired the last 11 batters he faced.
And how about Jackie Bradley Jr.? This live blogger came into this spring thoroughly believing that Bradley should start the season at Pawtucket and see regular at-bats there before likely being folded into the Boston lineup in 2014. However, that time frame may have been moved up a year, as, quite frankly, there’s just nothing more Bradley can do to prove he belongs, and he deserves to be in the outfield mix come Opening Day. On Monday, he goes 3-for-4 with a walk, a single, a double and a home run to lead off the game.
Let’s see if that actually pans out, but this is another reminder to use the Twitter hashtag #keepJBJ if you think he deserves to be in Boston on April 1.
Anyway, that will about do it here for your NESN.com Red Sox Live Blog. Thanks for tuning in and I hope we imparted some knowledge upon you that you can take forth into your baseball-analyzing lives. But, for now, if you’re so inclined, you can follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and MLB any time off the live-blog clock.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 7-6: Drew Sutton singles, but otherwise nothing doing for the Red Sox in the top half of the ninth. As they fail to put across any insurance runs, we go to the final frame with Boston holding a one-run lead. It looks like Chris Carpenter — who will forever be known as the compensation the Sox received from the Cubs for Theo Epstein — will be called upon to close it out in the ninth.
End 8th, Red Sox 7-6: Well, there are no extra-inning games at this time of the spring, but the Red Sox clung to their lead in that last half inning. After Jake Jeffries reached on an error, Jordan Brown doubled him to third, but they were both left stranded by Carter.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-6: With that single, Bradley is now a triple away from hitting for the cycle. Although Bradley likely won’t get the chance to complete it, we’d have to imagine hitting for the cycle during spring is a rare feat, and a quick Google search tells us the last time it happened was actually last March, when Brewers prospect Scooter Gennett did it in a split squad game.
Anyway, we’ve seen Peter Abraham promoting it on Twitter, so how about the hashtag #KeepJBJ to keep Bradley on the Sox roster heading into the season. At this point we don’t even know what to say about Bradley’s 14-for-27 spring. However, the more we see him the more we feel like he should be a part of Boston in 2013.
End 7th, Red Sox 7-6: One of the overlooked aspects of last August’s mega-trade that shipped out Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford was that it wasn’t just a salary dump — the Red Sox received back some legitimate minor league talent.
However, of the two prospect pitchers Boston received, it’s clear this spring that Allen Webster is much closer to major league ready. Both him and Rubby De La Rosa have ace-quality stuff, but Webster’s command is just so much better at this point — he could end up starting games for the Sox in 2013.
De La Rosa, however, showed his weaknesses in that last half inning, walking four batters and yielding five runs (all earned) in two thirds of an inning before giving way to Anthony Carter, who gets Christian Yelich on strikes with Kevin Kouzmanoff at second base to preserve a one-run lead.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-1: Wholesale defensive changes for the Marlins entering the inning. We’ll spare you from going through them all, but we thought we’d let you know.
However, after Brock Holt doubles, Will Middlebrooks continues to show that his wrist issues are a thing of the past by clobbering his second home from of the Grapefruit League to left field. Suffice it to say that’s good news for Middlebrooks, who will be a key cog for the Red Sox offense. Despite coming off of injury, it’s clear that the sophomore third baseman will need to carry more of the offensive load for the Red Sox to be competitive in 2013.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-1: Alex Wilson comes on for Lester and picks up right where he left off, retiring the Marlins in order. So, that’s 14 Miami hitters in a row that have been set down.
Like we said in the intro, it’s going to be a long year in South Beach.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-1: Zach Phillips comes on to replace Koehler, and follows his act by getting Maier, Bradley and Iglesias in order. Yes, folks, that’s right, Bradley’s batting average has tumbled all the way down to .500, as the center fielder is 2-for-3 on the day with a walk, a double and a home run.
