While he only played for a short time today, all eyes at City of Palms Park were on new first baseman Adrian Gonzalez; playing his first game as a Red Sox
With Dustin Pedroia on and no one out, Gonzalez stepped in the batters box and received a standing ovation from the Red Sox fans down in Fort Myers. Gonzalez then took the first pitch he saw from Florida Marlins starter Josh Johnson and hit an opposite field single to left field. Red Sox fans breathed of relief: his shoulder did not fall off when trying to hit.
Meanwhile there were other players playing on Saturday
Just prior to the Gonzalez hit, Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first inning with a double off Johnson into right field. Seconds later, Pedroia drove him in on a single up the middle, putting the Sox up 1-0.
After cruising through the first inning, Red Sox starter John Lackey ran into trouble in the second inning after surrendering two singles to start the frame. Lackey gave up a two out RBI single to John Baker; equalizing the game at 1-1.
The Red Sox offense came back to life in the second inning when Jacboy Ellsbury drove in Mike Cameron and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to add to the score board total. After another single by Pedroia, Gonzalez stepped into the batters box for a second time; this time his at bat was more productive. Gonzalez hit a sac-fly to drive in Ellsbury--collecting his first RBI as a Red Sox and capping the second inning. Score: 4-1
After surrendering a run in the second, Lackey got into a grove as he retired every Marlin except three before exiting in the fifth inning. Lackey's performance today added to his already strong Spring Training (maybe it was the number change that did it?)
The Red Sox added more runs thanks to a Jacoby Ellsbury home run to right field in the fourth and Mike Cameron sacrifice fly; plating pinch-runner Daniel Nava in the fifth. Score: 6-1 heading in the sixth.
The bullpen did another great job as relievers Randy Williams, Bobby Jenks combined for four strikeouts and no runs allowed.
With mostly minor leaguers in the game at this point, the Red Sox offense continued to roll as third baseman Michael Almanzar plated Juan Carlos Linares to add to the total. Nava added to the total on a sac-fly to score Linares from third. Catcher Paul Hoover finally capped the sixth with a sac-fly to score Drew Sutton from third. Score: 9-1
Youngster Blake Maxwell came in to shut the door in the ninth as he finished off the Fish. Final score: Red Sox 9, Marlins: 2
The Offense: The Red Sox lineup really did show up to play today. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia both were 3 for 3 on the day; Ellsbury with a rare homer. David Ortiz also had a nice game going 2 for 3 for a double. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has quietly had a wonderful spring as he was 1 for 2 on the day, lifting his Spring batting average to .308. And of course, the debut of Adrian Gonzalez added to the effort. All and all great signs from the Red Sox offense today.
John Lackey's second inning: Ok I know I'm being a little bit hypercritical here, because the man only gave up one run. However, Lackey gave up the run with two outs in the inning, which painfully reminded me of last year when he would give up several runs despite having two outs. Lackey did recover, and pitched well overall throughout the game. Lackey needs to be able to finish innings, because that is what really hit him hard last season.
Kevin Youkilis: Oh wow where to begin with this. I know it's just the Spring and its early, but Youkilis struggled yet again today, putting up an 0 for 3 line. Youkilis now has a batting average that stands at .160, kinda like Big Papi's April line from the past two years. Hopefully he's just settling into a rhythm, and will be able to be that force we want him to be in the middle of the lineup.