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Welcome to Sports of Boston’s brand new weekly review of the Boston Red Sox Spring Training. Each Sunday we’ll recap the previous week’s games, making sure you get all of the important details of each game. We’ll recap top hitters and top pitching performances from each and every game. So without further ado, here we go:
The week began with the Red Sox taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. Josh Beckett looked incredibly strong, going three innings without allowing a hit or a walk while striking out three. What followed was a dominating performance through the middle innings by the relief pitchers, until eventually some of the minor league relievers gave the lead away. All this did was set up the Red Sox for some timely hitting, as they put up five runs in the last two innings. The big heroes of the game were shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias, who hit a three-run home run in the eighth, giving Boston a temporary lead, and Josh Reddick, who drove in the tying run and scored the walk-off winning run in the ninth. The Red Sox won, 7-6.
The Red Sox followed up this win with a much more conventional defeat of the Florida Marlins, 9-0. Tim Wakefield went three strong innings, giving up just two hits, no walks, and no runs. Offensively, the name of the game was score early and often. The Red Sox put up runs in five of nine innings, including a 3-4 performance by Josh Reddick, who scored twice and drove in a run. Reddick is quietly making a push to be on the major-league bench for the Red Sox come Opening Day. Jeremy Hermida also had a two-hit day.
Wednesday saw the Red Sox lose to Tampa Bay, 8-6. However, there were many positives to draw from this defeat. The Rays did three quarters of their damage in one inning, against pitcher Adam Mills, who will most assuredly not be on the major league roster come April. Jon Lester went two and two-thirds innings, giving up just an unearned run. And none of the major league relievers gave up earned runs either. Take away Mills’ performance and you have another dominating pitching performance from the Red Sox. At the plate, the big story was Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 2-3, hitting two home runs and driving in three runs. Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia each chipped in with two hits as well.
On Thursday, Boston took on the New York Mets and won, 8-2. The Sox put up three runs in the first inning, then didn’t score until innings 6-8, where they put up five more runs. The big story of this game was John Lackey, who fired three more scoreless innings to add to his previous two. He has yet to be scored upon during this Spring Training. What we are quickly seeing is that Boston’s starting rotation is incredibly strong, as is its relievers. The question going into this regular season will be whether or not the rotation is strong enough to counter a potentially down offensive year from Boston’s hitters.
After a postponement against St. Louis on Friday, the Red Sox spent Saturday taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates. While kept off the board through the first six innings, the Sox scored three in the seventh and wound up winning, 3-2. Many of the characteristics of the other games this week were on display for this game as well. The starter, this time Clay Buchholz, went three strong innings without giving up a run. The relief staff also did incredibly well, particularly Jonathan Papelbon, who sports a nifty little 0.00 ERA this preseason.
The battle for the Mayor’s Cup continued Sunday with another battle against the Spring Training rival Minnesota Twins. Boston did its damage in the fourth and fifth innings, putting up six runs, which was enough to win, 6-4. Most of the hitters we’ve seen all week were once again strong from the plate. Dustin Pedroia went 2-3 with a run scored and an RBI, and Kevin Youkilis matched him in production. Jeremy Hermida also went 2-3. The pitching staff did its job, although none of the pitchers are likely to be seen in the Majors when April comes around. The winning pitcher was Ramon A. Ramirez, who despite walking four batters was only to get away allowing just one earned run.
Honestly, you can’t say too much about a week when your teams goes 5-1. The minor leaguers don’t look so hot yet, but the major leaguers look ready for the regular season (barring some time for the pitchers to stretch out their arms). Our starting rotation is going to be devastating this season. Our starting offense may be better than expected if we can get production like this out of Pedroia, Youkilis, and Ellsbury. And if Josh Reddick keeps up this pace he could be a menace on the bench. Check back next Sunday with all of the scores and all of the games from Ft. Myers. Until then!