Final, Red Sox win 4-3: So don’t underestimate the fact that this is a game that Team Puerto Rico has to take more seriously than a typical early-spring matchup. Both sides played crisp baseball, and that’s reflected in the fact that our game time was pretty close to 2:30 — and that pitching largely ruled this one.
But, ultimately what’s most important to take away from this one? Well, we have to look at a couple of players coming off of injury last season: John Lackey and Will Middlebrooks.
For Lackey, it’s just one more hurdle cleared — with every additional hurdle being every time his pitch count is increased and the spring games gradually become more intense. But, for today he throws three unremarkable innings, yielding just three hits and no runs. More to the point, he seemed to be gaining a little more feel out there on the hill.
For Middlebrooks, it’s just showing that last week’s wrist setback wasn’t such a big deal. He’ll be a big cog in the Red Sox’ 2013 fortunes and expected to carry much more of the offensive load than he was as a rookie, so it’s good to see the power stroke coming around early in the spring — again, especially after the wrist tweak.
Well, that’s about it from us here for this evening, and your regularly-scheduled Red Sox writer, Ricky Doyle, will be back tomorrow afternoon as Boston takes on the Pirates at 1:35. In the mean time, however, we invite you to follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and MLB any time.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: Andrew Miller and Jose De La Torre — normally a Red Sox product, but pitching today for Puerto Rico — toe the line on the mound in the eighth, keeping the score at 4-3.
So, we’re on to the top of the ninth with the Reds Sox looking at an opportunity for a solid win over a very good WBC team. And it looks like Andrew Bailey is going to get a chance to come on and pitch the ninth inning for an unofficial save — this game isn’t even counted in the Grapefruit League standings, not that those really count for anything.
In the meantime, if you’re so inclined you can check out this piece from ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, which looks at former Boston shortstop Mike Aviles reuniting with a few of his former teammates.
End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Well this is some crisp baseball, isn’t it? The game is moving along pretty well, and not much has happened over the last two innings — and since we can’t actually see this game, we can’t analyze some of the little things like execution and pitch sequencing.
But that being said, I’m kind of intrigued at the social media response that’s been largely in favor of Puerto Rico this evening.
Does anyone out there have any Puerto Rico WBC gear, by any chance? Or does anyone have a Puerto Rican flag nearby that they’re displaying while following the game?
If you do, I want you to take an Instagram picture and tweet it to @ZachStoloff. Yes, tweet a picture of your Puerto Rican support to me, and I’ll put the picture in this live blog for everyone to see.
End 6th, Red Sox 4-3: So Mortensen ends up going three innings, and though he yields another hit in the sixth he gives up no runs, so his latter two innings end up going significantly better than the first.
On the other side of the ball, Team Puerto Rico brings in reliever Mario Santiago, a Dodgers prospect who have exactly one game of major league experience under his belt. Nonetheless, Santiago gets through the inning without incident, striking out a batter.
We’re starting to see some changes now from both clubs, and perhaps the most interesting is Jose Molina replacing his brother, Yadier, behind the plate. Jose and Bengie Molina, the eldest sibling, used to play together on the Angels, but the younger two of the three have never been on the same team in the majors.
Aside from that, Pedro Ciriaco and Jackie Bradley Jr. are in the game for the Red Sox, while Jesus Feliciano of the Rays takes over in center field for Puerto Rico.
End 5th, Red Sox 4-3: So Mortensen has a bounce-back inning there, holding Team Puerto Rico down his second inning out on the hill.
The Red Sox offense, however, responds in kind, scoring two runs of its own to retake the lead. Stephen Drew and Mitch Maier gets the RBIs, knocking home Lavarnway and Maier himself. All four of the Red Sox’ runs have come off of reliever Orlando Roman, who’s thrown 363 games in the minor leagues without getting up to the show.
Maier and Lavarnway both doubled, and Drew singled home the second run.
So, it’s a good offensive showing from Lavarnway facing decent-caliber pitching. The Red Sox seem to have no doubt that the young backstop will be able to make the adjustments necessary behind the plate, but standing in the batter’s box there are some questions about his viability at the major league level. But games like this during the spring will certainly help his cause.
End 4th, Puerto Rico 3-2: Clayton Mortensen is one of about three or four pitchers fighting for the last spot in the Red Sox bullpen, and that fourth innings didn’t do his cause any favors. He yields three runs on four hits, and it easily could have been more. Mitch Maier threw out old friend Mike Aviles at the plate, and Mike Napoli made a nice stop at first to prevent another run from scoring.
However, speaking of Napoli, he hits an absolutely bomb over the Fenway South Monster in left field to cut the deficit back to 3-2. According to social media reports, it may have been as high in the air as 800 feet. Suffice to say that’s probably hyperbole, but either way he hit one of his patented Moon shots — the exact reason so many people believe his swing is tailor-made for Fenway Park.
