Red Sox-Rays Live: Ronald Bermudez Leads 15-Hit Attack, Sox Roll to 9-2 Victory

IglesiasFinal, Red Sox 9-2: The Red Sox’ pitching has often been the main storyline this spring, but it was Boston’s offense that really showed up to play on Saturday.

The Sox banged out 15 hits — from 11 different batters — and were in total control throughout a 9-2 victory over the Rays in Port Charlotte.

Ronald Bermudez, who entered the game just 1-for-1 in two Grapefruit League games with the Sox, collected three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, to lead Boston’s offensive attack. Jose Iglesias (2-for-4, triple, two runs) and Mauro Gomez (2-for-5, double, two RBIs) also had multihit games.

Boston jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Rays starter Roberto Hernandez, but Tampa cut into the lead when Sean Rodriguez crushed a two-run blast off Red Sox starter Alfredo Aceves in the third. The Sox extended their lead by putting up a run in both the sixth and the seventh. Then, Boston put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth, when Blake Swihart and Mauro Gomez each drilled two-run doubles.

Aceves pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking one. He also provided another classic Aceves moment before departing in the fifth.

The right-hander plunked Rodriguez in the back in Rodriguez’s first at-bat after his home run. That led to a shouting match, and a few Rays players even exited the dugout. Cooler heads would ultimately prevail, but it wasn’t before Rodriguez had to be held back and Aceves gave everyone another reason to question what really goes on in his head some times.

Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard and Chris Martin proceeded to hold Tampa Bay scoreless for the remainder of the game in order to secure the win.

The Red Sox will be back in action on Sunday. They’ll rock the green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during a rematch with the Rays at JetBlue Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, and all of action will air live on NESN. Jon Lester will get the start.

That’ll do it for this one. To all you Irish out there, don’t hit the bottle too hard. Sunday’s another big day.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 9-2: The Red Sox have opened things up.

Blake Swihart, who took over behind the plate in the eighth, hit an absolute frozen rope down the right-field line to score two runs. Mauro Gomez then got into the action with a two-run double of his own, and the Sox head to the ninth with a 9-2 advantage.

The Red Sox have 15 hits, which have been divided amongst 11 hitters. Leading the way is Ronald Bermudez, who led off the ninth with his third hit of the game.

After Bermudez reached, the hot-hitting Heiker Meneses struck out. Derrik Gibson got things going back in the right direction, though, by singling into left field with one out.

Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out following Gibson’s single, and Rays pitcher Dane De La Rosa almost got out of the jam. He got to two strikes on Swihart, but the 20-year-old backstop drilled a 3-2 offering and thus set up a big inning.

Gomez’s two-run double came two batters after Swihart’s — with a Lyle Overbay walk mixed in between.

It’s on to the bottom of the ninth, but this one looks like it’s in the bag for Boston.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-2:  Chris Martin relieved Daniel Bard in the bottom of the eighth, and he did a solid job.

Shelley Duncan struck out swinging, and Luke Scott and Mike Fontenot each grounded out as part of Martin’s 1-2-3 inning.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-2: The Rays are still within striking distance, so it was important for Cesar Ramos to hold down Boston in the eighth.

Mauro Gomez led off the inning with a base hit. But after Drew Sutton struck out swinging, J.C. Linares grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and keep the game at 5-2.

With Gomez’s single, every hitter in the Red Sox’ starting lineup now has a hit. You know what that means? Subs!

The Red Sox have made a number of substitutions. Heiker Meneses, Derrik Gibson, Matty Johnson and Blake Swihart are in. Brock Holt, Jose Iglesias, J.C. Linares and Ryan Lavarnway are out.

Red Sox fans will get a brief glimpse of a few rather unfamiliar names for the rest of this one.

End 7th, Red Sox 5-2: Daniel Bard’s encouraging camp continues. He worked a perfect seventh inning, racking up a K in the process, and he now has five scoreless innings to his credit this spring.

Bard retired Cole Figueora on a flyout, struck out Brandon Guyer and got Stephen Vogt to fly out.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-2: It’s the middle of the seventh, so get up and stretch. All I ask is that you be careful.

Prior to the seventh-inning stretch, the Red Sox tacked on another run.

Jose Iglesias connected on a leadoff triple. Jackie Bradley Jr. failed to knock in the run, as he grounded out to first base with Tampa’s defense pulled in, but Ryan Lavarnway lifted a flyball to the highly touted Wil Myers in right. Myers came up firing and delivered a strike to the plate, but catcher Stephen Vogt’s tag was high, and Iglesias slid in safely with Boston’s fifth run.

Lyle Overbay flew out to left field to end the inning.

End 6th, Red Sox 4-2: Leslie Anderson is putting together a Jackie Bradley Jr.-esque spring training.

The Rays outfielder is now 3-for-3 after connecting on his second double of the game in the sixth. The two-bagger raises Anderson’s average this spring to .425.

