The Red Sox and Rays played a spring training game on Thursday as we all recovered from the winter storm that just passed through the Northeast. Because it was a spring training game, it ended in a tie, which tells you all you need to know about spring training games. Still, there were things to take away from this game, like the spring debut of Eduardo Nuñez and a strong effort at the plate from J.D. Martinez.
J.D. Martinez showed a little of what he can do
The Red Sox were put into a hole early after a handful of early offense from the Rays, but Boston’s lineup showed an ability to climb their way back into this game. That effort was led by J.D. Martinez, who went 3-3 as one of two Red Sox batters with multiple hits. The first hit went down as an RBI double to score Mookie Betts (we’ll get to him in a second), but really it was a single that was misplayed into a double. Either way, he paired that with two more singles before calling it a day. We all knew Martinez was a great hitter, but it’s always fun to see it in action, even in a meaningless game that ended in a damn tie. Speaking of Betts, he finally got off the schneid on Thursday recording his first hit of the year. It wasn’t anything special, but he hit a ground ball down the third base line that was fielded but one that gave the defense no chance to make a play. Betts celebrated with first base coach Tom Goodwin with a big ol’ hug. It was sweet. It was his only hit of the game. Beyond those two, the biggest story in the lineup was the presence of Eduardo Nuñez, who made his spring debut. It was not one to remember, though, as he went 0-2 with a strikeout. The other Red Sox with multiple hits was Xander Bogaerts, who had a double and a single and moved his spring OPS up to 1.383. Jackie Bradley Jr. also came through with a double to hopefully kickstart what has been a fairly quiet down start to his spring. Also getting singles in this game were Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Barfield and Aneury Tavarez.
A rough start but nice recovery from the pitching
As a team, the Red Sox pitching staff dug themselves in an early hole before turning things around and getting good results for the end part of the game. The same could be said for the game’s starter, Brian Johnson. The southpaw is the presumed favorite to start the year as the fifth starter, and he had an awful first inning. He allowed the first four Rays to reach on a pair of doubles, a walk and a single in a sequence that led to three runs before he recorded on out. That was all the damage he’d allow, though, as he got the next three guys out and allowed just one more hit over the next two innings. In all, he allowed three runs in three innings of work with four strikeouts and likely didn’t lose any ground in the competition to start the year in the rotation. Coming in next was Fernando Rodriguez, an emergency depth option in relief. He also allowed three runs in the game, though he did it over two innings. Prospect Darwinzon Hernandez made an inning-long appearance, his first with the big-league club. He looked solid, allowing just a single while also recording a strikeout. The game was finished off with scoreless innings from Tommy Layne, Trey Ball and Trevor Kelley, all of whom represent mild interest for Red Sox fans for differing reasons. Layne is a left-handed option with major-league experience. Ball is a former top-ten pick. Kelley is an under-the-radar reliever prospect.