And it does indeed look like Lester is done for the day, so his line ends up being one earned run on three hits over five innings, and four strikeouts. We’re also seeing reports on social media that the left-hander’s pitch count ended up at 54, so that was likely a function of the Red Sox capping his day at five innings.
End 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Once again, not much to report. Lester sets down the side 1-2-3, meaning, if this is indeed his last inning, he retired the last 11 batters he faced. While you don’t want to put too much emphasis on results this early in the spring, with the kind of season Lester had in 2012, any reason for optimism is something the Red Sox will take.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Nothing doing there for the Red Sox, as Will Middlebrooks, Carp and Mauro Gomez go down in order.
It looks like Lester is slated to go back out for one more, and likely his last, inning, so that’s a positive sign to see him working up to five innings by his fourth start. That’s pretty much right in line with what you’d like to see from Lester at this time of the year, so he’s right on schedule.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-1: That’s Lester’s second consecutive inning setting down the side in order, and he ends the frame by punching out veteran Austin Kearns.
We forgot to mention that, beginning last inning, right-hander Tom Koehler took over for Kevin Slowey to pitch for the Marlins, and it looks like he’ll be back on the hill for a second inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 5-1: So a couple items of note for players trying to make the Red Sox in that last half inning.
First, Mike Carp leads off the game with a home run. Being the younger player with more defensive flexibility, it figured Carp had an edge over Lyle Overbay for the last spot on the roster, and that certainly helped his cause. Secondly, Bradley doubles to tack on another run, and extend his ridiculous spring season to 13-for-25. Yes, folks, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting over .500 25 at-bats into Grapefruit League play.
This is a dangerous comparison, but Bradley may be forcing his way onto the roster the way Mike Trout did for the Angels last year with his play in Triple-A.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: Quick 1-2-3 inning there for Lester, who looks to be settling down after yielding a couple hard-hit knocks earlier in the game. Unfortunately we do not have access to a reliable pitch count to check where the left-hander’s at for the game, but on the day he’ll be slated for about 60-65 pitches after throwing 52 his last time out to the hill five days ago.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: One thing that figured to be different about this year’s edition of the Red Sox was the team’s on-base percentage. Basically, Boston’s OBP without David Ortiz in the lineup in 2012 was abysmal, with the team throwing away many an at-bat. However, with the players the team brought in this offseason — Drew, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, specifically — the Red Sox figured to be a team that would take their walks this year.
Well, they weren’t players who may get many plate appearances with the big club this year, but Bradley and Mitch Maier get things started by taking free passes, and after Napoli is hit by a pitch, Jarrod Saltalamacchia comes up with the big hit, a two-run double, to retake the lead for Boston.
End 2nd, 1-1: Casey Kotchman doubles off of Jon Lester, but otherwise nothing doing for the Marlins in their half. We’ll actually get back to Kotchman at some point in this live blog — he’s kind of an interesting player — but for now, some more bad news on the Red Sox injury front.
Peter Abraham is reporting that Stephen Drew is still experiencing concussion symptoms, which is obviously very serious when it’s a multiple-day thing — now nearly a week. Drew says he’s never had a concussion before, is just following the advice of the medical staff and will likewise await their clearance.
Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) March 11, 2013
End 1st, 1-1: One of the great things about watching the World Baseball Classic has been catching all the where-have-they-been names — guys like Hanley Statia and Karim Garcia. I feel like Juan Pierre should also be in that group, except he never left Major League Baseball.
If the statistical revolution in MLB has helped increase the value of guys like Adam Dun, it’s probably killed the valuation of Pierre, who’s been one of the most consistent performers in the sport throughout his career. However, due to the fact that he’s an impatient leadoff hitter, his value takes a hit. Still, that didn’t stop the Dodgers from handing him one of the most ridiculed contracts in the history of the sport back in 2006.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: So what’s left to say about Jackie Bradley Jr. at this point? The 22-year-old center fielder has done just about everything within his power to make the Opening Day roster, and yet it’s still likely he’ll begin the year in Pawtucket. Is he ready to make an impact at the major league level yet? It’s difficult to say whether or not he’s ready to face top-tier pitchers in midseason form, but, suffice it to say, he looks good this spring.
