CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 06: Designated hitter Robinson Chirinos #38 of the Tampa Bay Rays fouls off a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Chirinos Has Walk-Off Homerun, Rays Beat Red Sox 8-6

It’s still only Spring Training, but man, you wouldn’t know it from watching the game today.

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Rays, Chirinos Beat Red Sox 8-6 With Walk-Off Homerun

Today’s game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays started off looking like it would be a blowout. The Rays scored a total of five runs in the first three innings, jumping all over starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and roughing him up for five hits and two walks. The Rays were in cruise control; the offense was rocking and Andy Sonnanstine was in his best form of the spring, pitching four scoreless innings while only allowing two baserunners.

Once the Rays turned to their bullpen, though, the game got much closer. Lefty R.J. Swindle got roughed up for a few hits and a run in the fifth, and then Alex Torres let up three runs in the sixth inning to bring Boston within one run of tying the game.

The Red Sox would remain only one run behind until the ninth inning, when Oscar Tejada hit a homerun off Rays pitcher Brandon Gomes to tie the game. The Red Sox then took the lead on a Drew Sutton homerun, but the Rays came right back in the bottom of the ninth. Desmond Jennings led off with a single, and then Casey Kotchman hit him home with a game-tying double. And then Robinson Chirinos came to the plate and crushed a pitch deep into the left field seats, winning the game for the Rays 8-6.

It’s still only Spring Training, but man, you wouldn’t know it from watching the game today.

Game Notes:

- Dan Johnson and Reid Brignac both flashed impressive defense in this game, robbing the Red Sox of hits on multiple occasions. Brignac made a few diving stops to both sides, and Johnson made some nice stops on hard hit balls up the line. Andrew Friedman was in the television booth when Johnson made one of these stops, and he commented how Johnson being right-handed would help him save more hits up the line than a normal first baseman.

- John Jaso cranked his homerun in the second inning, really unloading on the pitch. He hasn’t flashed much power in the past, so it was a good sign to see him hit a ball that hard and far.

- Matt Bush continues to impress, pitching another scoreless inning this Spring Training. It’s still unlikely that he’ll open the season with the big league club, but it’s becoming more and more of a likelihood that he’ll see time in the majors at some point this season.

- Carl Crawford got a smattering of applause during his first at bat. Then again, there seemed to be a large percentage of Red Sox fans at the game, so I suppose I can’t blame Rays fans for that.

- David Price is jealous of Evan Longoria’s hair. Apparently he’s trying to bring the mullet back in style?

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Carl Crawford Returns: Red Sox Face Rays In Spring Training

Pending the rain holds off, the Rays will play in Port Charlotte today, hosting the hated rival Red Sox. Via Marc Topkin:

Lineup:

Zobrist 2B
Damon DH
Longoria 3B
Ramirez LF
Joyce RF
Upton CF
D. Johnson 1B
Brignac SS
Jaso C

Sonnanstine   P

Other Rays pitchers slated for the bullpen: right-handers Rob Delaney, Mike Ekstrom, Matt Bush, Brandon Gomes, and left-hander Alex Torres. (yikes)

This will be Reid Brignac 's first game back in the line up after missing a week with a tight groin. Ben Zobrist just joined the Rays yesterday after missing a week with a sore right ankle. 

Today will the the clubs first look at former LF Carl Crawford in Boston Red. On the bright side, this will be Boston's introduction to Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon in Tampa Navy. Bittersweet.

The Rays will be facing Daisuke Matsuzaka, as well as righties Alfredo Aceves and Michael Bowden, and lefties Andrew Miller and Rich Hill (also yikes). Both teams could be guaranteeing a slug fest. 

This game will be on MLB.tv and Sunsports for those near a television. Rain has been coming down all morning, but is expected to clear up around noon. 

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