In a St. Patrick's Day Spring Training matchup, the Boston Red Sox overcame a shaky outing by starting pitcher Henry Owens and defeated the visiting Baltimore Orioles by a score of 9-5 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida before 10,015 fans.
JetBlue Park at Fenway South, a replica of Fenway Park in Boston, has been the Spring Training home of the Red Sox since March 2011, when they moved there from their previous location at the City of Palms Park.
The Red Sox are 6-10 (3-6 at home) so far in Grapefruit League action, while the Orioles are 4-12, with zero victories on the road.
First baseman Sam Travis delivered the big blow for the Sox in the afternoon game, a three-run jack in the bottom of the first. Travis is hitting nearly 600 so far in Grapefruit League action.
"While it's too soon to find a roster spot for Travis, he is putting himself in the mix to arrive sooner than later, particularly if an injury were to sideline first baseman Hanley Ramirez," WEEI observed.The other Travis, third/first basemen Travis Shaw -- who could replace high-paid but underachieving/overweight Pablo Sandoval in the regular season lineup at the hot corner -- is hitting.464 after yesterday's action.
The Red Sox also put up a three-spot in the fourth and seventh innings.
Owens, a lefty, fell short of making a case for himself to join the regular season rotation in this particular outing by giving up four hits, four runs, and two walks in just 2-2/3 innings. He also hit two batters as well as recording four strikeouts.
Owens also worked very slowly on the mound, which was less than optimum for both players and fans alike on the blistering hot day.
There was no shortage of offense on either side, however.
Baltimore first baseman Christian Walker blasted a three-run homer off of Owens in the third inning.
Hard-throwing reliever Matt Barnes got the win. Orioles starter and loser Vance Worley lasted 3-1/2 innings, giving up six runs, four of which were earned.
As part of the St. Patrick's Day celebration at the home of the Green Monster south, the Red Sox wore green jerseys, and the bases were also green. Many of the fans in attendance were also outfitted with green apparel of various kinds.Although DH David Ortiz (in his final MLB season) was in the lineup, many of the Red Sox regulars such as Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., as well as Ramirez and Sandoval, got the day off, which is not unusual in Spring Training scheduling.
Visiting teams also allow a certain number of their established MLB players to avoid road trips during Spring Training, which was reflected in the squad that Baltimore put on the field in JetBlue Park.
The Orioles also had a game last night at their home field in Sarasota, Ed Smith Staduim, which dictated some lineup decisions.
Around the sixth inning of a typical Spring Training contest, teams typically pull most of the starters in favor of Triple-A or lower players, which is why the regular season closer often enters the game to get some work in the sixth rather than in the ninth.
Notably, Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox superstar Carl Yastrzemski, was a late-inning replacement in right field for the Orioles.
The Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East in the 2015 campaign with a record of 78-84; although, with the major addition of ace free agent pitcher David Price, they have high hopes moving forward. The pressure will be on manager John Farrell, who won the World Series title with Boston in 2013, to guide the team to a fast start after two consecutive last-place finishes.
The Baltimore Orioles are also on a mission. They finished in third place last year, with a 81-81 record, missing a Wild Card berth by 6-1/2 games, after winning the AL East in 2014.
[Photos by Robert Jonathan]