Of course, Anderson — who turns 31 later this month — doesn’t quite have the buzz surrounding him that Bradley does, but it’s been an impressive stretch for the career-long minor leaguer.

Anderson’s double didn’t lead to any damage, though. Andrew Bailey, who took over for Andrew Miller at the beginning of the inning, struck out Chris Gimenez to end the frame.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-2: Jake McGee took over for the Rays after five innings by Roberto Hernandez. He enjoyed success right out of the gate, but the Red Sox then dinked and dunked their way to another run.

Lyle Overbay struck out swinging and Mauro Gomez grounded out to begin the inning, and that’s when things got a bit more difficult for McGee.

Drew Sutton hit a base hit into right field, and J.C. Linares followed up by dropping one into center. Sutton went from first to third, setting up runners at the corners for Ronald Bermudez.

Bermudez, who hit an RBI single earlier in the game, increased Boston’s lead by placing a single over Sean Rodriguez’s head and into right-center field.

Brock Holt grounded out to first to end the inning.

End 5th, Red Sox 3-2: After the brief jawing match between Alfredo Aceves and Sean Rodriguez, Andrew Miller came on to pitch for Boston.

Miller struck out Matt Joyce, and then retired Luke Scott on a long flyout to right.

2:32 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves’ day is done, but in typical Aceves fashion, the right-hander managed to ruffle some feathers.

With one out in the fifth, Aceves drilled Sean Rodriguez right in the back. Rodriguez, of course, knocked in Tampa Bay’s two runs with a long home run back in the third inning.

Aceves and Rodriguez exchanged words, and a few Rays players came out of the dugout. Order was quickly restored, though.

Aceves was taken out by manager John Farrell following the at-bat.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-2: The Red Sox put a couple of runners on, but no one crossed the plate, and we’re still looking at a 3-2 game.

Brock Holt hit a one-out double, and Jackie Bradley Jr. worked a two-out walk. (Ronald Bermudez struck out and Jose Iglesias grounded out.) Ryan Lavarnway then threatened to bring both runners around to score by hitting a Roberto Hernandez pitch down the line. The ball dropped just foul, though, and Lavarnway was forced to pick up his bat and get back into the box.

Lavarnway flew out to center on a 1-2 pitch, stranding Boston’s two runners.

That will all but do it for Hernandez, who pitched the first five innings. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out five.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-2: Alfredo Aceves was hit hard in the fourth, but the Rays were victims of some bad fortune.

Aceves and James Loney battled in the first at-bat of the inning. Loney worked the count full, and then walked when Aceves missed with a back-door breaking ball.

Two batters later, Leslie Anderson drilled a line drive down the right-field line. Loney was held up at third, though, and that proved to be costly.

With runners at second and third, Chris Gimenez hit a hard grounder to Drew Sutton at third base. Loney was off on contact, and Sutton easily threw him out at home for the second out of the inning.

The 5-2 putout resulted in runners at first and second for Cole Figueora. The Rays infielder bounced a knee-high chopper to second base that Brock Holt took care of.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-2: Roberto Hernandez has settled down after a very rocky start, and he’s now retired seven of the last eight hitters. That includes a perfect, 1-2-3 fourth inning.

Hernandez retired Mauro Gomez, Drew Sutton and J.C. Linares in order. Gomez and Linares were both victims of strikeouts, while Sutton was sent back to the dugout following a flyout.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-2: Sean Rodriguez has given the Rays their first sign of life.

Desmond Jennings dropped down a bunt single with one out, and Rodriguez then lifted an Alfredo Aceves offering over the fence in left to cut into Boston’s lead.

Matt Joyce grounded out and Luke Scott flew out, but not before the damage was done.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Roberto Hernandez improved in the third inning, and despite allowing a two-out hit, he kept the deficit at three runs.

Jose Iglesias, who singled in his first at-bat, struck out swinging for the first out. The scorching Jackie Bradley Jr. then grounded out to second, before Ryan Lavarnway singled into left field on a 3-2 pitch.

Lyle Overbay, who drove in Boston’s first two runs, threatened to extend the lead with a shot into left, but Leslie Anderson raced back near the warning track to make a nice play.

End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: The Red Sox had a little mishap of their own in the bottom half of the second inning, but it was far less damaging. In fact, it wasn’t damaging at all.

After Ryan Roberts flew out to right field, Leslie Anderson popped one up in the infield. Alfredo Aceves sized it up while 700 other people seemed to do the same. In the end, too many cooks were in the kitchen, confusion ensued, and the ball dropped. Fortunately for the Red Sox, though, Anderson was thrown out trying to take second.

Chris Gimenez popped out to end the inning.

Jose Iglesias, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Lavarnway will face the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona in the third inning.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: The Red Sox took advantage of a Rays miscue in the second to extend their lead to 3-0.

Drew Sutton struck out swinging, and J.C. Linares hit a groundball that looked to be the second out. Rays third baseman Ryan Roberts airmailed the throw, though, and Linares was able to reach base and scamper up to second.

