Postgame, Rays 8-6: On a day dominated by the Nomar Garciaparra announcement and memories of an old star, the Sox got a little boost from a current one as Jacoby Ellsbury breaks out against the Rays.
In a losing effort Ellsbury snapped out of a little spring funk with home runs in consecutive innings. The first was a solo shot and the second a two-run bomb which pulled the Sox to within one run at the time.
Couple Ellsbury’s effort with that of Jon Lester and Boston’s first loss in the last 11 games at City of Palms Park doesn’t hurt a bit. The Sox travel to Port St. Lucie for a 1:05 p.m. meeting with the New York Mets on Thursday. John Lackey is slated to get his second start of the spring.
Rays 8-6, Final: The Sox put up no fight in a three-minute ninth inning and the streak is over.
Alan Mills will get the loss after imploding in the fourth, but Boston has to feel a bit better about Jon Lester’s outing.
Coming off a rough spring debut, Lester looked pretty sharp and gave up only an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay improves to 7-1 in Grapefruit League play. The Red Sox fall to 5-3.
Mid 9th, Rays 8-6: Some nice stuff from Daniel Bard in the ninth, granted it came against some of the Rays lesser bats.
Showing his electric fastball and a damaging changeup, Bard struck out the first two batters he faced.
He threw a nasty breaking ball to Angel Chavez before the Tampa Bay third baseman gave Bard’s next pitch a little bit of a ride. Ryan Kalish was able to track it down, however, and the Rays go 1-2-3.
End 8th, Rays 8-6: The Sox are doing nothing against Heath Phillips, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 with the White Sox.
A lefthander, Phillips has thrown three scoreless innings and the Sox are down to their last three outs in an effort to keep alive this City of Palms streak.
The last time Boston won 10 straight spring training games was 1979. The place is dripping with drama.
Mid 8th, Rays 8-6: Catching prospect Luis Exposito is said to have a strong arm, and he just proved it by throwing out Justin Ruggiano attempting to steal second.
The play helped Ramon S. Ramirez avoid any trouble after giving up a leadoff single. Ramirez has four strikeouts in three scoreless innings this spring.
Exposito will probably open the season as the starting catcher at Class AA Portland. He hit .337 in 23 games there in 2009.
End 7th, Rays 8-6: In his first at-bat since his game-winning home run Monday, shortstop Jose Iglesias grounds out.
Iglesias will be under a watchful eye in his first full year in the system, mostly to see how he can handle the bat. The Sox know his glove is exceptional and his defensive game will just need some refinement before becoming major league-ready.
Early returns at the dish are pretty favorable. In addition to his home run to end Monday’s game against St. Louis, Iglesias has a single in seven at-bats, and he ripped a three-run double in the annual matchup with Boston College, for what it’s worth.
Mid 7th, Rays 8-6: Hideki Okajima comes on and sets down three minor leaguers in order. Things have calmed down a bit here.
Daniel Bard and Manny Delcarmen are the two remaining pitchers listed on the Sox’ list of probables for this one who have not been used.
End 6th, Rays 8-6: Celebrating his 26th birthday, Aaron Bates is caught looking to end the sixth. The strikeout strands Tug Hulett at second base.
Hulett had doubled with one out.
On a side note, the Sox currently have a 10-game winning streak at home during spring training, tied for the longest in the team’s Floridian history.
A win today means history.
Mid 6th, Rays 8-6: No major issues for Jonathan Papelbon in the sixth, although he did allow his first hit of the spring, a single with two outs by Matt Joyce.
Joyce also stole second base but was left right there when Papelbon got Angel Chavez to ground out.
The Red Sox closer has thrown three scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action.
End 5th, Rays 8-6: The Sox go quietly in the fifth against Grant Balfour, who is hoping to rebound from an up-and-down 2009 season.
Marco Scutaro grounded out and Mike Cameron flied to center before Ryan Kalish drew a walk. Darnell McDonald’s groundout ended the frame, just the fourth out of 10 total to not see a run scored.
Jonathan Papelbon is in for the Sox.
Mid 5th, Rays 8-6: We are halfway through this one and the teams have already combined for 20 hits.
Tampa Bay gets another run back when Justin Ruggiano singles in Ryan Shealy.
Shealy had doubled with one out off Brian Shouse, the fourth pitcher of the game for the Red Sox.
We expect to see Manny Delcarmen next on the mound for Boston.
End 4th, Rays 7-6: Jacoby Ellsbury hit eight home runs last year. He has two in less than an hour against the Rays.
This time there’s a man on when Ellsbury goes deep. Dusty Brown had singled to lead things off.
Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to improve to 5-for-11 this spring.
2:54 p.m.: In meeting with the media after his outing, Jon Lester talked about his distaste for the maple bats, which break with regularity and caused Rays starter David Price to leave the game.
Lester said it’s just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt by the bats. Maple wood is used by more and more major leaguers and the number of broken bats has skyrocketed.
“It [stinks] that Major League Baseball hasn’t done something with the maple bats,” Lester said.
Price suffered an abrasion on his right hand when an Adrian Beltre bat shattered in the second inning.
Mid 4th, Rays 7-4: The Rays erupt for six runs against Adam Mills, who is not having a very good spring in his effort to impress the big club.
