The Red Sox are the kind of team that can hope to win 100 games this year. But that's the regular season. So far in spring training, between split squad games and road trips where the regulars stay at home, they're just three-for-nine, with five losses and a tie. Monday, though, the Sox played at home, with their full squad, and saw the expected results.
The last time John Lackey had been on the mound was in his spring debut--a thoroughly mixed affair which involved a good deal of hard contact and one run in two innings. His performance against the Orioles could not have been more different: four scoreless innings, only one hit, with six ground balls and three popups. That's exactly the sort of performance Lackey can thrive off of in the regular season.
With only Jarrod Saltalamacchia and, of course, Adrian Gonzalez missing from the starting lineup, the offense was ready to get to work too:
First inning singles from Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and J.D. Drew put the Red Sox up 3-0 early on. A fifth inning double from Pedroia gave the Sox a chance to tack on another run--one Carl Crawford capitalized on.
With John Lackey out of the game, however, the Orioles started to even things up:
Dan Wheeler was the first victim, allowing a pair of runs on two doubles and a single. Kyle Weiland was up next, offering up another pair of runs--first walking one in in the sixth, and then allowing a second on a seventh inning double from Nolan Reimold to tie the game. When Randy Williams gave up a leadoff triple in the eighth, it was clear the Sox were going to have to fight back if they didn't want to drop another game.
For once, though, the Sox' starters had carried their weight, meaning the seemingly inevitable production of the prospects and backups was enough to get the job done:
Che-Hsuan Lin, who had so far only been picking up walks this spring, added his first hit to lead off the eighth. An error on an attempted pickoff sent Lin to second before another defensive gaffe on Jose Iglesias' ground ball allowed him to score the tying run.
Darnell McDonald's leadoff [ninth inning] double meant the team had three chances for one hit. The first--a routine ground ball from Oscar Tejeda--almost ended in disaster as McDonald found himself caught in a rundown between second and third. He managed to avoid the defenders long enough for Tejeda to reach second, though, keeping the all-important RISP. With Daniel Nava going down on strikes, only one out remained to get the job done. Yamaico Navarro did just that, stepping in and lacing a walk-off line drive into left field to give the Red Sox the win.
It's good to be back to winning.
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