By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Red Sox finished up a spring training win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday before going 0-2 on the weekend against American League East foes, New York and Baltimore. The win on Friday did provide what was possibly bad news for the Sox as well, with starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz exiting due to injury, so this wasn't exactly the best couple of days for Boston.
In that game Friday, the Sox traveled to Jupiter to face off with a Cardinals team that handed them one of their only losses to that point earlier in the week. Pomeranz would take the ball in his first spring start and roll through the first inning. He needed only 13 pitches to retire the side in order, but when he came out to warm up before the second, he felt an issue in his left forearm. He would stay on the mound to fire four pitches in to Cardinals slugger Marcell Ozuna before calling his catcher, Blake Swihart, to the mound. From there, Pomeranz talked with Swihart and a trainer before leaving the ball game.
Pomeranz has seemed to have quite a few of these scares in his past with Boston and other teams and more often than not, it results in nothing and he misses no time. On Saturday, he was re-evaluted and diagnosed with a mild flexor straing in his left forearm. All indications from him, the coaches and the medical staff are that he will be fine, so it looks like there isn't much reason to worry. He'll be evaluted again tomorrow and they'll go from there.
The man on the mound to start for St. Louis also exited with an injury concern. Bud Norris pitched two and one third innings while giving up five earned runs on four hits (two homeruns), walking one and striking out two. After allowing a solo shot to Andrew Benintendi and a two-run bomb to Sam Travis in the first inning, Norris got through the second unscathed. In the third though, he would walk the first batter and then allow a double to Benintendi to make it 4-0. Rafael Devers was next up and he rolled a grounder to the first baseman, Jose Martinez. Norris hustled over to cover the bag and felt a tug on his hamstring. It was the second time in the ballgame that Norris had felt the hamstring discomfort as he ran to cover first base and he called for the trainer before ending his day.
Sean Gilmartin entered to replace Norris with one out and Benintendi now standing at third. The first batter he saw, Blake Swihart, cashed in with an RBI single and then advanced to second on a fielder's choice. With two outs in the third, Rusney Castillo stepped to the plate and deposited a double into right field to score Swihart and make the lead 6. The Cards would need an answer.
In the bottom of the frame, Adam Lau was still on the mound after replacing Pomeranz and getting a 1-2-3 second. Lau walked the first batter, Greg Garcia, and then got Carson Kelly to fly out to center. Harrison Bader smacked a double to put two runners in scoring position and Kolten Wong grounded to the second baseman, Esteban Quiroz, for what should have been the second out of the inning. Instead, Quiroz committed an error that allowed Wong to reach, Garcia to score and Bader to end up at third. St. Louis was on the board at last.
Wong then took off to steal second, which prompted a throw from Swihart behind the plate. The throw was off target and Bader came home to make it 6-2. The errors keep piling up for the Red Sox and the opponents keep capitalizing on them. At this point, Tommy Pham singled home Wong to cut the deficit to 3. Pham then got hosed by Swihart as he attempted a steal, and Lau gave up a two-out double to Paul DeJong. Daniel Gonzalez entered the game to replace Lau and got Ozuna to strikeout swinging to end the inning.
In the fourth, Justin Haley replaced Gonzalez on the mound and got the first two batters on a flyout and a groundout. Garcia drew a two-out walk and Carson Kelly reached on another error, this time by third baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr. Bader stepped to the plate with two on and two out and ripped a double to right to cut into the lead again. At the end of the fourth it was 6-4 Boston and the Cardinals were on the comeback trail.
Boston came back with two in the fifth inning off of Gilmartin as Sam Travis smoked his second two-run shot of the game. Travis is a guy that needs to show some power in his development and this game certainly helped him out. St. Louis got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Tommy Pham tripled to start the frame and then scored on a Paul DeJong single to left.
The sixth and seventh inning were scoreless for both teams but the Sox tacked on a ninth run in the eighth. Dominic Leone came in for St. Louis and put a runner on first base with two outs. Tate Matheny, the son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, walked for Boston which put two men on with two out. Leone then threw a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position before allowing an RBI single to Steve Selsky.
The bottom of the ninth saw the Cardinals try to rally but they were only able to grab one run on a single by Edmundo Sosa to make it 9-6. Pomeranz picked up the win for the Sox, while Norris got dealt the loss for St. Louis. Sox manager Alex Cora pulled another classy move by allowing Tate Matheny to play the whole game as a DH so that his father could watch him all day. Matheny walked three times and scored a run.