The first six men reached before Gabe Kapler gave the Sox an out, just for old time’s sake. The big hits were a two-run single by Reid Brignac and a two-run double by Jason Bartlett. Ben Zobrist followed Kapler’s out with a run-scoring hit.
Entering the game, Mills had allowed four runs — three earned — in two innings this spring. He was finally replaced with two outs in the inning after a double by B.J. Upton, the 10th man to bat.
Robert Manuel comes on to get the last out.
End 3rd, Red Sox 4-1: A few posts after I point out that Jacoby Ellsbury is off to a slow start this spring he hits a home run down the line in right.
It was one of a series of hard hits for the Sox off Joe Bateman in the third. Dustin Pedroia followed up Ellsbury’s blast with a single. One out later, Kevin Youkilis gets his first RBI of the spring with a double that drives in Pedroia.
Boston then loaded the bases with two outs but strand all three.
2:08 p.m.: The update on David Price is a favorable one for the Rays. The lefty has an abrasion on his right hand (the better of the two hands to have cut) and was seen waving to fans with a wrap on the hand.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Jon Lester is taken out after getting the first two outs of the third inning, ending on a great note.
Lester struck out Ben Zobrist, his fourth punchout of the afternoon, before manager Terry Francona came to get him.
The Rays managed just an unearned run off Lester in 2 2/3 innings.
Adam Mills came on to get the last out, stranding Jason Bartlett at second base.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: The Sox get a pair of runs after the scary moment involving David Price.
Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre, who reached when his bat took out Price, both came in. Youkilis was plated by a Mike Cameron single and Beltre scored on an RBI groundout by Bill Hall.
1:40 p.m.: If you are a pitcher, you do not want to face the Red Sox this spring. Not because they are knocking the cover off the ball, but because pitchers are falling like flies against them.
First it was Twins closer Joe Nathan, who left an outing against Boston last week and may miss the season with a torn ligament in his elbow.
Now David Price, the prized lefty for the Rays, is forced to exit after the sharp part of a broken bat cuts his right arm. The bat swung by Adrian Beltre shattered and the jagged edge flew at Price, who had no chance to get out of the way.
The 24-year-old Price remained on the ground for a bit and then was ushered off with a towel to help stop the bleeding. Joe Bateman is on in relief.
Price was nearly hit by Kevin Youkilis’s single the batter before.
Mid 2nd, Rays 1-0: A much better showing from Jon Lester in this one after his difficult debut last week.
Lester has fanned three through the first two frames, allowing a single and a walk. The run in the first inning was unearned.
We’ll see the lefty for another inning or so.
End 1st, Rays 1-0: David Price slings a 1-2-3 inning and we are through one in a heartbeat.
Not that it means much, but Jacoby Ellsbury is now 1-for-10 this spring.
Mid 1st, Rays 1-0: Jon Lester gets done in by a pair of Red Sox errors and the Rays are on the board first.
After Jason Bartlett reached to lead things off, he attempted to steal second base and reached third when catcher Dusty Brown’s throw sailed into center.
Bartlett then scored when Adrian Beltre threw a ball away. Beltre was able to rebound and make a play moments later for the last out.
It seemed as if the Sox third baseman didn’t have his feet set. The fans won’t be kind at Fenway if and when they see more of those.
1:10 p.m.: Just to add a little color to the nice Nomar Garciaparra ceremony before the game, he was sporting his traditional No. 5 Red Sox jersey when he went to the mound to throw the first pitch to Jason Varitek.
Carl Beane, the public address announcer, gave the old introduction we heard many times at Fenway Park: “The shortstop, number five, Nomar Garciaparra.”
Quite a day for Nomar.
1:03 p.m.: Temperatures are near 80 as we get to see two of the AL’s best young lefties go at it in Jon Lester and David Price.
Nomar Garciaparra, who announced his retirement as a member of the Red Sox this morning, just tossed out the first pitch.
The Rays are 6-1 this spring and throw out the following lineup against Lester:
Jason Bartlett, SS
Gabe Kapler, LF
Ben Zobrist, RF
Pat Burrell, DH
B.J. Upton, CF
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Kelly Shoppach, C
Ryan Shealy, 1B
Reid Brignac, 3B
9:27 a.m.: Terry Francona‘s lineup will feature Victor Martinez back in the No. 3 spot (and at DH) after a day off on Tuesday.
The Red Sox lineup is as follows:
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Victor Martinez, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Mike Cameron, CF
Bill Hall, RF
Dusty Brown, C
7:44 a.m.: Jon Lester‘s first spring start was a bit rough. He gets another chance to find the groove when the Red Sox host Tampa Bay at City of Palms Park.
The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. and we will take you through the contest right here as the Sox look to win their fourth straight Grapefruit League contest.
Lester gave up four runs on three hits in one inning of a 5-0 loss to Minnesota last week. He walked two and struck out one.
The Boston bats did not provide Lester and his fellow pitchers any support in that one, but they’ve been raking ever since. In a 4-1 stretch since the Lester loss, the Sox have outscored opponents 34-19.
Also expected to take the mound against the Rays is Brian Shouse, Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard. Lefty David Price will start for Tampa Bay.
The meeting is the second of six during spring training for the AL East rivals.