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Takeaways: Ranaudo has work to do

JUPITER, Fla. -- There’s little question that Red Sox prospect Anthony Ranaudo -- the Double A Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Year last season -- has a bright future.

It just wasn’t very evident in Wednesday’s 8-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ranaudo, a 6-foot-7 right-hander from LSU who was the 39th pick in the 2010 MLB draft, started out well, flashing a 94-mph fastball and working around a fielding error by third baseman Will Middlebrooks to get two quick outs. He should have been out of the inning at that point. But then Ranaudo gave up a single to Allen Craig that was not hit especially hard, trickling off the glove of shortstop Xander Bogaerts for a well-placed single deep in the hole.

Things got much worse from there for Ranaudo, who pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed six hits, two walks and five runs, three earned.

“I didn’t execute pitches,” Ranaudo said. “I didn’t throw strikes. I didn’t fill up the zone. I was getting out of my delivery, and I think you saw the result of that.

“It’s going to be an interesting five days (until his next outing) because I have a lot of work to do,” he added.

One of Ranaudo’s issues was that once he lost a bit of command, he compounded his problems by trying to aim the ball and, in the process, caused a drop in his velocity. All of a sudden, a fastball that was consistently 92 to 94 became 89 to 90, and the Cardinals took advantage.

“That’s probably one of the worst things I could have done is try to place the ball,” Ranaudo said. “I should have just trusted my stuff, been aggressive and gone after guys.

“I don’t know if I did it consciously -- if you are talking about a drop in my velocity -- but I’m sure it goes with not being able to repeat my delivery.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he didn’t want to “single out” Ranaudo.

“As a staff, what we’ve shown the first six days of games is that we have to pitch better in terms of controlling the count,” Farrell said.

Ranaudo seemed to struggle with his breaking pitches even more than his fastball. Time and again, he tried to change speeds to get ahead in the count 0-1 ... only to miss badly.

Ranaudo said his off-speed pitches come “natural” to him, but that Wednesday was not indicative of where he’s at with that pitch.

“Normally, I am consistent and confident with my breaking stuff, and I can throw it for strikes and as an out pitch,” he said. “But today it was out of whack and kind of ended up in the lefty batting box, and that's not traditionally how I throw my breaking ball.

“It was just not a good day," he said. "I wasn’t hitting any spots. I need to do a better job of making in-game adjustments. Luckily it’s still the first week of March, and I have a lot of time to figure it out.”

Bradley battles: Rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., batting in the second hole, had his moments on each side of the ledger on Wednesday.

In his first at-bat, he worked the count before flying out to fairly deep center field. No doubt, he just missed a homer on that swing.

The next time up, Bradley, a lefty hitter, faced a difficult matchup. Reliever Randy Choate, a side-winding lefty, got ahead of Bradley 1-and-2, including one strike on a breaking ball in the dirt when the Red Sox center fielder could not check his swing. Bradley got a reprieve when Daniel Nava was picked off of first base. Unfortunately for Bradley, Choate was still on the mound the next inning. Choate again got ahead, this time 0-and-2, and got a strikeout on a 76-mph breaking ball.

Bradley redeemed himself on his next plate appearance, drawing a full-count walk against right-handed reliever Angel Castro. Bradley came around to score.

From the manager: Farrell was satisfied with the debut of starting pitcher Chris Capuano, who went two innings and gave up two runs on three hits and one walk.

“For his first outing (of the spring), I thought he threw quality strikes and pitched rather than rely on pure stuff,” Farrell said.

Farrell was less pleased with his infielders, who were charged with three errors -- one apiece for Middlebrooks at third, Deven Marrero at short and Heiker Meneses at second.

“It was a tough day defensively,” Farrell said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do as a team. It was a tough day for Will (especially), but it was compounded by pitching behind in the count. We’ve got to do a better job of pitching in the strike zone.”