Bradley leads off the game with a home run, his first of the spring, and is now 12-for-24 in the Grapefruit League.
12:55 p.m.: Well, if you’re a Red Sox fan, we open today with some bad news. David Ortiz’s heels (plural, apparently) have been a big focus for a few days now, and yesterday came the news that the team was shutting down its designated hitter for about a week. Well, we figured that didn’t mean good things in terms of Opening Day, but now Ortiz seems to be confirming that targeting April 1 is a pipe dream.
In fact, according to The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton, and just about every source, Ortiz is saying that the goal is to play five or five-and-a-half months without pain. However, the good news is that the issue is no longer with Ortiz’s Achilles, specifically, but is probably an injury incurred for compensating for the original injury during rehab.
Ortiz acknowledges Opening Day unlikely: bit.ly/13PDiy2—
Tim Britton (@TimBritton) March 11, 2013
12:45 p.m.: Howdy folks, officially signing on for the day, and the first order of business are the starting lineups:
Boston Red Sox
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Mike Napoli, C
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Mike Carp, LF
Mauro Gomez, DH
Mitch Maier, RF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jon Lester, LHP
Juan Pierre, LF
Donovan Solano, 2B
Justin Ruggiano, CF
Chris Valaika, DH
Rob Brantly, C
Austin Kearns, RF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Ed Lucas, 3B
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Kevin Slowey, RHP
8 a.m. ET: In this elongated spring season surrounding the World Baseball Classic, we’re at the point where players begin to push themselves a bit more physically to gear their bodies up for the grind of a 162-game season.
For the Boston Red Sox (8-8 in Grapefruit League play), that means Mike Napoli is slated to play the first of back-to-back games on Monday for the first time this spring. Although Napoli has said he’s never in his life experienced symptoms from the degenerative hip injury that caused to much trouble in contract negotiations this offseason, playing two days in a row will nonetheless be a good test of how he’s holding up physically, and another opportunity for repetitions at first base.
The Sox are slated to hand the ball to Jon Lester (2-0, 1.00) for his fourth start of the spring. His last time on the hill the 29-year-old left-hander threw 52 pitches, so he’ll likely be looking for something more like 60-65 on Monday afternoon as he continues his preparation for a bounce-back season.
For the Miami Marlins (6-7), at this point we all know the story of their offseason and the lowly roster the team is stuck with. Moreover, much-maligned owner Jeffrey Loria’s one and only star, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, is still on duty with Team USA in the WBC, so he won’t be featured for the Marlins on Monday. Basically, when losing catcher Jeff Mathis — statistically one of the worst hitters in the history of the game — puts a major kink in your preseason preparation, it’s a sign the team is in for a long, long season.
Nonetheless, the Marlins will counter with 28-year-old right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-0, 0.00 in 6 1/3 innings pitched), who’s trying to bounce back in the majors after a forgettable 2012 campaign. After pitching reasonably well for the Twins as a back-of-the-rotation guy from 2008 through 2010, Slowey was forced out of the rotation picture in 2011 and traded to Cleveland (via Colorado) after the season. But in 2012 he only made eight starts with Triple-A Columbus before succumbing to a stress fracture in his ribcage. He pitched in the Dominican winter league this offseason and drew a surprising amount of interest as a free agent, eventually signing a minor league deal with Miami.
And, oh yeah, he also once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with R.A. Dickey.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and Will Middlebrooks, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jose Iglesias and Rubby De La Rosa are among the players making the 140-mile bus ride across the Florida peninsula from Fort Myers to Jupiter. We’ll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, “all the stats and stories” leading up to the game, so stay tuned.
And, if you’re so inclined, you can follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff for Red Sox and MLB analysis, as well as the occasional limerick.