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A Proper Sendoff

Saturday, February 28 – City of Palms Park, Ft. Myers

Red Sox 16, Reds 5

This was my final day in Ft. Myers, before having to return home to New England. The Red Sox played another doubleheader, beating Northeastern University 14-0 in the afternoon (with Ino Guerrero getting another at-bat), and taking on the Cincinnati Reds at night. We had tickets to the night game, but arrived early while the Sox were still taking batting practice. We went down by the Red Sox dugout, where we ended up getting infielder Nick Green’s autograph, which was appropriate, since he was in every game we saw.

Clay Buchholz made the start, and he was very good in his two innings of work. He threw 35 pitches, including a 10-pitch battle with Joey Votto that resulted in an inning-ending groundout. His only baserunner came on a second-inning single. (Newly-acquired Red Jonny Gomes got booed each time up, because of the punches he threw at Coco Crisp in a brawl while with the Rays last season.)

Clay Buchholz allowed only one baserunner in two solid innings of work.

Clay Buchholz allowed only one baserunner in two solid innings of work.

Clay’s teammates made quick work of the Reds’ starter, Nick Masset. They batted around in the first inning and scored four runs, on J.D. Drew’s fielder’s choice, Jason Bay’s single, and Jason Varitek’s two-run double. In the second, they batted around again, this time sending 11 men to the plate and scoring six more runs. Brad Wilkerson drove a home run deep to right-center, and Nick Green and Gil Velazquez both had RBI hits. Even the outs were productive, as Tek and Julio Lugo both knocked in runs with sacrifice flies. Tek knocked in another run with a groundout in the third. All of his plate appearances came left-handed, which is the side he really struggled from last year and is attempting to improve this spring, so it was nice to see him have a big day at the plate.

Jason Varitek and his teammates had a good night at the plate.

Jason Varitek and his teammates had a good night at the plate.

When Buchholz was done, we got our first look at Ramon Ramirez, who was acquired in a trade for Coco Crisp in the off-season. He had a quick 1-2-3 inning. He was followed by Javier Lopez, who struggled a little and ended up walking three. Manny Delcarmen needed only nine pitches to dispose of the Reds in the fifth on a grounder to second, a grounder to short, and a grounder to third. Billy Traber and Daniel Bard also pitched scoreless innings.

The Red Sox take on the Reds at City of Palms Park.

The Red Sox take on the Reds at City of Palms Park.

It was fun to finally see the Red Sox regulars (or at least semi-regulars) put up some runs, and the pitching by anyone slated to be on (or near) the major league staff was again impressive. Spring Training games don’t usually go 3 1/2 hours, but we got our money’s worth with that game. When the win went final, the loudspeakers blared “Dirty Water”: Love that dirty water… oh, Boston, you’re my home. And with the Sox’ first Grapefruit League win of the year, it was time for me to head home.

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Sunday update: It was snowing when my plane landed, and we’re expecting a foot tomorrow. It’s time to put away my shorts and sandals and dig out the longjohns. After all, it’s only a little over a month till Opening Day.

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