The Red Sox have their first Grapefruit League victory out of the way--an 8-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, whose five-run ninth was not enough to overcome Boston's huge lead.
The story for the Red Sox in the first couple of innings was a positive performance from starting pitcher Felix Doubront. Despite the early date, Doubront wasn't content to stick to just his fastball, and the result was a fair few off-balance Orioles. The lefty would retire the first two batters he faced by way of the strikeout, picking up a third K in his second scoreless inning of work. A Delmon Young single in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. was the only blemish on two strong innings of work.
Brian Matusz didn't have much more trouble in his two innings of work. Though both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts would manage singles, they were isolated threats, with neither man so much as advancing to second base. It was only with the entrance of each team's third pitcher of the day that the bats started to get heated up.
Initially, it looked like the Orioles would be the ones to draw first blood. Alex Wilson was leaving everything letters-high in the fourth inning, and when Steven Pearce hit a long fly ball to left after Delmon Young's wall ball double, it was only an effective Jonny Gomes deke (intentional or not) that held Young at third as the ball scraped the wall on its way down.
Wilson would manage to escape the inning unharmed, however, which is more than can be said for Eduardo Rodriguez, who took the mound for Baltimore in the bottom half of the inning. It did not take long for the Red Sox to get to him, with David Ortiz drawing a walk, and then scoring as Mike Napoli hit one of his patented towering homers to dead center field. The Sox would not rest on their laurels, either, with Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, and Jonny Gomes leading off the fifth with a double and two singles respectively, ultimately doubling Boston's lead to 4-0.
The Orioles would threaten to get back into the game when the arrival of numerous backups resulted in a mess of a sixth inning, but the Sox managed to escape with just one run surrendered, and immediately returned fire in the bottom half of the inning with Xander Bogaerts doubling and Jackie Bradley Jr. singling him home. Hopefully a sign of things to come (for many years yet).
The Red Sox continued to pour it on with what seemed like three unneeded runs in the eighth, but those would actually end up being the difference between the two teams after nine, thanks to an unfortunate outing for prospect Keith Couch. By the time the ninth was over, the Orioles had added five more runs to their total, ultimately coming up just shy at 8-6.
Late-game shenanigans aside, however, the Red Sox can call this a very succesful game. The major league players had solid performances throughout, with Will Middlebrooks the only regular not to reach base safely. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley both got to show off what they can do, while Felix Doubront built on the positive vibe he established by arriving at camp in shape. Edward Mujica even had a perfect debut inning with his new team.
Add in the return of Don and Jerry with the first NESN-broadcast game of the year, and you've got a pretty nice way to spend an afternoon.