Boston Red Sox left fielder Ryan Sweeney hits a sacrifice fly scoring second baseman Oscar Tejeda (not pictured) during the top of the third inning of a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. (Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)
With Jon Lester off making a start in an unofficial B-game featuring innings that ended after two outs and other fun spring quirks, the Red Sox turned to a rag-tag group of relievers, minor leaguers, and bit part pitchers to go nine innings against a Blue Jays lineup likely not far off from their opening day bunch. For their part, they did a pretty good job of things, too. Working around a leadoff single from Omar "Comin' " Vizquel and a plunked Jose Bautista (which, frankly, might just be good strategy), Justin Germano induced three ground balls to end the first before tossing a perfect second frame.
The names in the Red Sox' lineup were not quite so impressive, but did manage to strike first, as minor leaguers Juan Carlos Linares and Oscar Tejeda led off the third inning with singles off of Darren Oliver. The 41-year-old hurler would manage to get Mike Aviles to pop out (he kept his hitting streak alive with a double in the first inning), but surrendered a sacrifice fly to Ryan Sweeney to break the scoreless tie before escaping the inning.
The Jays would not be down for long, however. Stepping to the mound with no semblance of control, former Pirate Justin Thomas would give up a single, hit Omar Vizquel with a pitch, and then walk Kelly Johnson to load the bases with no outs. With Jose Bautista coming to the plate Thomas seemed doomed, but this time glory would escape Joey Bats, who could only pop the ball up for an easy out. Taking down the reigning MVP, however, did not seem to intimidate Edwin Encarnacion, who quickly sent a single into left that winded up scoring three runs thanks to an error from Cody Ross.
Facing a rare deficit, the Red Sox went straight back to work in the fourth. This time facing Francisco Cordero, the Sox received singles from Lars Anderson and Kelly Shoppach in between a David Ortiz pop-up and Oscar Tejeda strikeout. A wild pitch from Francisco Cordero would allow both men to move into scoring position, which proved all-important when Vizquel misfired on Juan Carlos Linares' ground ball, allowing the tying runs to come home on the error.
From there, both teams would tighten up. Mark Melancon and Junichi Tazawa would throw a scoreless inning a piece, with Tazawa giving up a hit and Melancon recording both a walk and a strikeout. With neither team managing to push across another run, and nobody particularly interested in extra spring baseball, the sides called it a 3-3 tie after nine innings.
Meanwhile, in the B-game, the Red Sox kind of beat the Twins 4-1. I say "kind of" because it's hard to really call it a victory when Jon Lester throws 34 pitches through two outs in the second inning, prompting the teams to end the inning there and let him come back out for a few more tosses in the third. Still, Jose Iglesias picked up a couple hits, and Will Middlebrooks tossed in a double.
Also pitching were Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, and Drake Britton. Albers and Atchison both had clean innings, with Albers throwing two with a pair of strikeouts to match. Drake Britton would allow the Twins' only run on three hits in his two innings of work.
No The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly today since without any broadcasts there's only so much to talk about.