Final, Red Sox 5-1: Chris Carpenter — who will forever be known as the compensation the Red Sox received for Theo Epstein — gets the final three Rays in order to end the game. The final score of the exhibition goes to the Red Sox 5-1.
So, what to take from this game? Well, really there are two key players we’ll highlight.
First, the good: Jose Iglesias. The 23-year-old shortstops seems like he’s on a mission this spring to prove all the doubters wrong and show he can hit major league pitching. He gets two doubles on the day, giving him four extra-base hits on the spring so far, in 18 at-bats.
However, for Felix Doubront there is undoubtedly something left to be desired. The goal for the southpaw should have been to come in and pound the strike zone, but instead he walked the first batter he faced — yielding two free passes in his 1 2/3 innings on the hill — and couldn’t make it two full innings before hitting his pitch limit. That’s absolutely not the kind of aggression the team wanted to see from him early.
Well, we’re going to sign off of your Red Sox Live Blog for the day. However, be sure to tune in Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, as Boston will have a special matchup taking on team Puerto Rico in a scrimmage ahead of their first game on Friday in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic. There’s a ton of talent on that squad, so it should be a fun matchup.
In the meantime, if you’re so inclined you can follow this live blogger at @ZachStoloff to talk Red Sox and MLB any time. You may even get a cheap laugh or two.
End 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Christian Vazquez starts off the inning with a walk, but otherwise nothing doing in the latter half of the eighth for the Sox.
So, we’re onto the ninth, and what will undoubtedly be the final frame of the game. Remember, even if the Rays tie it up, like the NFL, spring training baseball games can indeed end in ties.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Okay, so a couple notes about the picture in the below tweet. Giant Glass is a company that specializes in auto windshields in the Boston area and commonly advertises with the Red Sox. We’re sure they make a great product, and the below tweet has no bearing on them as a company.
So, all that being said, enjoy, courtesy of Andrew Bailey:
Andrew Bailey (@AndrewBailey40) March 04, 2013
End 7th, Red Sox 5-1: Again the Gameday feed has decided to skip ahead on us, but in the bottom of the seventh the Red Sox score thrice, and it all began on Lyle Overbay’s second hit — and second triple — of the spring. A Jonathan Diaz double, Jackie Bradley Jr. being hit by a pitch and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt fill in the rest of the offense for the three-run outburst.
For Overbay, how he handles the bat will determine whether it’s him or Mike Carp who makes the Opening Day roster, so every at-bat is key. It’s something of a fluke that his only two hits are triples, but he’s helped his cause on Monday afternoon.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: The Rays go down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh there, with Hernandez throwing the perfect inning.
Hernandez has marginal major league stuff, but has showed good results this spring. That being said, it’s going to be hard for him to stick in the big leagues with a fastball that rarely moves above 87 miles per hour — that’s the kind of velocity we’re seeing from some of the lesser World Baseball Classic teams. It goes without saying that his southpaw status helps him, but the plain fact is that with a pitcher who relies so much on pitching to contact, he’ll have to be extremely fine to be successful in the show, and that’s a very fine line to walk.
End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Nothing doing there for the Red Sox, who go down in order, broken up only by a pitching change.
For Jeff Niemann, it’s a very positive outing. He’s competing for a spot in the Rays rotation, and although he’s being stretched out as a starter, the fact that he’s pitching in relief in the spring suggests he’s on the outside looking in. But after 2 2/3 innings, yielding three hits and just one run, he can feel good about his efforts on Monday afternoon.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Chris Gimenez doubles, but otherwise nothing doing for the Rays in the bottom half of the inning.
In fact, that’s the third uneventful at-bat for Wil Myers. Unfortunately we can’t tell you how comfortable he’s looked at the plate today, but we can tell you that, despite his status as the top prospect in all of baseball, he won’t be breaking camp with the Rays. Per their usual routine, they’ll undoubtedly wait until May, when Myers’ service time won’t be triggered, thus earning the team an extra year of Myers being under their control — basically one less year of arbitration.
