Okay, so he doesn't take the best picture in the world. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have kicked off their official spring training schedule with a sweep of their traditional doubleheader against the Northeastern Huskies and Boston College Eagles.
There were no shortage of fireworks for the Red Sox in their unbroadcasted first game against the Huskies. After Jon Lester started things off with a quick 1-2-3 first, the Sox got started on what would be a 5-homer, 25-run assault. While the Eagles were able to pick up a pair of outs on Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury, a 2-out rally loaded the bases for Darnell McDonald, who brought in two runs with a single.
The first would seem like a pleasant memory for the Eagles by the time the second inning ended. Cody Ross set the tone for the inning with a lead-off homer over the faux Monster in left field--a good sign for a Sox organization which is hoping he'll be able to abuse Fenway's odd dimension. Ellsbury brought in another run with a sac fly after a couple of hits by Will Middlebrooks and Iglesias, but it was Adrian Gonzalez who really opened up the inning, taking the beleaguered Michael Murphy deep for three more. The Sox would add another pair courtesy of Ryan Sweeney before the inning was over.
While the game was already over by the third, the Sox weren't prepared to stop swinging. After scoring a tenth run in the third, it was again Cody Ross swinging the big bat, launching a fourth inning grand slam to make it 15-0. Che-Hsuan Lin would follow that up with his own rare display of power, leaving the Eagles trailing by 17 after another long ball.
The Sox would add a couple more runs in between a pair of nice innings from Michael Bowden before finishing strong with a six-run sixth featuring a Ryan Sweeney shot to right field. While the Sox are likely pinning some of their hopes for Sweeney on his opposite-field tendencies, it's good to see him muscle a ball out to right, even against college pitching. When Matt Albers finished things off in the seventh, it was 25-0--a thorough demolishing.
Coming up against a lineup with a few more prospects and backups, the Boston College Eagles proved a bit more formidable. A fit-looking Felix Doubront got the start for the Red Sox, but was quickly left looking over his shoulder when Tom Bourdon managed to loop a leadoff single over Kevin Youkilis' head at third. Some quick reactions from Mike Aviles proved his undoing, however, as the Sox' presumptive Opening Day shortstop gunned down the outfielder at second.
After Doubront retired the next two batters, the Sox got their first opportunity against the Eagles pitchers, but couldn't get off to quite the start they did against the Huskies. While Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz were content to take free passes to first with two outs, Nick Punto grounded to short to end the threat and bring Doubront back out to the mound. The lefty would finish his night strong with a clean second inning.
Ryan Lavarnway was the one who actually got the Sox' attack going in the bottom half of the second, taking the first pitch of the frame back up the middle for a single. Walks to Josh Kroeger and Alex Hassan would load the bases for Mike Aviles, who got the Sox on the board with a 2-run wall-ball double to left. A groundout from Juan Carlos Linares would score a third run before a high ball got away from BC catcher Matt Pare, allowing a fourth run to come across.
Now down 4-0, the Eagles would not go quietly into that good night, striking back against Junichi Tazawa, starting his first full season since Tommy John Surgery. A single and stolen base for Rob Moir set up John Hennessy, whose sinking liner avoided Jason Repko's glove in left and brought in the Eagles' first run. While Taz would fight back by striking out Blake Butera, Tom Bourdon would keep things going for BC by picking up his second hit of the day--a long double that would lead to another run after a groundout.
Ryan Lavarnway would again be the catalyst for Boston in the third inning, doubling to left with one out and then scoring when Hassan singled to right to make it 5-2. The fourth would also prove productive for Boston when Juan Carlos Linares singled home Pedro Ciriaco--pinch running for Mike Aviles following another wall-ball double. While the Eagles would grab another run against Doug Mathis in the fifth, Chorye Spoone closed out the game with a scoreless seventh to secure the sweep for the Red Sox.
Opening Day is just one month away.