Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox dropped their Grapefruit League opener to the Rays 4-3 despite a two-run shot from Jose Iglesias of all people.
The Rays got off to a quick start against John Lackey who, making his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John Surgery after the 2011 season, looked every bit his old self. He walked the first batter he faced, gave up a sharp ground ball single to the second, and then plunked the third to load the bases. Having got past the top three of Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce, however, Lackey saw the Tampa Bay lineup thin considerably, managing to strike Jack Cust out and get two fly balls from Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez to hold the Rays to just a run.
The second run for the Rays would come less due to poor pitching than poor play behind the plate. While Drake Britton was to blame for the leadoff double from Desmond Jennings, a dropped pop-up in foul territory behind third and an airmailed throw on a stolen base attempt--both by Jarrod Saltalamacchia--cost the Sox an out and allowed Jennings to come home and score the second run of the game for the Rays.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, were off to a very slow start at the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff walk was the only offense the Sox managed in the first couple of innings, and that was even erased by a double play ball from Shane Victorino. Will MIddlebrooks would get them their first hit in the third, but Boston's baserunners over the next few innings would be too scattered to result in any runs.
With Alex Wilson, Jose De La Torre, Anthony Carter, and Pedro Beato holding the fort on the mound, the Red Sox would finally break through in the seventh. While David Ross would start the inning off with a strikeout, Jeremy Hazelbaker reached base on a walk to bring Jose Iglesias to the plate. It had already proven an odd day for Iglesias, who made a rare throwing error to cost the Red Sox a baserunner in the top half of the inning, so when he put a big swing on a high pitch from Marquis Fleming and took it over the faux Monster in left for a two-run shot, it was a nice bit of redemption.
Unfortunately the tie did not last long. A poor performance from non-roster invitee Oscar Villarreal allowed the Rays to respond with a two-run shot of their own, courtesy of Leslie Anderson. The Sox would fight back in the ninth, with Xander Bogaerts staying on top of a breaking ball from Matt Buschmann and sending it back up the middle to bring Jeremy Hazelbaker home from second, but a strikeout from Daniel Nava brought out three and the end of the game.