SARASOTA, Fla. — In a spring training game that saw Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffer a scare with his right wrist, Jonny Gomes blasted a long home run to left field while several Red Sox relievers looked strong early on as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-3, Wednesday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
Reliever Franklin Morales started the game and retired the side in order on 12 pitches, eight strikes. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring.
But the bigger story came in top of the first when the Red Sox (2-4) appeared to dodge a major bullet. With an 0-1 count, Middlebrooks took an inside fastball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks attempted to check his swing and avoid being hit. He was successful in avoiding the pitch but he immediately grabbed his right wrist and went to manager John Farrell. He was taken out of the game and replaced with Pedro Ciricaco. As he went into the dugout, he threw his helmet against the back wall in obvious frustration.
The team later said Middlebrooks, who broke the same wrist last August in Cleveland when hit by a pitch, was suffering from “right wrist soreness” and would be re-evaluated Thursday in Fort Myers. After the game Middlebrooks said he felt no pain and it was “just a scare” and a “freak thing that scared everybody.” He pointed to the outside of his right wrist, where he suffered the break last August and said the initial discomfort was in the same area.
Alex Speier has much more, including reaction from Middlebrooks.
The group of Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all threw a single inning of work. Only Hanrahan allowed a run, and it was unearned, as Ciriaco threw high to first on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Nava couldn’t reach up and grab it.
But the good run of pitching ended in the sixth when Junichi Tazawa was roughed up for two runs on four hits and committed a balk in the sixth. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to left by Chris Davis, erasing Boston’s 2-1 lead and putting Baltimore ahead, 3-2. Tazawa has allowed five hits and two runs over two innings in his first two appearances. Drake Britton allowed two more runs on three hits in the seventh as Baltimore built a 5-2 lead.
Gomes provided the offensive highlight shot of the night when he obliterated a fastball from lefty Zach Britton and drove it over 430 feet to left-center to break a 1-1 tie and put the Red Sox up, 2-1, in the top of the fourth. Defensively, catching prospect Christian Vazquez showed off a gun for an arm in the eighth, throwing out a would-be base-stealer at second for the second out and picking off a runner at third for the final out of the inning.
POST-GAME QUOTABLES from John Farrell:
On the two eighth-inning outs from Vazquez: “What a release, what an arm. Cutting a guy down at second base but then the presence of mind to communicate with the third baseman and just put on a pick play, a knock-down pick right there. He knows he has a good arm and he’s not afraid to show it. It’s pretty exciting to see.”
On the work of the regular relievers, including Junichi Tazawa: “I thought all guys threw well. Even the two runs that Taz gave up, four base hits the other way and [Chris] Davis, you get a ball down out over the plate, he can do that. But still, I thought he had very good stuff. He was missing just off the plate a little bit at times. But to a man, I thought guys came to the mound and threw the ball very well.”
The Red Sox are back in action on the mid-Gulf Coast on Thursday afternoon, as they take on the Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. John Lackey gets his second start of the spring and is expected to go two innings.
For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
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