End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: So, it’s an absolutely positive day if you’re John Lackey. The right-hander gives up his second hit of the night to Falu, but works through his third scoreless inning. He’ll now give way to Clayton Mortensen, but all in all it’s a very solid outing for Lackey, who ends up yielding no runs on three hits with two strikeouts in three innings of work. Unfortunately we don’t have access to a reliable pitch count.
Nonetheless, that’s what you’d like to see from Lackey at this time of the year. There were no major blips, just putting forth one more step on the road to complete recovery — and doing it against a very good Puerto Rican lineup.
On the other side of the ball, Ryan Lavarnway gets a base hit off of Figueroa, but otherwise nothing doing for the Red Sox offensively.
Top 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Good stuff from Middlebrooks that last half inning if you’re rooting for the Red Sox. Although, we will note that, based off of social media comments, there are a lot of Puerto Rican supporters out there.
In any case, enjoy this Twitpic of Middlebrooks’ home run courtesy of the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) March 06, 2013
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: So, first an FYI: We’re switching this blog to a once-an-inning update format. Normally we’d go every half inning, but right now there is a dearth of information available.
That all being said, don’t go anywhere, as just because our quantity might decrease slightly, that only means the quality is going to improve.
Moving on, Lackey gives up a hit to Carlos Rivera, but otherwise moves through another inning without incident. In the bottom half of the frame however, the Red Sox received some very good news on the state of Will Middlebrooks when the young third baseman hit his first home run of the spring. So, suffice to say that wrist scare was only just that, and Middlebrooks looks to be back on track to lead the team from the batter’s box this season.
End 1st, 0-0: So Napoli was robbed of a hit by third baseman Andy Gonzalez in that last half inning, but otherwise the Red Sox don’t manage more than a Stephen Drew walk. However, that in and of itself is a good sign.
The Red Sox clearly targeted players this offseason for their plate discipline. Drew was absolutely among them as, like his brother, he’s known for his good eye at the plate.
In any case, the Red Sox should have a lot of long at-bats this season.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Lackey gives up a hit to Irving Falu in the first inning, but otherwise nothing doing for Puerto Rico. In fact, we now have the team’s starting lineup:
Angel Pagan, CF
Irving Falu, 2B
Alex Rios, LF
Carlos Beltran, RF
Yadier Molina, C
Mike Aviles, SS
Carlos Rivera, 1B
Andy Gonzalez, 3B
Eddie Rosario, DH
Nelson Figueroa, RHP
6:45 p.m. ET: Howdy folks, officially signing on for the evening.
For the record, we’re about as disappointed as anyone this one isn’t televised anywhere (for the record, the MLB Network, which is showing most all World Baseball Classic games, is just going through their normal schedule now), but fear now, for your Red Sox Live Blog is here. At this point, we still don’t even know who’s pitching for Team Puerto Rico, but I guess that’s part of the fun of a scrimmage like this. In any case, we’ll fill you in on all the relevant information once it becomes available to us.
In the meantime, if you’re following along at home or elsewhere, now would be the time to go get yourself a beverage (adult or otherwise) and settle in for some international baseball action.
2 p.m.: Lineup!
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Stephen Drew, SS
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, DH
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Mitch Maier, CF
John Lackey, P
8 a.m. ET: If you’re not yet on board with the World Baseball Classic, well, it’s time to hop on.
Yes, there are some inherent problems with the tournament’s setup, and, as a certain live blogger recently noted, the rosters aren’t nearly as exciting as they could be. However, so far the Classic has produced some great moments, namely Team Brazil surprising its way into the tournament by ousting Panama, then nearly toppling defending champion Japan in its opening game.
So if international baseball excites you, strap in, because one of the deepest teams in the tournament is set to make a visit to JetBlue Park.
On Tuesday night, Team Puerto Rico will take on the Red Sox in Fort Myers in a spring training game of its own before heading back home to San Juan to host Pool C — also featuring Venezuela, Spain and the Dominican Republic — in what will almost undoubtedly be the most lively round of the Classic. They’re passionate about their baseball in that part of the world, and that passion will be on display on Tuesday in Florida.
Puerto Rico has yet to announce its starting pitcher, but the Red Sox are set to send John Lackey (1-0, 12.00 ERA this spring) to the hill to take on a lineup that may feature the likes of Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Last time out, Lackey threw 43 pitches before being pulled — necessitated by a 35-pitch second inning — which was probably a bit low considering it was his second outing, even coming off Tommy John surgery. In his third time out, look for Lackey to be somewhere in the ballpark of 55-60 pitches, though we’ll see if manager John Farrell says anything about his expectations for the big right-hander ahead of the game.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 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. You can also follow this live blogger on Twitter for additional baseball analysis and biting sarcasm at @ZachStoloff.
Photo via Instagram/Boston Red Sox