Valentine has high praise for Miller

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Valentine has high praise for Miller

Valentine lauded reliever Andrew Miller, who has had a break-out year in the Boston bullpen.

Miller is 3-1 with a 3.29 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a .191 batting average. He's also stranded 37-of-42 inherited runners, good for an 88.1 success rate, third-best among American League relievers.

"I think Andrew's developed into a terrific pitcher," said Valentine. "I think he started in a very questionable place and now has a very secure foot-hold on being able to compete at the major league level. I think he can be a dominating force in the bullpen."

Lefties are hitting just .134 (11-for-82) off Miller this season and he's registered 47 strikeouts in 38 13 innings and has held opponents scoreless in 40 of his 49 appearances.

"He can be very proud of his development," said Valentine. "And he's still developing. He's working on a two-seam changeup to righthanders that I will think will put him a little over the edge next year, into another
category.''

Miller has had some difficulty with righties, who have hit him at a .278 clip. Hence, the work on the changeup to give him another weapon when facing righties.

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.