Jonathan Diaz and Pedro Ciriaco started off the ninth with back-to-back singles against Brooks Brown. Ciriaco’s hit sent Diaz from first to third, and Diaz would then score when Drew Sutton grounded out. It didn’t mean much, though, as Pittsburgh had this game well in hand.
The Pirates scored their first run of the game back in the first inning against Jon Lester. The left-hander settled down for the most part after allowing his first run of the spring, and he finished his outing having allowed one run on two hits while striking out three and walking three in four innings of work.
Most of Pittsburgh’s damage came against knuckleballer Steven Wright, who pitched the fifth and sixth innings for Boston. Wright suffered the loss, and he gave up five earned runs on five hits with three walks.
Rubby De La Rosa, who was awesome in his first two outings of the spring before Wednesday, also struggled a bit. He gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits. The right-hander struck out two, walked one and had a throwing error that allowed Pittsburgh to extend its lead in the eighth inning.
The Red Sox will be back in action on Thursday afternoon. They’ll take on the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. The first pitch of the contest is scheduled to be delivered at 1:05 p.m. Clay Buchholz will get the start, with Allen Webster, Chris Carpenter, Koji Uehara, Joel Hanrahan and Daniel Bard also expected to toe the rubber.
Mid 9th, Pirates 9-2: The Pirates got a runner to third base in the ninth, but Junichi Tazawa kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard.
Matt Hague started the inning by lifting a high flyball to left. The ball probably would have gone out of most ballparks, but at JetBlue Park, which features its own version of the Green Monster, the result was a long double. We’ve actually seen the Monster play a big role in the game, as a few guys have been robbed of would-be home runs.
Hague moved to third when Lucas May flew out to right field. That’s as far as he would get, though, as Tazawa retired the next two hitters.
The Red Sox are expected to send Jonathan Diaz, Pedro Ciriaco and Drew Sutton to the plate in the ninth.
End 8th, Pirates 9-2: The Red Sox put runners at the corners in the eighth inning, but pitcher Vin Mazzaro was able to walk away unscathed.
After Mauro Gomez struck out to begin the inning, Jeremy Hazelbacker and Heiker Meneses hit back-to-back singles. Meneses shot his through the right side, which allowed Hazelbaker to go from first to third.
The threat wouldn’t amount to anything, however, because Mazzaro then got Christian Vazquez to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
Junichi Tazawa will come on to pitch the ninth inning for Boston.
Mid 8th, Pirates 9-2: It hasn’t really been Rubby De La Rosa’s day.
After the Pirates posted two runs in the seventh inning, De La Rosa returned to the mound in the eighth hoping for better results. The pitcher didn’t help his own cause, though, as he made a costly throwing error to begin the inning.
De La Rosa made a play on a comebacker, but he fired the throw past first baseman Mauro Gomez, which allowed Jose Tabata to scamper all the way to third base. Tabata would score two batters later when Alex Presley grounded out to shortstop Jonathan Diaz for the second out.
De La Rosa issued a two-out walk to Jared Goedert, who led off the seventh inning with a double, but the right-hander then bounced back to retire Josh Harrison to retire the side.
End 7th, Pirates 8-2: Drew Sutton worked a walk to lead off the inning, but he was quickly wiped off the basepaths and the Red Sox sent the minimum three batters to the plate.
Lyle Overbay grounded into a 4-6-3 double play after Sutton’s walk to give the Pirates the inning’s first two outs. Mike Carp, batting for the first time, then struck out to end the inning.
Rubby De La Rosa will come back on for Boston in the eighth.
Mid 7th, Pirates 8-2: Rubby De La Rosa entered the game having thrown four scoreless innings and looking every bit as advertised in his first two outings of the spring. The Pirates were able to push across a pair of runs against the hard-throwing righty in the seventh.
Jared Goedert led off the seventh inning with a double. It looked as if De La Rosa might be able to avoid any damage, as he struck out Josh Harrison and got Matt Hague to pop out to first base. The Bucs had some two-out magic up their sleeves, though.
Lucas May, pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge, struck an RBI double to left field that plated Goedert. Carlos Paulino then pinch hit for Michael McKenry, who had been 2-for-2 with an RBI, and he helped increase Pittsburgh’s lead.
