If you like the chaos of Spring Training, boy did the Braves and Red Sox have the Friday night Grapefruit League game for you. It ended with a walkoff two-run homer, but let’s high the high points non-chronologically:
Dylan Dodd went five innings in this one, posting a 5/2 K/BB ratio and giving up a two-run shot to Justin Turner, along with another run. He struck out the side in the first while working around a double and a walk, had a perfect second, and then was a lot less breezy from there on out. In the third, he gave up a leadoff single, got an easy 3-6-3 double play off the bat of Alex Verdugo, issued a walk to Rafael Devers, gave up the homer to Turner, and then got a groundout. A snazzy Orlando Arcia 6-3 double play bailed Dodd out of a two-on, one-out situation in the fourth. There were two more hits off Dodd in the fifth, but he got WBC champ Masataka Yoshida to pop out to end his night. Overall, it wasn’t really a paragon of a game for Dodd, but he held his own. With some pitch mix tweaks and some more experience, he might start to be dangerous.
Dingers were hit in this game. Yes, yes they were. Turner’s two-run shot off Dodd opened the scoring (sorta, see below). Ozzie Albies responded with a solo shot to lead off the next frame. Much later, with the Braves now down 7-5 in the ninth, against familiar face Kenley Jansen, Adam Zembrowski connected for a two-run, game-tying shot. But then, with the Braves now up 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, Triston Casas ended this wacky affair with a walkoff, two-run shot.
Disorientation in baseball can be something akin to a random retroactively added run, and that’s exactly what happened in this game. In the third, the Braves had runners on second and third with two outs, with Sam Hilliard at the dish. Hilliard chopped a ball to Devers at third, who scooped up the ball and wheeled around to tag out Austin Riley. The umpire ruled that Riley was out, and that was that... until about two half-innings later, when the Braves were randomly credited with a run because apparently Matt Olson, the runner who started the play on third, crossed the plate before Riley was tagged out. Spring Training!
D-team shenanigans were out in full force in this one. The kids the Braves brought along to Fort Myers scored five runs in the final two innings. First, they erased a two-run deficit in the seventh and eighth. When the Red Sox scored two more in the bottom of the eighth, they scored three in the top of the ninth... only to fall on Casas’ homer. In the eighth, it was Joe Dunand, Cade Bunnell, Andrew Moritz, and Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. all had consecutive, two-out hits to tie the game. That all came off former friend Chris Martin, who struggled enough in facing these guys that the Red Sox had to have a mound visit to check on him and make sure he was healthy enough to continue. And then, in the ninth, after Jansen relieved Martin, Zembrowski delivered his two-run go-ahead blast.
But the D-team also featured Ian Mejia pitching in relief of Dodd. It was clear that the Braves really didn’t want anyone else to pitch in this game, because Mejia ended up throwing three full innings and about 50 pitches. The Red Sox scored four runs off Mejia and the Braves’ defense in those innings, including two RBI doubles to score three runs in the sixth and another couple of runs in the eighth. Mejia didn’t walk anyone (good) but he also only got one strikeout in those three innings (meh). Mostly, I just felt kind of bad that he was left out there for as long as he was. In the ninth, with a one-run lead, it was Joe Harvey’s turn, and Harvey gave up a leadoff double and then the walkoff homer. I don’t really actually know who Ian Mejia or Joe Harvey are, other than they appeared in this game.
In other stuff, the regulars in the lineup had a mixed bag of a performance. Olson’s Grapefruit League tear continued with a perfect, 2-for-2 with two walks effort. Albies had a hit in addition to his homer and also walked. Sean Murphy had a double, a single, and a walk. Orlando Arcia got a single and a double. On the flip side, Ronald Acuña Jr. went 0-for-4 with a couple of strikeouts and was joined in the 0-for-4 corner by Marcell Ozuna.
There aren’t many Spring Training games left, but the Braves will head to play the Twins on the road on Saturday afternoon.