ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Long after it can do them any good, the Red Sox are, belatedly, having themselves a pretty good road trip.
The Sox rode a two-run homer from Jacoby Ellsbury, a two-run pinch-hit single by Mauro Gomez and a fine start from Aaron Cook to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2, for their third win in the first four games of their current road swing.
Boston was hitless until the sixth, when, with Jose Iglesias (hit batsman) on third, Jacoby Ellsbury smacked his fourth homer of the year, breaking up Alex Cobb's no-hit bid and shutout all at once.
An inning later, Gomez hit for Scott Podsednik and drilled a single down the left field line, scoring James Loney and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Cook limited the Rays to a single run over six innings and picked up his first win since Aug. 6 and just his second since June 29. Rich Hill and Junichi Tazawa both contributed scoreless innings out of the bullpen before the Rays reached Mark Melancon for a run in the ninth.
The loss was Tampa Bay's sixth in their last seven games and dropped them further back in the chase for the second American League wild card.
The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.