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Blake Swihart happy to get into swing of things

It’s been another trying season for Blake Swihart, shown here in spring training.File/Jim Davis/Globe Staff

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox used 24 players in Friday night’s 15-inning victory against Tampa Bay. It’s fair to say Blake Swihart had the most fun.

The catcher was ebullient following a 13-6 victory if only because he finally was able to contribute. He caught the final seven innings and was 1 for 4 at the plate.

Swihart was recalled on Sept. 1 but until Friday had appeared in only one game, as a pinch hitter on Sept. 3.

“That was great. I was ready when my name was called,” said Swihart, who came into the game as a pinch runner in the top of the ninth inning for Sandy Leon. “I hadn’t played in a few weeks so even 90 [miles per hour] was looking pretty fast to me. But I felt awesome.”


Sox pitchers allowed one run on four hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts with Swihart behind the plate. He had not caught since Aug. 29

“With each inning that he did catch, you could see some added comfort,” manager John Farrell said. “He hasn’t caught in a few weeks and all of a sudden jump in the game in the ninth inning and here’s Craig Kimbrel. Not an easy task to undertake.”

Swihart had worked with all of the pitchers before, except for Addison Reed. That made it easier.

“He did a very good job,” Farrell said. “From the game-calling to the receiving and the blocking, it was pivotal at that point of the game . . . that was a much-needed contribution.”

Said Swihart: “I’ve been catching in the bullpen and making sure I knew what the pitchers were doing. I felt great about what I was able to do. Great win for the team.”


Swihart’s performance gives the Sox more comfort to use Christian Vazquez as the designated hitter when Leon catches.

“Maybe this gives us an opportunity to be more flexible with the lineup,” Farrell said.

Swihart played only 62 minor league games this season because of issues with his surgically repaired left ankle. The Sox are planning to develop him as a utility player over the winter and into spring training.

As part of that transition, Swihart was on the field early on Saturday taking ground balls at third base from infield coach Brian Butterfield.

Nunez getting closer

Eduardo Nunez missed his sixth consecutive game with a sore right knee. But he had another on-field workout before the game.

“There’s no timetable for his return,” Farrell said. “But, still, to see what he’s able to endure is all very encouraging.

Nunez took swings in the batting cage with a brace on his knee before throwing on the field and taking ground balls. Nunez will likely not be allowed to play until he goes through some base running drills.

Hanley Ramirez was out again with left bicep inflammation. He is day to day after receiving an MRI on Friday.

Tip of the cap

Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier made one of the season’s best catches in the ninth inning on Friday.

With runners on first and second, Jackie Bradley Jr. sent a pitch to the gap in left. Kiermaier, at a full sprint, made a diving grab as he tumbled to the warning track.

“I was mad at the moment. But you definitely have to respect that play,” said Bradley, who stole a hit away from Kiermaier at Fenway Park on Sept. 8. “A tremendous play from a tremendous player. An unbelievable catch.”


Rajai Davis, who was at second base, was halfway down the line and was able to get back and tag to go to third. He then scored the tying run.

Long day

Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 9 on Friday despite putting the ball in play seven times. His batting average fell from .314 to .306. Pedroia did score a run after reaching on error in the 15th inning.

Pedroia had the first 0 for 9 in the majors since Atlanta’s Martin Prado in 2011 and the first for the Red Sox since Trot Nixon in 2006.

It could be worse. Charlie Pick was 0 for 11 for the Boston Braves in a 26-inning game against the Brooklyn Robins on May 1, 1920, at Braves Field.

They had Drive

Single A Greenville won the South Atlantic League championship on Friday night with a 9-3 victory against Kannapolis. It was the first league title in franchise history.

In a 3-3 game, the Drive scored five runs in the sixth inning. Brett Netzer’s three-run double made it 8-3. Netzer, a third-round draft pick in June, was 12 for 28 with eight RBIs in the postseason.

Hunter Smith worked 2⅓ innings of scoreless relief for the win. It was the first league championship for Greenville manager Darren Fenster.

Price getting closer

David Price would be available in relief on Sunday but the Sox would prefer to wait until Monday to give him four full days off since his three-inning simulated game on Wednesday . . . Some numbers from Friday night: the Sox had 21 hits and their pitchers struck out 24, a franchise record. The teams combined to use 21 pitchers and 31 position players. There were 541 pitches thrown . . . Chris Sale struck out nine in his 5⅔ innings on Saturday. His 287 strikeouts this season are third in franchise history. Pedro Martinez had 313 in 1999 and Roger Clemens 291 in 1988. The last major leaguer with 300 was Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers in 2015. He had 301. Before that, you have to go back to Randy Johnson (334) and Curt Schilling (316) with Arizona in 2002. The last American League pitcher to do it was Martinez . . . Through Friday, the Sox have played 55 extra innings this season, the most in the majors.


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.