The Red Sox defeated the Washington Nationals 4-2 Monday afternoon behind a strong pitching performance from Aaron Cook, bidding farewell to Florida on a positive note.
While Cook will not be in the rotation to start the year, he does seem the likeliest candidate to fill any long-term vacancy that should open up. Looking to make a good last impression on Bobby Valentine, Cook took the mound against the Washington Nationals and set about doing what he does best: getting ground balls.
While the first ground ball wouldn't go for an out due to an Adrian Gonzalez fielding error, Adam LaRoche's would to end the first scoreless inning, as would Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores in the second. He would record five ground outs in the process of pitching three scoreless innings to start the game.
The fourth, however, would prove less successful, with Danny Espinosa leading off the frame with a solo shot to center. The Sox, as they have been doing so often of late, would respond in rapid fashion. A single from Adrian Gonzalez and double from David Ortiz got them off to a fast start in the bottom of the inning, and while Kevin Youkilis would ground out, singles from Darnell McDonald and Ryan Sweeney would each score a run before a Mike Aviles sacrifice fly left the score at 3-1.
Cook would close out his day with a scoreless fifth, handing the ball off to Vicente Padilla, who provided a clean sixth. The Sox built their lead to 4-1 on doubles from Nate Spears and Jason Repko, but they would not need it. Mark Melancon would take the Sox into the eighth without allowing the run before Matt Albers finally allowed the Nationals a second on a pair of hits. Nursing a two run lead, Franklin Morales pitched a clean ninth to send the Sox off on a good note.