Nonetheless, look for Myers to make a big impact once he does get called up — he’s too good not to do something with the bat. He’s a player who could end up making a huge impact on the ultra-competitive AL East.
End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Once again, in all caps this time: HOLY JOSE IGLESIAS.
This live blogger has been as skeptical as anyone of the shortstop’s ability to consistently hit major league pitching. But he’s certainly proving all the skeptics wrong this spring, knocking his second double of the day and fourth extra-base hit in 18 at-bats.
What more is there to say other than Iglesias has thoroughly impressed so far this spring, and jumping on pitches with aggression is just what the Red Sox were probably hoping to see from him in camp. Stephen Drew probably has the shortstop spot locked down, but Iglesias is absolutely putting himself in the major league picture with this showing.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Chris Hernandez comes on to relieve what was a very effective Doyle, and immediately hits Fontenot with a pitch. Nonetheless, Hernandez gets the next three batters to escape the inning without further incident, minus Fontenot stealing second.
Alright, are we caught up now? We think we’re caught up now.
As for Doyle, it’s another solid outing. The right-handed BC product has now thrown 6 1/3 innings on the season, allowing just two runs. Ultimately, he doesn’t project as a front-line major league starter, but Doyle could well carve a solid career in middle relief for himself if he can replicate what he’s been doing well this spring during the regular season. Like Jeremy Hellickson, who we saw earlier, Doyle doesn’t have overwhelming pure stuff, so he has to rely on command to be effective.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Well, once again it becomes necessary to remind that we are doing this live blog off of MLB’s Gameday feed. The reason this is relevant to admit is because apparently the feed was running slow, and subsequently decided to motor through the fourth inning to catch up.
In any case, Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled in the bottom of the frame and eventually scored on a double play hit into by Lyle Overbay, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
End 3rd, 1-1: Well, what did we say about Cust?
Once again, pretty much all Cust does is walk, strike out or hit home runs, and he begins a Rays rally in that last half-inning by working a walk off of Doyle. Figueroa comes up with the big hit to knock him in, and in the middle of it all uber-prospect Wil Myers grounds into a double play after striking out against Doubront in his first at-bat.
We’ll talk more about Myers at some point this afternoon, but for now we’ll just mention that, if you’re the Rays, Cust is showing exactly what you want. The team has other DH options around, such as Red Sox enemy Luke Scott, so Cust will really have to show something to the team to stick around with Tampa when camp breaks.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Holy Jose Iglesias.
The young shortstop has already been one of the early happy surprises in Red Sox camp. It’s clear where the 23-year-old’s progress needs to happen, and it’s all with the bat.
However, in that last half inning Iglesias knocked his third extra-base hit (a double) in 17 at-bats this spring. That makes him 5-for-17 on the campaign, in what has to be very heartening for the Sox to see in terms of his future. And really, for Iglesias to stick at the major league level, he doesn’t even have to hit well, necessarily, all he has to do is hit barely well enough to justify keeping his glove on the field.
But if he can continue hitting like he has this spring, getting regular playing time in future seasons won’t be an issue.
End 2nd, 0-0: Doyle yields a double to the versatile Sean Rodriguez but otherwise gets through the inning without incident.
So, let’s go back and revisit Doubront’s afternoon. In short, it was a bit of a disappointing outing for the left-hander.
With no pressure on the results, what the Red Sox would have liked to have seen from Doubront was for him to just throw strikes, even if they weren’t the best-located within the zone. Then, the idea would be after that pattern is established, to try and refine pitches and location. However, the whole key to that plan is that you have to throw strikes in the first place.
Instead, even this early in the spring, Doubront has trouble keeping to his pitch limit, and can’t get the requisite two innings. Instead of starting a new pattern, Doubront has already shown to be falling into old habits.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Okay, folks, here’s the point where it becomes necessary to divulge we’re doing this live blog off of Major League Baseball’s Gameday feed.
Doubront gets pulled after 1 2/3 innings, so we can only assume that he must have come near his limit of 35 pitches on the day — since we’re not seeing any Twitter talk to indicate he was pulled for any injury-related reasons. In any case, Boston College product Terry Doyle gets the final out after Doubront yields a double to Jack Cust and walks Cole Figueroa.
