Red Sox-Marlins Live: Daniel Bard’s Struggles Open Door for Marlins to Grab 5-1 Win

Jackie Bradley Jr.Final, Marlins 5-1: The Marlins, owners of a stripped roster, might not win many games once the regular season begins, but they got the better of the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Miami scored three runs in the seventh, and then added two more in the ninth to secure a 5-1 win at JetBlue Park.

The Red Sox couldn’t stage much of a rally in the ninth. Pedro Ciriaco singled into left field, but in a shocking turn of events, Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded into a double play. Bradley finished the game 1-for-4 plus a walk, and his spring average is now .431.

Daniel Nava walked with two outs in the ninth, meaning he reached safely four times — three walks and a single. The Marlins squashed any further threat, though.

The biggest thorn in Boston’s side on Wednesday was Daniel Pertusati, who went 2-for-3 and drove in four of Miami’s five runs. Pertusati hit a two-run double to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead in the seventh, and he added insurance with a two-run single in the ninth.

The Red Sox’ lone run came on a home run by Jonny Gomes in the second inning. It was Gomes’ third blast of the spring.

Jon Lester got the start on Wednesday, and he capped off his impressive spring by twirling four scoreless innings. The next time he’ll toe the rubber will be on Opening Day in the Bronx.

Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Junichi Tazawa and Ryan Rowland-Smith followed Lester on Wednesday, and the pitchers had varying degrees of success — or lack thereof. Miller, Bailey and Tazawa each pitched a scoreless inning, while Bard surrendered three runs and Rowland-Smith gave up two.

Bard’s rough outing puts his spring ERA at 6.75, and it now seems all but certain that he’ll begin the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. The hard-throwing righty might find himself in Boston before long, but it’s clear there are still some things that need to be worked out.

The Red Sox will be back in action on Thursday, when they host the Twins in the first of three straight games between the Mayor’s Cup foes. The three games will close out Boston’s 2013 spring training slate.

Thursday’s game is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, and Clay Buchholz will get his final tune-up before the regular season. Coverage of the game can be found on NESN, so be sure to tune in, but also feel free to stop by here and show me some love.

Take care, everyone.

Mid 9th, Marlins 5-1: Boston’s task now seems a bit more insurmountable, as Miami tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth.

Ryan Rowland-Smith came on for the Red Sox, and the first two batters reached, setting the tempo for the inning. Chris Valaika singled, and Casey Kotchman reached on a field error by first baseman Mauro Gomez.

After Kyle Skipworth popped out and Wilson Valdez grounded out, Daniel Pertusati again proved to be a thorn in Boston’s side.

Pertusati, whose two-run double gave Miami a 3-1 lead in the seventh, delivered a two-run single into center to extend the lead.

Chris Coghlan ended the inning by striking out for the third time.

Pedro Ciriaco, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava are scheduled to bat for Boston in the ninth, and they’ll need four runs or else we’re done playing baseball for the day.

End 8th, Marlins 3-1: The Red Sox sent some powerful bats to the plate in the eighth, but there was nothing doing.

Will Middlebrooks popped out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out swinging. Salty is now 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in this one.

After the two quick outs, Jonny Gomes did his best to stage a rally by singling into right field. It proved fruitless, as Ryan Sweeney flew out to left field to end the inning.

Mid 8th, Marlins 3-1: Junichi Tazawa provided a quality inning in the eighth.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Ruggiano each grounded out. Tazawa then struck out Austin Kearns.

The Red Sox made some additional changes as well. Brock Holt, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco and Ryan Sweeney have come in. Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Jose Iglesias and Mike Carp have exited.

This will be Ciriaco’s first game action since March 14. He’s been dealing with back spasms.

End 7th, Marlins 3-1: The Red Sox put a couple of runners on in the seventh, but John Maine kept the Marlins’ two-run lead intact.

Jose Iglesias walked, and Jackie Bradley Jr. came up representing the tying run, but Bradley anticlimactically grounded into a force out.

Daniel Nava kept the pressure on by working a walk of his own. It also marked the third time he’s reached base in this one.

Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli each flew out, however, and Maine escaped the jam unscathed.

Junichi Tazawa will work the eighth for the Red Sox.

Mid 7th, Marlins 3-1: Daniel Bard has been vying for a spot on the Opening Day roster, but this outing likely ends his bid to start the season with the big club.

Bard gave up back-to-back singles to Austin Kearns and Chris Valaika, immediately putting himself in some trouble to begin the seventh.

Casey Kotchman moved both runners up, and then Koyie Hill lifted a sac fly to left field to tie the game.

With Wilson Valdez batting, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was charged with a passed ball that allowed Valaika to move from second to third with two outs. Valdez threw salt on the wound by working a walk.

That’s when disaster struck.

Daniel Pertusati smacked a two-run double into right field to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.

With the rough outing, Bard’s ERA balloons to 6.75. The hard-throwing righty has been making some strides, but he’s looked shaky of late. He also allowed three earned runs against Baltimore on March 19.

