By MyFM's Jake Archer - Another day, another win for the Boston Red Sox. They finished up a quick two-game set with the Chicago Cubs in Fort Myers by claiming a 4-2 victory. Boston ended the spring with the best record in baseball at 22-9, the first time they've done so since 1999. Everything has been clicking from the bats, to the pitching to the defense. The whole mood surrounding the team is positive and I think the culture change by Alex Cora and his staff has already been felt. I just pray that this carries over into regular season success.
In the final tune-up before the Sox head over to Fort Myers for Thursday's opening game of the season, Boston had Hector Velazquez making the start. Velazquez was pretty solid last year when he appeared at the major league level, but his spring has left a little bit to be desired. Still, with the injuries to Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez as well as the suspension of Steven Wright, Velazquez has found himself in the big league rotation to start the season.
Today was a good day for the righty as he pitched four innings while giving up only three hits and one walk and striking out two. He'll likely only get one turn in the Sox rotation to start the year but this performance was a good note to end on before taking the ball on Easter Sunday in Tampa Bay. Opposite Velazquez, the Cubs had one of their many aces, Jose Quintana, on the hill. The lefty went three innings while giving up only two hits and looks primed for another big season in Chicago.
The scoring didn't get underway until the bottom of the fourth when Justin Hancock came on for the Cubs. JD Martinez smacked a single to open the inning and was taken out for Jeremy Barfield to pinch run. After a one-out double by Andrew Benintendi put two runners in scoring position, Mitch Moreland grounded out to score Barfield. The next batter, Christian Vazquez, lined an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Things would stay quiet again until the bottom of the seventh when Luke Farrell (son of former Red Sox manager John Farrell) gave up a solo-shot to Jantzen Witte. The Cubs finally answered in the top of the eighth off of Tommy Layne when Mark Zagunis singled with one out to bring in Chesny Young. After Layne got the second out, he was replaced by Trevor Kelley. Kelley walked a batter to put runners at first and second and then gave up an RBI single to Chris Gimenez to make it 3-2.
Boston padded their lead in the bottom of the inning with two doubles off of Farrell. The 4-2 score would hold up and spring training was officially over. Velazquez picked up the win while Hancock got hit with the loss. Trevor Kelley grabbed a save for Boston as well.
Craig Kimbrel actually made a surprise appearance in the game as he replaced Velazquez to pitch the fifth. Kimbrel struck out the first two batters he faced on six pitches and then induced a fly-ball out on one pitch. It was good to see him get a little extra work after not facing a ton of opposing batters this spring.
The two-game meeting with the Cubs served as a kind of reunion as many former Red Sox are with Chicago. Theo Epstein and Jon Lester are of course some of the more notable names, but Brian Butterfield and Chili Davis are also a part of the Cubs coaching staff this year. It's always fun when these two historic clubs get together and face off.
Next up, it's the real deal. The Red Sox will open the season in Tampa Bay on Thursday the 29th of March. Chris Sale will be toeing the rubber against Chris Archer for the Rays. First pitch will be at 4:00 pm ET. Tune in here on MyFM!