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Red Sox 4, Rays 3: A good start, then some rough defense

A so-so game in a so-so part of the year.

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There was no major standouts in this game, but the Red Sox did pick up another Grapefruit League win and it’s now fair to expect them to break the major-league single-season win record. If we were to pick players of the game, they would go to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Roenis Elias, I suppose.

The big names hit

The Red Sox didn’t score a ton of runs in this game (they scored four, if you skipped the headline), but they did start things off with a bang. As you’ll get used to, there were only a handful of regulars in this lineup, but they all had strong first innings and good games overall (at least at the plate). The top six hitters are expected to at least compete for an Opening Day job, and those were: Bradley, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt and Sandy Leon. Deven Marrero also got a start and hit eighth. Bradley and Benintendi started the game off with back-to-back singles and Devers drove one in on an RBI double. Moreland would drive Benintendi in on a ground out, and Devers would eventually score on another double from Holt. Bradley and Benintendi would each reach base one more time, too, with the former smacking a double and the latter drawing a walk. Lower on the depth chart, Boston got a double from Mike Olt and a triple from Aneury Tavarez. On a more negative note, it was a rough day for Moreland even with the RBI out. He also had another RBI chance with Bradley on third and two outs, but Moreland would go down on strikes to end the frame. Leon and Sam Travis were the other Red Sox not mentioned above who got hits, with each contributing one single. The former also drew a walk.

The defense showed some rust

The infield defense for the Red Sox is at least a slight concern heading into the season, and that’s probably understating it. Well, as a group they didn’t look great on Saturday, though much of that was from players who won’t be seen much if at all in the majors in 2018. Devers will be in the majors, though, and his defense is likely the biggest concern of the infielders. In the third inning he had a chance at a double play but threw the ball short and to the left field side of the bag for his first error of the spring. It would lead to two unearned runs. Esteban Quiroz, the Mexican League signing from the start of the winter, and Mike Olt each had a couple of throwing errors themselves. Then, in the ninth inning, Josh Ockimey kept things going when he booted a ground ball down the line on a play that could have otherwise ended the game. Overall, I wouldn’t worry a ton about early-spring defense — rust is to be expected from pretty much everyone — but there’s no denying that Devers’ defense in particular is something that will be watched closely throughout camp.

Mostly good performances from the pitchers

The Red Sox are still holding off on their major-league starting pitchers — you can probably expect to wait about a week until we see them — so Roenis Elias got the start on Saturday. The oft-forgotten lefty pitched very well in this game, throwing two perfect innings with two strikeouts, two ground outs, a pop out and a fly out. Brandon Workman came in after that and did allow two runs, but they were the unearned runs courtesy of Devers mentioned above. Daniel Gonzalez had to come in and finish that third inning, and got out of it with a strikeout but not before allowing a bases loaded walk. Heath Hembree was next, and he tossed a scoreless frame with a walk and a strikeout. From there, Bobby Poyner and Kyle Martin each pitched a scoreless inning with the latter striking out the side, before Ty Buttrey allowed an unearned run in his inning of work. Dedgar Jimenez — a starter who split 2017 between Salem and Portland — and Adam Lau — a reliever who spent 2017 in Salem — finished off the game with a scoreless inning apiece.