Bard was one of the major topics I addressed in this week’s mailbag. There has been plenty of talk as to where he’ll start the season, but as I noted, Triple-A seemed like the most logical destination. This outing all but ensures that fate.

Click here to read more about Bard’s spring >>

End 6th, Red Sox 1-0: John Maine replaced Kevin Slowey in the sixth. Maine had some control issues, but he ultimately kept the score the same.

Maine struck out the red-hot Mike Napoli before issuing back-to-back walks to Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Maine ensured the free passes wouldn’t come back to haunt him by striking out Jonny Gomes, who homered earlier in the game, and getting Mike Carp to pop out to short.

Daniel Bard will pitch the seventh inning for Boston.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 1-0: Andrew Bailey gave up a double in the inning, but he was otherwise solid.

Bailey struck out both Daniel Pertusati and Chris Coghlan swinging to begin the inning.

Adeiny Hechavarria picked up his second hit of the ballgame by doubling to left field, but Justin Ruggiano flew out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field to end the threat.

Bailey has now gone seven straight outings without allowing a run.

End 5th, Red Sox 1-0: The Jackie Bradley Jr. watch continues, so let’s get to that.

Bradley worked a one-out walk off Kevin Slowey in the fifth. He wouldn’t come around to score, though, as Daniel Nava popped out and Dustin Pedroia struck out to end the inning.

Prior to Bradley’s walk, Jose Iglesias — another guy who’s playing well — reached on a single. Iglesias was picked off, however, and that’s something he’ll need to clean up, as it isn’t the first time the slick-fielding shortstop has been nailed at first base this spring.

Andrew Bailey is coming on to pitch for Boston.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox went from one lefty to another and saw similar results.

Andrew Miller, who is also having a very nice spring, got Casey Kotchman to ground out before giving up a single to Koyie Hill.

After that, Miller buckled down, and he got Wilson Valdez to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

The one rarity of Miller’s outing — assuming he pitches just one inning — is that he didn’t strike anyone out. Miller struck out at least one batter in his last seven spring appearances. He struck out more than one hitter in four of those outings.

Overall, Miller has 12 K’s through 8 1/3 Grapefruit League innings.

2:48 p.m.: That will, in fact, do it for Jon Lester, and the book is officially closed on his 2013 spring training.

Andrew Miller will take over for Lester, who was solid yet again.

Lester threw 50 pitches (38 strikes) over four scoreless innings. He allowed two hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out four.

The next time Lester takes the mound, it will be in the Bronx, with the game counting for real. Get up!

End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: While the hashtag #JackieBradleyFacts started gaining steam on Twitter, the Red Sox threatened to add a run.

Mike Napoli, whose fly ball back in the first inning was victimized by the wind, doubled to center to kick off the inning.

Napoli is now batting .350 this spring, and him and Will Middlebrooks will really pose a dangerous 1-2 punch early on if they can carry some momentum into the regular season.

Middlebrooks followed up the double by walking, putting runners at first and second with no outs.

Kevin Slowey figured things out from there, though. He struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and then got Jonny Gomes to fly out and Mike Carp to pop out.

Now, back to that #JackieBradleyFacts hashtag. What do you all have for me? Send them along on Twitter (@TheRickyDoyle). I like being entertained.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: The top of the fourth saw more solid work from Jon Lester.

Lester retired the Marlins in order, bringing his spring ERA down to 0.75.

Justin Ruggiano lined out to Dustin Pedroia at second base for the first out. Lester then struck out Austin Kearns, and Chris Valaika flew out to Mike Carp in left field to end the frame.

That might actually be it for Jon Lester in this one, and it would cap off a fantastic spring training. In addition to the minuscule ERA, the lefty owns a 0.50 WHIP.

End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Jackie Bradley Jr. experienced a rare strikeout in the third. Oh, the horror.

In addition to that strange sight, Daniel Nava singled into right field, marking the second time he’s reached safely in this one.

Nava’s single came with two outs, as Jose Iglesias grounded out to third prior to Bradley’s strikeout. Dustin Pedroia ended the inning with a fly out to center.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Chris Coghlan must have taken offense to my little jab earlier. That’s the only explanation.

Coghlan, owner of a sub-.300 on-base percentage over the last two seasons, singled off Jon Lester with two outs. It didn’t matter, though. Lester bounced back to retire Adeiny Hechavarria on a ground ball back to the mound.

Before Coghlan’s hit, the recently signed Wilson Valdez grounded out to third and Gorkys Hernandez struck out swinging.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jonny Gomes makes it two straight games with a home run.

Gomes, who homered during a 12-9 slugfest on Monday, took Kevin Slowey deep to left field in the second inning.

The blast is Gomes’ third of the spring, and he’ll be heavily relied upon to keep providing pop, especially during the early part of the season with David Ortiz sidelined.

Before Gomes went deep, Will Middlebrooks flew out to center and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out.

