A calm day down on the Fort with the Red Sox traveling to Clearwater and the Pawtucket and Portland teams staying behind to play Rochester and New Britain, respectively, on the back fields.
After a morning of early work, no fog today to stop on-field BP or infield drills, the PawSox played host to Rochester at 1pm. Allen Webster was to get the start for Pawtucket, his first outing since being optioned by the Red Sox.
By all accounts, Webster has struggled in the 1st inning of games. It was that way in 2013 with the PawSox and the Red Sox, and it has been that way, to an extent, so far this spring. He did not get off to a strong start this afternoon as he allowed a leadoff single before issuing a walk. However, he coaxed a comebacker which Webster turned into a 1-6-3 double play to help himself. Another walk and a hit batter loaded the bases before Webster finally got out of the inning with a fielder's choice.
Pawtucket saw some of its 2014 regulars in the lineup with Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder coming back down from big league camp. But also some Red Sox regulars David Ortiz and David Ross stayed behind to get some at-bats as well.
David Ross singled and lined out in his two at-bats with Pawtucket. He had a couple more at-bats on the adjacent field with Portland.
Because of the presence of Ortiz and Ross, there was a better than average crowd on the back fields. Created a fun atmosphere.
Back to the game action where Allen Webster settled in and had a quick second frame. In the 3rd, he started by allowing back to back singles before notching a strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. A clean 4th kept the game 0-0.
The PawSox finally got on the scoreboard in the 4th as J.C. Linares and Bo Greenwell singled before Papi bounced into a double play. A Brock Holt walk put runners on the corners for Christian Vazquez who promptly doubled down the left field line to score the game's first two runs.
Webster, finally pitching with a lead, retired the leadoff man in the 5th before allowing a triple and an RBI single to cut the score to 2-1. A shallow fly out went for the second out, then a walk and a two-run double turned the score to 3-2 in favor of Rochester. One more walk and the inning came to a close an out short and the day was done for Webster. His final line was not pretty because of the 5th: 4.2 IP, 3ER, 6H, 4BB, HBP and 2 k's. He was much better than that, but maybe ran out of steam in the 5th.
There was no offense for the PawSox until the 7th when Bo Greenwell blasted a solo homer to right to tie the game 3-3. What made the homer even better was that his dad, Mike who played for Pawtucket in 1985 and 1986 and Boston from 1985 through 1996, mom and aunt and uncle were all in attendance to watch.
Right before the homer, Mike was standing behind me and we struck up a conversation and chatted through the rest of the game. It's not hard to root for a guy like that, and for his son, who has had a career marred by injuries while with the Indians system, a fresh start in the Red Sox system might be just what he needs.
The Pawtucket pitching was strong after Webster and Shunsuke Watanbe pitched two scoreless allowing a double while striking out two. Noe Ramirez tossed a scoreless 8th which included two more k's and Chris Resop struck out two in a perfect 9th.
Still tied 3-3 into the bottom of the 9th, Justin Henry led off with a walk. A fly out and strikeout later, Henry was still at first with Holt at the plate. Henry then stole second fairly easily a pitch before Holt lined a double down the right field line to end the game with a 4-3 PawSox victory.
For guys like Holt and Snyder, who were just sent back to the minor leagues, their spirits could have been down, but both had hits in their return and I'm sure they are happy to be getting consistent at-bats day in and day out until the start of the season. Both had hits, Snyder with a single in the 2nd inning and Holt with his game winning double also walked and scored a run.
The PawSox are back to work Saturday with a 1pm game against Rochester at Lee County.
As for the big boys in Clearwater, they finished in a 2-2 tie with Philadelphia in 10 innings. Jon Lester looked great on the hill tossing 5.2 scoreless innings allowing just four hits while striking out five.
Boston had just four hits in the game and the two runs were driven in by A.J. Pierzynski in the 6th inning.
The Red Sox will be in Orlando Saturday to take on the Braves at 1:05pm with John Lackey making the start, his second to last tune up before the season starts on March 31st. His first start is scheduled for April 2nd at Baltimore.
That's all for now. Hope your brackets are still in tact after what has been a pretty wild first two days of the NCAA tournament.