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It wasn’t the way Kevin Cash wanted to start his Friday morning. Hearing the news that closer, Brad Boxberger, was out for eight weeks due to a “core” injury that required surgery Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays second-year manager was disappointed but optimistic about his team overcoming the loss of the reigning AL saves champ. Cash suggested they had plenty of reliable arms to hold down the fort until Boxberger’s return, mentioning names like Ryan Webb, Alex Colome, and Danny Farquhar to name a few.
A few hours later and the Rays would send 32-year old, elder statesman of the pitching staff, Dana Eveland to the mound to face off against the Boston Red Sox for the fourth of five meetings between the two teams this spring. The Rays were coming off a 13-5 victory over the BoSox back on March 13th and Eveland will be making his first start of the spring and fifth overall appearance.
Things got sloppy in the field early for the Rays as they have most the spring. In the second inning, Steve Pearce, playing third base, threw a sure double-play ball into right field which would inevitably lead to the Red Sox first run of the ballgame when Brennan Boesch hit a sac fly to left to score Blake Swihart.
The Rays would answer back in the bottom of the frame thanks to a two-out, RBI single by Mikie Mahtook scoring Hank Conger from second.
A scary moment in the bottom of the third as Boesch laid out for a Steven Souza Jr fly ball and took a long while to get up. Trainers helped him to the clubhouse in what appeared to be a wrist injury. The Red Sox would start to get sloppy, themselves, as the very next hitter, Brad Miller, reaches on a throwing error by Sam Travis. After Pearce grounds into a double play, Morrison gets his second hit of the game against the shift and puts the Rays up 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Miller would connect for his team-leading second home run of the spring to straight away center field to extend the Rays lead to 3-1.
Danny Farquhar and Alex Colome would be lights out in relief of Eveland in the third, fourth, and fifth innings before giving way to David Carpenter in the sixth. Carpenter, making just his second appearance of the spring, struggled with his command after getting the first quick out. He walked the next hitter then gave up a single to right field putting runners on the corners. Keeping his composure, the former Atlanta Brave, got the double play he needed to get out of the inning without any damage done.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Taylor Motter would come to the plate and line a double into left field scoring Rene Rivera to make it a 4-1 lead for the Rays. Coming into the game Friday, Tampa Bay led all of baseball in doubles with 51 and continued to expand on that with three more against Boston.
Granden Goetzman, pinch-hitting for Rivera in the 8th, finished the scoring for either team with a solo home run of his own. Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero would close out the final two innings for the Rays.
Evan Longoria is slated to be in the lineup Saturday and Chris Archer on the mound as the Rays take on the Orioles in Port Charlotte before heading to Cuba on Sunday. First pitch is at 1:05.
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