Ronald Bermudez, who had just one spring training at-bat entering the game, followed up with a base hit into center field that scored Linares.

Bermudez was thrown out trying to steal second for the second out of the inning, and Brock Holt flied out to left to end the frame.

End 1st, Red Sox 2-0: The Rays got a tough break in the first inning.

Sean Rodriguez hit a one-out single into center after Desmond Jennings flew out to begin the inning. Two batters later, the Rays nearly got on the scoreboard, but a few inches kept it a 2-0 Boston lead.

Luke Scott hit a flyball down the left-field line with two outs. The ball dropped fair on the line, kicking up chalk in the process, but it bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double.

That gave the Rays a second-and-third situation, but Rodriguez likely would have scored if the ball didn’t bounce over the fence.

James Loney stepped up to try and make sure it didn’t matter, but his hot smash back up the middle was gloved by Alfredo Aceves, who tossed over to first to escape the jam.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 2-0: Lyle Overbay just boosted his stock a little bit.

After Brock Holt led off the inning by grounding out to Sean Rodriguez at second base, Jose Iglesias and Jackie Bradley Jr. connected on back-to-back singles. Iglesias’ dropped in front of Matt Joyce in right field, while Bradley’s was smacked into center.

Ryan Lavarnway — who I mentioned needs to elevate his game — hit a slow groundball to third. Ryan Roberts gobbled it up, but his only play was at first base, which allowed both Iglesias and Bradley to advance.

Lyle Overbay ensured the Red Sox came away with a couple of runs. He ripped a line drive into right field, which plated both Iglesias and Bradley.

FYI, Bradley is now 16-for-32 this spring. Yikes.

1:05 p.m.:  And here we go…

1 p.m.: Before we get down to business, I should point out — in case you missed it — that the Red Sox made a few roster moves on Friday night.

The Sox optioned Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson and Dan Butler to Triple-A Pawtucket, and they optioned Christian Vazquez to Double-A Portland.

12:55 p.m.: We’re coming up on game time in Port Charlotte, and there are two players in the starting lineup who we should all keep an eye on throughout the rest of spring: Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway.

Each player has seen his stock drop over the past year or so, but each is now presented with a golden opportunity.

With Stephen Drew still battling symptoms of his concussion, it’s legitimate to question whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day. If he isn’t, Pedro Ciriaco or Brock Holt will likely become the starting shortstop, but Iglesias really has a chance to show what he’s made of over the next couple of weeks. If he can continue to make strides offensively, he could give the Red Sox something to think about, even if they do what is expected and send him back down to Triple-A.

Lavarnway, on the other hand, looked destined for more time in Pawtucket after the Red Sox signed backup catcher David Ross this offseason. With David Ortiz struggling to get healthy, though, the Sox may be scrambling for DH options come Opening Day. Lavarnway can really toss his name into the mix with a solid end to the spring, although Friday’s 0-for-5 effort against the Orioles was certainly less than impressive.

11:10 a.m.: Alfredo Aceves isn’t the only Red Sox player back in the mix after playing in the World Baseball Classic. Shane Victorino figures to join the team soon after USA’s elimination at the hands of Puerto Rico on Friday.

Victorino won’t be in the lineup on Saturday, though. The Boston outfield will instead be patrolled by J.C. Linares, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ronald Bermudez.

The rest of Saturday’s lineups are below.

Red Sox
Brock Holt, 2B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr, CF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Mauro Gomez, DH
Drew Sutton, 3B
J.C. Linares, LF
Ronald Bermudez, RF

Alfredo Aceves, P

Rays
Desmond Jennings, CF
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Matt Joyce, RF
Luke Scott, DH
James Loney, 1B
Ryan Roberts, 3B
Leslie Anderson, LF
Chris Gimenez, C
Cole Figueroa, SS

Roberto Hernandez, P

8 a.m. ET: Alfredo Aceves returned from the World Baseball Classic earlier this week, and he’ll get the start against the Rays on Saturday.

Given Aceves’ rather unpredictable behavior, there’s been a lot of debate and speculation about the right-hander’s future in Boston. Still, it’s hard to dispute the fact that when all is right, he can be a very valuable component, particularly because of his ability to wear a number of hats. Aceves figures to be part of Boston’s bullpen, but he’s proven that he can also start, and the Red Sox might need him to do both at some point this season.

Franklin Morales was expected to be Boston’s spot starter after performing well in the role down the stretch last season. He’s been sidelined throughout all of camp, though, and he has been ruled out indefinitely because of a bulging disc in his lower back. With him on the shelf, it’s likely that manager John Farrell will turn to Aceves if the team needs a spot start here and there.

Saturday will mark Aceves’ first Grapefruit League outing since returning from the WBC, but he did pitch in a minor league game on Wednesday. Aceves threw 14 pitches (seven for strikes) while allowing one run on one hit and a walk in one inning in that game.

Aceves is scheduled to be followed by Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard on Saturday.

The action is scheduled to kick off at 1:05 p.m. ET, so be sure to stick around.

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