The Pirates were given a gift on the eighth run, though. Paulino hit a line drive into center field, and Pedro Ciriaco — who had just shifted out to center — allowed the ball to get by him. The end result was another Pittsburgh run, and Paulino ended up on third base.
De La Rosa struck out Jordy Mercer to end the inning.
Before the inning, the Red Sox made a number of defensive substitutions. Ciriaco obviously shifted to center field, while Mike Carp and Jonathan Diaz — each of whom pinch ran in the seventh — stayed in the game as the DH and shortstop, respectively. Drew Sutton, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Heiker Meneses are in. Brock Holt, J.C. Linares and Jackie Bradley Jr. are out.
End 6th, Pirates 6-2: Christian Vazquez has turned heads this spring with his defense behind the plate. In the sixth, Vazquez made an impact with his bat.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia started off the inning by hitting a ball that likely would have been out of any other ballpark. At JetBlue Park, though, the result was a long double, as Salty’s hard-hit line drive plunked high off the Green Monster in left.
Mauro Gomez and J.C. Linares each grounded out after Saltalamacchia’s double, but Jonathan Sanchez — who also struggled in his previous outing against the Red Sox — couldn’t finish the clean escape. Jackie Bradley Jr. walked, setting the stage for Vazquez to come through.
Vazquez, who has shown a strong arm while playing catcher this spring, knocked a base hit into center field that plated Mike Carp — who pinch ran for Salty — and sent Bradley to third base. Jose Iglesias followed up with a walk, which loaded the bases and knocked Sanchez from the game.
Phil Irwin came on to pitch for Pittsburgh with two outs, and he got out of the jam by getting Pedro Ciriaco to fly out to center field.
Mid 6th, Pirates 6-1: Steven Wright started off his spring by tossing two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on Feb. 25. The results haven’t been the same since.
Wright, who gave up two runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Pirates last Friday, has gotten touched up in this game as well. The Pirates pushed across three more runs against the knuckleballer in the sixth, and they now hold a five-run edge.
Garrett Jones walked to begin the inning. After Brandon Inge grounded into a 6-4 force out, Michael McKenry struck a double high off the left-field wall, which sent Inge to third as the Pirates catcher cruised into second. Clint Barmes got the scoring going in the sixth inning by notching a sac fly.
The sac fly gave Pittsburgh its fourth run, but the Bucs weren’t done. Jose Tabata pinch hit for Starling Marte, and he struck a hard-hit double of his own, which plated McKenry, who represented Pittsburgh’s fifth run.
Clint Hurdle turned to a second pinch hitter in Brad Hawpe, and Hawpe singled into left field to give the Pirates their sixth run.
Before the inning, Lyle Overbay replaced Jonny Gomes in left field, and Christian Vazquez came in for David Ross behind the plate.
It’ll be interesting to see how Overbay handles the outfield. He’s never played in the outfield in his big league career, and all 27 of his spring training innings before this game came at his natural first base position. Clearly, Overbay holds much more value if he’s able to play in the outfield, though. And considering he’s battling with the likes of Mike Carp and Daniel Nava for playing time, it’s fairly important that Overbay proves his worth this spring.
End 5th, Pirates 3-1: Jared Hughes came on for Pittsburgh, and he twirled a perfect inning.
Pedro Ciriaco lined out to Pedro Alvarez at third base for the first out, and Brock Holt grounded back to the mound for the second out.
Hughes then fell behind Jonny Gomes 3-0 before battling back to run the count full. Gomes, who knocked in the Red Sox’ only run back in the third inning, popped out to Neil Walker in shallow right field to end the inning.
Steven Wright and his knuckleball will once again be on display in the sixth.
Mid 5th, Pirates 3-1: Steven Wright entered the game in the fifth inning, and he struggled with some control issues that allowed the Pirates to regain the lead.
Wright gave up a leadoff single to Michael McKenry, and then issued back-to-back walks to Starling Marte and Travis Snider after Clint Barmes grounded into a force out. That loaded the bases for the Pirates’ most dangerous hitter, Andrew McCutchen, and the two-time All-Star delivered.
McCutchen smacked a base hit back up the middle. Pedro Ciriaco made a nice play that likely prevented the hit from scoring two runs, but the single enabled the Bucs to regain the lead.