Middlebrooks has been swinging a hot bat. His 17 hits are second behind Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 25, and the third baseman’s average now sits at .354.

Mike Carp, who is still playing for a job, ended the inning with a ground out to second.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Jon Lester must be getting bored.

Lester continued his spring dominance in the second inning by retiring Chris Valaika, Casey Kotchman and Koyie Hill in order.

End 1st, 0-0: Jackie Bradley Jr. started his day off in typical Jackie Bradley Jr. fashion.

Bradley smacked a line-drive single into center field to get the inning going. He’s now batting .455 (25-for-55) this spring.

Daniel Nava followed up Bradley’s hit with a walk, putting runners at first and second to begin the game.

The Marlins would gain two quick outs, though, when Dustin Pedroia grounded into a 1-6-3 double play, which moved Bradley over to third.

Mike Napoli flew out to right field to end the inning.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester is expected to pitch around four innings. The hope is to get the lefty between 60 and 70 pitches in his final tuneup before Opening Day.

Lester worked around a one-out single in the first inning to keep the Marlins off the board.

The always dangerous — and yes, I say that sarcastically — Chris Coghlan struck out swinging to begin the game, and Adeiny Hechavarria followed up with a single to the right side.

Hechavarria would later put the wheels in motion. After Justin Ruggiano struck out swinging for the second out, Hechavarria swiped second base with Austin Kearns at the plate.

Kearns couldn’t knock in the run, though. He grounded out to Jose Iglesias at short to end the inning.

1:38 p.m.: The action is under way in Fort Myers.

1:30 p.m.: It’s almost that time. You’ve still got a few minutes to fasten your seat belt, though.

11:42 a.m.: The lineup cards are in, and Red Sox fans will get another glimpse of Jackie Bradley Jr. This time, the hot-hitting outfielder will lead off for the hometown club.

Bradley didn’t record a hit on Tuesday, but that’s simply because the Red Sox had an off-day. Otherwise, Bradley probably would have been good for at least a couple. (If the rest of the spring is any indication.)

Bradley enters Wednesday’s game hitting .444 (24-for-54) with two homers, a triple, four doubles, 11 RBIs, 10 runs and eight walks. His average ranks third among Grapefruit League qualifiers, and his .523 on-base percentage is tops.

Bradley’s 24 hits this spring are far and away the most on the Red Sox. In fact, Will Middlebrooks holds the second-highest total, and he has 17. Over the last nine spring trainings, the only Red Sox player with as many hits as Bradley’s 24 was Chris Carter, who recorded 27 in 2009.

Yet, despite all of Bradley’s success, it’s still unclear whether or not he’ll make the Opening Day roster. He’s certainly done everything he could to earn a roster spot, but the debate rages on, although it’s becoming extremely hard to defend starting him anywhere other than the majors.

I wrote earlier this week about how Bradley’s spring performance will truly test the business of baseball. You can have a look at that by clicking the link below.

Click here to read about ‘The Decision’ >>

Not interested? That’s cool. But at least check out the lineups.

Red Sox
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jonny Gomes, DH
Mike Carp, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Jon Lester P

Chris Coghlan, CF
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Austin Kearns, DH
Chris Valaika, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Koyie Hill, C
Wilson Valdez, 2B
Gorkys Hernandez, RF

Kevin Slowey, P

11:15 a.m.: The Red Sox made a few roster moves on Wednesday, further trimming their big league squad as we head toward Opening Day.

Ryan Lavarnway has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while Anthony Carter and Jose De La Torre have been reassigned to minor league camp.

11 a.m.: Here’s a shocker: Jon Lester has been named Boston’s Opening Day starter.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Lester will toe the rubber when the Red Sox open up against the Yankees in the Bronx on April 1, but it has finally been confirmed. I guess it makes sense to announce the decision on a day when Lester is pitching.

This will be the third straight Opening Day nod for Lester, and it’s the third time overall that he’s been named Opening Day starter. Lester will be the first Red Sox lefty to make three straight Opening Day starts since Mel Parnell (1952-54). Babe Ruth is the only other left-hander to make three straight Opening Day starts for the Red Sox (1916-18).

Lester will be followed in the rotation by Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey.

8 a.m. ET: The Marlins will call the state of Florida home all season, but the Red Sox are nearing the end of their time in the Sunshine State. After Wednesday, all that separates Boston and the regular season is a three-game stretch against the Minnesota Twins.

Jon Lester will take the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday as they try to exact some revenge against the Marlins. The Fish earned an 8-7 walkoff win against the Sox on March 11.

Lester has been lights out this spring. He owns a 0.90 ERA (two earned runs in 20 innings), and he has 16 strikeouts to only four walks. The left-hander last pitched in a minor league game with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. He threw 100 pitches (59 strikes) over six innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out seven.

Lester is scheduled to be followed by Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey.

The action at JetBlue Park will start up at 1:35 p.m. ET, so why not keep it here for the duration of your afternoon? I’ll try to make it worth your procrastination.

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