On Saturday, the Red Sox finally met up with their chief rival, the New York Yankees. The Yankees traveled to Fort Myers and left most of their big name players behind, but they still picked up the 5-3 win over Boston. It was Brian Johnson against Chance Adams on the bump and luckily, both of these starters got through the game healthy. Johnson went two scoreless innings, giving up only two hits to New York. Adams pitched two scoreless as well, but gave up one hit and one walk.
In the third, hard-throwing reliever Joe Kelly came in for the Red Sox. He picked up one out before Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks launched a home run off of him to take a 1-0 lead. The Sox picked up a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth with two outs when Xander Bogaerts doubled and Brock Holt drove him home off of Justus Sheffield.
The sixth inning saw the Yanks take the lead back off of Heath Hembree. One of New York's top prospects, Gleybar Torres, doubled with one out and then advanced to third on a balk. After Danny Espinosa struck out swinging, Austin Romine singled home Torres to make it 2-1 Yankees. Boston tied it back up and took the lead in the bottom half of the inning off of Brady Lail. Mitch Moreland started the inning by roping a single to center, and he was quickly replaced on the basepaths by Tzu-Wei Lin. Ivan De Jesus Jr. stepped up and singled to put runners on the corners with no outs before Holt popped out in foul territory.
Boston's catcher, Sandy Leon, singled to right to score Lin and Selsky followed with a single to score De Jesus. It was 3-2 Boston heading into the eighth when Robby Scott came on and let it all unravel. Scott walked Espinosa and allowed a double to Kyle Holder to begin the frame. He got a flyout from Trey Amburgey, but then Jeff Hendrix doubled both runners home. Scott had given up the lead but he wasn't done. He walked the next batter and then got pulled with two on and one out. Teddy Stankiewicz came in and got the next two outs, but not before allowing another run to cross the plate on a single. The Yankees had beaten the Sox in their first meeting of 2018. The loss went to Robby Scott while the win went to Cody Carroll and Jonathan Holder was credited with a save.
Finally, on Sunday the Sox visited the Orioles in Sarasota. On the hill to start for Boston was Jalen Beeks, who went two and a third innings while giving up two runs on three hits, two walks and two punchouts. The Orioles countered with Gabriel Ynoa, someone the Sox have already seen this spring. Ynoa got absolutley toasted as he gave up six earned runs on seven hits (two homeruns), a walk and two strikeouts in two innings.
Ynoa started off the first inning hot as he K'ed Mookie Betts and Benintendi in back to back at-bats. The young third baseman, Rafael Devers, stepped up and smoked a double with two outs, followed up by a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk. Then the man who just keeps hitting, Blake Swihart, doubled to bring both runs home. In the second, Boston came right back and attacked Ynoa again. De Jesus Jr. led off with a single, followed by a Deven Marrero RBI double to make it 3-0. Ynoa got Betts on a groundout, but couldn't get by Benny Biceps again. Benintendi smoked a two-run homerun to right and Devers followed him with a solo shot to the same part of the park. It was 6-0 just like that.
Unfortunatley, another lead would be squandered by the Sox in what was a frustrating weekend. The Orioles put two men on against Beeks with on out in the third before Boston replaced him with Matthew Kent. Kent came in and allowed an RBI double to All Star centerfielder Adam Jones right out of the gate. Trey Mancini would then reach on a fielder's choice while Jones moved up to third and a run scored. Mark Trumbo grounded into a force out in the next at-bat, but Jones would score to cut the lead in half. In the fourth, the Orioles kept the comeback going and then some.
Chandler Shephard replaced Kent on the mound for Boston and got the first out quickly. Four straight hits by Caleb Joseph, Tim Beckham, Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado scored three runs to tie the game with a man on third and one down. After a mound visit resulted in Shephard staying in the game, Jones smashed another RBI double to take the lead and chase Shephard. Baltimore tacked on another run in the fifth via a Tim Beckham solo homerun and Boston grabbed a run in the sixth when Selsky hit a sac-fly.
The Orioles ended their offensive output for the day in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run ding dong by Pedro Alvarez to make it 10-7. Boston got their last run in the seventh after a triple and another sac-fly. Shephard took the loss while Baltimore's Andrew Faulkner got the win. Tanner Scott earned a save. The Sox finished up the weekend at 7-4 in Grapefruit League play. They have a day off today before they travel to face the Rays tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.