Pedro Alvarez followed up with a deep sac fly that resulted in the inning’s second out but also the frame’s second run. Neil Walker popped out to end the inning.
End 4th, 1-1: J.C. Linares continues to build his reputation as a spring training performer.
After Mauro Gomez led off the inning by flying out to center fielder Andrew McCutchen, Linares came close to giving the Red Sox their first lead of the game by blasting a wall-ball double off the Green Monster in left.
Linares, who hit .316 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs in 110 games split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, has put together a nice spring. He’s 7-for-17 with a home run, five RBIs and two runs scored.
Jackie Bradley Jr., who is also enjoying a hot spring, walked to put runners at first and second with one out. Jeff Locke bounced back to strike out David Ross, and he got Jose Iglesias to line out to end the inning.
Locke breezed through his first 2 2/3 innings, but he really had to labor through his last 1 1/3 innings. That’ll be the afternoon for him.
Mid 4th, 1-1: Jon Lester issued a leadoff walk to Neil Walker, but a 1-6-3 double play turned the lefty’s fortunes around.
With Walker at first, Garrett Jones hit a ball back to Lester. The pitcher snagged it, and immediately fired to Jose Iglesias at second base to start the twin killing.
Brandon Inge flew out to right fielder J.C. Linares to end the inning.
End 3rd, 1-1: After the first eight Red Sox hitters failed to muster up any offense against Jeff Locke, Pedro Ciriaco lined a single into left field. That really changed the complexion of the inning.
Locke started off the inning by quickly retiring David Ross and Jose Iglesias. Ross lined out to the second baseman, Neil Walker, and Iglesias grounded out to Pedro Alvarez at third.
Ross, known for his defensive presence and astute handling of the pitching staff, is now hitless in eight spring training at-bats. Iglesias, who hit two doubles on Monday, is now 6-for-19 with four extra base hits, including a home run, and five RBIs.
Ciriaco’s single helped back Locke into a corner, though. Ciriaco stole second base with Brock Holt batting, and Holt then worked a walk to put runners at first and second for Jonny Gomes.
Gomes, who hit a ball to the warning track in his first at-bat, didn’t disappoint. He hit an RBI double that brought Ciriaco around to score.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a chance to give Boston the lead with Gomes on second and Holt on third, but Locke was able to settle down and retire Salty on a slow roller.
Gomes’ strong suits have always been his power and his production against left-handed pitching. We’ve seen a little bit of both thus far.
Mid 3rd, Pirates 1-0: Jon Lester finally got the Pirates to go away quietly in the third inning.
Lester gave up a run in the first and loaded the bases in the second, but the left-hander enjoyed a quick, 1-2-3 inning in the third.
Lester kicked off the inning by striking out Travis Snider, who has now fanned twice in this game. Andrew McCutchen, who knocked in the game’s only run with an RBI groundout in the first inning, popped out to Pedro Ciriaco at second base for the second out. Pedro Alvarez then popped out to Brock Holt at third base for out No. 3.
The Red Sox will send up David Ross, Jose Iglesias and Pedro Ciriaco in the home half of the third.
End 2nd, Pirates 1-0: Jeff Locke, who gave up three first-inning runs against the Red Sox last Friday, has cruised through the first two innings.
Mauro Gomez and J.C. Linares each flew out to Andrew McCutchen in center field to begin the inning. Locke then struck out the hot-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the frame.
Mid 2nd, Pirates 1-0: The Red Sox are flashing some leather early in this one.
An inning after Brock Holt robbed Andrew McCutchen with a diving play at third, Pedro Ciriaco made a nice grab over at second base. Ciriaco was able to throw out Garrett Jones from his knees in shallow right field for the second out, after Neil Walker led off the inning by popping out in foul territory.
Brandon Inge made sure no one could make a play on him. He ripped a line drive into center field for a two-out single.
Inge’s hit sparked a little bit of a rally, as Michael McKenry and Clint Barmes (who turned 35 on Wednesday) worked back-to-back walks to load the bases. Lester escaped the jam, though, by getting Starling Marte to fly out to right field.
End 1st, Pirates 1-0: Starling Marte has already been a busy man.
