David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval flexed their muscles Thursday in the Boston Red Sox’s 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla. The Red Sox now have won seven straight spring training contests.
The Red Sox, who pounded 18 hits in Wednesday’s win over the New York Yankees, only produced six knocks in Thursday’s victory. But two were big flies, giving Major League Baseball a taste of what could become a common occurrence this season if Boston’s offense fires on all cylinders.
Let’s run down some notes from Thursday.
— Ortiz and Sandoval blasted a pair of home runs in the third inning. Sandoval’s long ball was his first homer in a Red Sox uniform.
“I’m trying to get my timing going,” Sandoval told reporters. “That’s what I was looking for, especially after a couple of days off. You work on those things and try to get better and better at the plate.”
— Simply put, the Red Sox’s offense stunk last season. Don’t expect the same in 2015.
“It’s got the ability to be a quick-strike offense in certain situations,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after the game. “That was the case today. I think with more frequency of at-bats, more games where we’ve got our lineup together, that trust continues to build.”
— Shane Victorino returned from a bout with general soreness. He went 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored out of the leadoff spot.
Victorino still holds the inside track on the Red Sox’s right field job, according to Farrell.
— Clay Buchholz, who started the game, had a front-row seat for Boston’s offensive fireworks. Needless to say, he was impressed.
“Looking up and down the lineup today, man, this sort of reminds me of ’07,” Buchholz told reporters.
Yeah, that ’07 team was pretty good.
— Buchholz navigated through a first-inning jam and allowed only one unearned run over three frames.
Buchholz surrendered four hits, struck out two and walked one.
“For the most part, it was a good day,” Buchholz said.
— Eduardo Rodriguez had another positive outing despite running into trouble in his third inning of work.
Rodriguez allowed three hits and struck out four over 2 2/3 innings.
“He didn’t let men on base speed things up on him. He showed good poise,” Farrell said. “He used all three pitches to get key outs and strikeouts with men in scoring position. I was impressed with the poise.”
— Alexi Ogando also had a strong relief appearance.
The veteran right-hander tossed a scoreless inning and seems to have a stranglehold on a spot in Boston’s bullpen provided he stays healthy.
“If we get him to previous levels — or close to previous levels — in terms of arm strength, production and get him through spring training healthy, it could be one of the keys to our camp,” Farrell said. “What he means to our bullpen. The ability to attack quality right-handed hitters that our division is going to present. He has a chance to make a huge impact on this team.”
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images
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