By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Boston Red Sox got another spring training win yesterday as they rallied over the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 4-3 victory. Hector Velazquez put them in a hole early as he broke down in his third inning of work and allowed Pittsburgh to jump out in front 3-0. Velazquez, who is pitching for a spot in the big leagues, worked two and a third innings while giving up three runs on five hits and a walk. He also picked up one strikeout.
After getting out of trouble in the first and picking up a one-two-three second inning, Velazquez couldn't handle the third. He allowed a double to Kevin Newman to lead off the inning, followed by a Sean Rodriguez single to the third baseman, Ivan De Jesus. De Jesus wasn't doing his pitcher any favors as he committed a throwing error that allowed Newman to score. More and more miscues seem to be piling up for the Sox, so they'll really need to continue to get extra infield work.
After the error, Rodriguez swiped second base. He'd move to third on a groundout and then score on an RBI single by Starling Marte. Marte then did some stealing of his own, as he ended up taking second. Holding runners on and throwing them out trying to steal seems to be an issue that has cropped up for Boston this spring as well. Despite their 6-1 record so far, there are always things to work on.
Pittsburgh's Josh Bell singled to left which drove in Marte for the third run of the inning. Velazquez was promptly pulled from the game and replaced by Trevor Kelley, who was able to get out of trouble. The Pirates starter, Chad Kuhl, stayed out of trouble in two clean innings of work. It was the man who replaced him, Trevor Williams, who would allow Boston to get on the board and start the comeback.
In the bottom half of the third, Williams got the first two batters to strike out swinging. He then allowed a single to Austin Rei and walked Brock Holt before Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate and doubled to knock in Rei. Williams got pulled right after and Damien Magnifico escaped the inning for the Pirates.
In the bottom of the fourth, Boston would come back with another run to draw closer. Magnifico started the inning by getting Sam Travis to fly out to center, but he then walked three straight batters to load the bases with one out. Pittsburgh went to the bullpen again, this time calling on Tyler Jones to attempt to do better. Considering that he came in with the bases loaded, Jones did alright. He allowed a sac-fly to the first batter to make it 3-2 but then avoided anyone else crossing the plate in the inning.
The next two and a half innings would be scoreless before the Sox came to bat in the bottom of the seventh. Kyle Crick was entering the game on the mound and he'd ultimatley be the man who drew the loss. Crick let up a single to the first batter before uncorking a wild pitch to put a man on second. He'd grab a strikeout, give up a single and then grab another strikeout to have runners on the corners with two down. The man on first, Jhon Nunez, stole second base to put both runners in scoring position. All the Sox would need was a single to take the lead, but instead they got a double from Brett Netzer and it was 4-3 Boston. That score would hold up the rest of the way and Boston's Robby Scott would get the win, with Kyle Hart getting the save.
Today's game will be at Houston, who has started out 5-2 this spring. Sox manager Alex Cora will be visiting the team he won a World Series with last season as their bench coach. The Sox will be facing the team that bounced them from the playoffs in rather embarrassing fashion. Cora is bringing a lot of regular big leaguers to West Palm Beach and putting them in the lineup against Houston because he wants to motivate his club and remind them that the Astros are the team to beat and they have to take this seriously. Even though it's an exhibition game, Cora thinks it is important for his club to remember what Houston did to them last year and go out and try to win the ball game. I'm excited about a lot of what Cora has done and said so far this spring and this is another example of that.
First pitch against Houston is scheduled for 1:05.