We’ll talk more about Doubront’s day coming up here, but how about Cust trying to make it back to the show? It figures that the DH/outfielder would wind up with the Rays, as the 34-year-old is a Moneyball wet dream. Think of Cust as Adam Dunn-lite, one of the most extreme “three true outcomes” players, racking up the walks, home runs and strikeouts by the bunch. Cust was relegated to Triple-A with three different organizations in 2012, but that double will certainly help his case to stick with the Rays.
End 1st, 0-0: Mike Carp gets hit by a pitch, but otherwise nothing doing for the Red Sox in that last half-inning. Hellickson looked good, fanning both Brock Holt and Jarrod Salatalamacchia, and he’ll be a key cog in the rotation for Tampa Bay behind David Price — particularly now that James Shields has been shipped off to Kansas City.
So, we’ve traded a couple zeros through the first inning; now on to the second!
Mid 1st, 0-0: Well, suffice to say that was not the way the Red Sox wanted to see Felix Doubront start things off. As we already talked about, pitch efficiency will be key for Doubront to take the next step as a pitcher in 2013, and what that means in the early spring is keeping things simple and pounding the zone — which he didn’t do to Mike Fontenot.
Nonetheless, Doubront picks himself up after the leadoff walk and gets the next three hitters in order to get out of the inning sans damage. In fact, with two popouts and a strikeout, Doubront looked pretty good after the first batter.
1:35 p.m.: We’re underway at Fenway South. And, for those who want to be made jealous, the weather down in Fort Myers is sunny and 65 degrees.
8:35 a.m.: Here are the lineups:
Brock Holt, 2B
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Mike Carp, DH
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Gomes, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mitch Maier, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Felix Doubront, P
Mike Fontenot, LF
Ryan Roberts, 2B
Sean Rodriguez, CF
Shelley Duncan, 1B
Jack Cust, DH
Chris Gimenez, C
Wil Myers, RF
Cole Figueroa, 3B
Tim Beckham, SS
Jeremy Hellickson, P
8 a.m. ET: So far the Red Sox have seen a lot of positives from four of the pitchers expected to comprise their starting rotation. Ryan Dempster and Jon Lester already have a couple of solid, uneventful starts under their belts, which is exactly what you want at this time of the year. Clay Buchholz made his Grapefruit League debut over the weekend, showing he’s recovered from a minor early-spring setback. And John Lackey may still be rounding into form, but he’s taken every step so far to show the Sox he’s all the way back from Tommy John surgery.
But we haven’t seen Felix Doubront (11-10, 4.86 ERA in 2012) yet — until Monday, that is.
The 25-year-old southpaw is set to take the hill in game action for the first time this spring, and he represents a very important, intriguing cog among the starting five. Everyone agrees that Doubront has the kind of big arm that can succeed as a starter — especially coming from the left side — but it’s also very clear what’s holding up his development at this point in his career. Pitch efficiency is Doubront’s biggest hurdle to overcome, and his ability learn how to finish off hitters and work deeper into games will ultimately determine his success at the big league level.
That being said, what the Red Sox will hope to see from Doubront on Monday afternoon is for him to forget about results and pound the strike zone. He’ll have plenty of time this spring to refine his location and pitches, but for now the goal ought to be to just try and throw strikes and otherwise keep things simple. Doubront came into camp slightly out of shape but has since caught up on the conditioning side of things, and he is set to throw 35 pitches or two innings.
Doubront and the Red Sox will take on the Tampa Bay Rays for the third time this spring. The former Devil Rays are set to start Jeremy Hellickson (10-11. 3.10 ERA in 2012). In two seasons in the big leagues, Hellickson has proven himself to be a quality big league starter despite underwhelming stuff — the 25-year-old is thoroughly a command pitcher. He’ll be making his second start of the spring.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m., but we’ll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, “all the stats and stories” leading up to the game. And for additional baseball analysis and witty quips you can follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff.