Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

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Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

PHILADLEPHIA -- Citizen's Bank Park has the well-earned reputation of being one of the game's best hitting environments, a point illustrated once more Saturday night.

The Red Sox hammered out six extra-base hits, including four homers, and held off the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5.

The Phillies outhit the Sox 15-11, but stranded plenty of scoring opportunities. From the fifth inning through the eighth, the Phils had at least two hits in every inning and yet came away with just one run in that span.

The Sox got solo homers from Mike Aviles, Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a two-run shot from David Ortiz. Saltalamacchia, a night after getting stiches for a laceration of his left ear, had a single, homer and double in four at-bats.

Three Boston relievers limited the Phillies to a single run over the final three innings with Alfredo Aceves getting the last four outs for his ninth save.

Ryan Sweeney helped bail the pitching staff out in the seventh when he went a long way to the warning track in right-center to make a spectacular diving catch off Carlos Ruiz, saving two runs in the process.

Jon Lester didn't allow a hit the first time through the Phillies order, but then got knocked around a little. In one stretch from the third inning through the fifth, they were 6-for-10, with the big blow coming on a three-run homer from Freddy Galvis.

Lester came out after six, having thrown just 90 pitches as Valentine went to his bullpen.

STAR OF THE GAME: Ryan Sweeney
Sweeney had only one hit -- a double -- as part of the 11-hit attack, but he turned in the play of the game with a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to take away what would have been a two-run double by Carlos Ruiz.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
One night removed from a trip to the hospital for stitches in his ear, the catcher returned to the lineup with a vengeance, collecting three hits -- a homer, single and double -- while knocking in a run and scoring two.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Joe Blanton
Getting rocked for seven runs on nine hits is bad enough, but Blanton added to his own troubles by committing not one but two errors fielding his position.

TURNING POINT: The Phils had runners at second and third and one out, trailnig by three, when Rich Hill came in to face Juan Pierre. He got Pierre on a harmless grounder to third that froze the runners.

BY THE NUMBERS: Jon Lester has made four career starts at Citizen's Bank Park and the Red Sox are a perfect 4-0 in those games.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I'm good for tomorrow, plus, I'm due to hit a bomb.'' Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in a late night text message Friday from the hospital to manager Bobby Valentine.

Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

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Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

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Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

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.