BOSTON Aaron Cook allowed five runs in the fifth, including back-to-back home runs, as the Red Sox dropped their series and season finale to the Tigers, 7-5, Wednesday night at Fenway Park.Cook handled the Tigers with relative ease through the first three innings, giving up just two hits a first-inning Miguel Cabrera single, and a third-inning Ramon Santiago single.The Sox offense gave him a one-run lead in the first. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double down the first base line against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. Ellsbury took third on Dustin Pedroias fly out to center, scoring on Cody Ross single to right.But, Cook began to struggle in the fourth. He hit Quintin Berry with a pitch to open the inning. With Cabrera at bat, Cook picked Berry off first and then got Cabrera to fly out to Ryan Kalish in right field. But Prince Fielder doubled off the wall in left, scoring on Brennan Boeschs single to center.Cook unraveled in the fifth. He gave up consecutive singles to Alex Aviles and Jhonny Peralta to open the inning. Each moved up on Santiagos sacrifice bunt. Avila scored on Austin Jacksons single to left with Peralta scoring on Berrys groundout. Jackson moved up to third when Cook unleashed a wild pitch, but that quickly became moot when Cabrera launched a titanic shot over the Green Monster, scoring Jackson, for his 26th home run of the season. On Cooks next pitch Fielder homered into the first row of seats in the center field bleachers.That ended Cooks outing, bringing in new acquisition Craig Breslow. It was his first appearance with the Sox since Sept. 29, 2006. Breslow struck out Brennan Boesch on three pitches to end the inning.Cook went 4 23 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch with no walks or strikeouts. He took the loss, falling to 2-5, as his ERA rose from 4.50 to 5.24.The Sox got three runs in the sixth to cut their deficit to 6-4. Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, and Cody Ross each singled to open the inning, loading the bases. Jarrod Saltalamacchia ground into a double play, erasing Ross, scoring Pedroia. Gonzalez scored on Will Middlebrooks single to right. A walk to Ryan Kalish ended Porcellos outing. Left-hander Phil Coke entered, giving up a single to Pedro Ciriaco, scoring Middlebrooks, before Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to end the inning.The Tigers added a run in the eighth when Delmon Young solo a solo home run around the Pesky Pole off Andrew Miller, putting the Tigers up, 7-5.Cook got the win, going 5 23 innigns, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He improved to 8-6.Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for his 21st save.
Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.
Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.
"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."
While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.
Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.
Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.
Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.
Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland?
If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.
“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.”
If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.
“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”
The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.
Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that.
Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.
Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.
"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)
That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.
Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.
Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.
Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.
“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”
Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.
The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.
Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.
Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.