Marte, who led off the game with a triple, recorded two putouts in the home half of the first.
Brock Holt lifted a flyball that Marte was able to easily haul in for the first out, and then Jonny Gomes gave one a ride to left. Gomes’ longball bid fell just short, though, and Marte was able to make the catch on the warning track.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, getting the start as the team’s designated hitter, struck out to end the inning.
Mid 1st, Pirates 1-0: Jon Lester allowed no runs and just one hit in five innings during his first two starts of the spring. He allowed a leadoff triple that led to a run in the first inning of this one.
Starling Marte led off the game by blasting a line drive off JetBlue Park’s Green Monster, and the speedy outfielder ended up on third base with a triple. He would score two batters later.
After Lester struck out Travis Snider on three pitches, Andrew McCutchen hit a sharp groundball to third. Brock Holt made a diving play to take away a hit, but the play allowed Marte to come across with the game’s first run.
Lester struck out the powerful Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.
1:37 p.m.: We’re under way at JetBlue Park…
1:30 p.m.: We’re about five minutes away from game time, which is usually when I toss some nifty facts in your direction.
Wednesday’s contest marks Boston’s 12th Grapefruit League game this spring. The Sox will play 35 games in total, and they enter the game with a 6-5 record thus far. This is their third of five games against the Pirates this spring, as they already defeated the Bucs on Feb. 28 and March 1.
Tuesday was another encouraging day for the Red Sox, particularly because of John Lackey’s effectiveness against a Puerto Rico team that had some major league talent on its roster.
One rare sight on Tuesday came in the ninth inning when Red Sox non-roster invitee Jose De La Torre pitched a scoreless frame against his team as a member of Puerto Rico.
Speaking of De La Torre, a non-roster invitee has made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster 12 times in the past 10 years. Check out the history below.
2003: RHP Steve Woodard
2004: UT Cesar Crespo, 1B Brian Daubach, 1B/OF David McCarty
2005: 1B/OF David McCarty
2008: C Kevin Cash
2009: SS Nick Green
2010: LHP Scott Schoeneweis
2011: LHP Dennys Reyes
2012: RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Vicente Padilla
1:25 p.m.: Below is a look at who the Pirates will be sending out against Jon Lester to begin the game.
Starling Marte, LF
Travis Snider, RF
Andrew McCutchen, CF
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Neil Walker, 2B
Garrett Jones, 1B
Brandon Inge, DH
Michael McKenry, C
Clint Barmes, SS
Jeff Locke, P
11:40 p.m.: The Red Sox’ lineup card is in, and it’ll be Brock Holt leading things off.
Holt and Pedro Ciriaco are battling for a spot on the roster as a utility player, and we’ll have an opportunity to see both of them in action on Wednesday. Holt is hitting .278 (5-for-18) with three runs in eight spring training games thus far, while Ciriaco is batting .313 (5-for-16) with a run, four RBIs and two stolen bases in seven spring games. The two also played together in Monday’s tilt, with Holt leading off in that game as well while Ciriaco batted second.
The rest of Wednesday’s lineup is below.
Brock Holt, 3B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
Mauro Gomez, 1B
J.C. Linares, RF
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
David Ross, C
Jose Iglesias, SS
Pedro Ciriaco, 2B
Jon Lester, P
11:20 a.m. ET: The Red Sox need Jon Lester to be pre-2012 Jon Lester in 2013. If the lefty’s first two starts of spring training are any indication, the outlook is good.
Lester had a disappointing 2012 season, to say the least. After establishing himself as one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball during the four years prior, he went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA while the Sox suffered through their worst season since 1965.
It’s a new year, though, and Lester appears focused on silencing his critics. He’s been working hard with manager John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves and the rest of the Boston coaching staff in order to get his mechanics back to where they were before he stumbled in 2012. And while spring training results shouldn’t be overblown, Lester has looked solid in his first two starts, tossing five scoreless innings and striking out three.
Lester’s second start of the spring came against the same Pirates team he’ll face on Wednesday. The veteran hurler pitched three innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out two last Friday. On Wednesday, Lester will start the game and then be followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Steven Wright, Junichi Tazawa and Anthony Carter.
Lester will deliver his first pitch at 1:35 p.m. ET.