The Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals took a memorable tour of the U.S. Naval Academy before engaging in one last inconsequential baseball game prior to opening day.
Playing within the guarded walls of the academy on Navy's home diamond, the Nationals and Boston played to a 4-4 tie Saturday in a tiny stadium jammed with 1,030 fans — most of them Midshipmen in uniform.
Max Scherzer allowed two runs over five innings for Washington in a game called after nine innings.
For the players and coaches, the most significant part of the day occurred long before Sean J. Stackley, acting Secretary of the Navy, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The bus tour included a visit to the largest single dormitory in the world — which houses the entire brigade. The most stirring stop was at the site of the honor roll of all academy graduates who have died in military operations.
Nationals center fielder Adam Eaton said he was struck by "the seriousness of it all," noting, "We don't understand the focus that it takes, the structure, the dedication to train and survive with one another and protect the country."
The players dressed in a small locker room at the Navy football stadium before traveling to the ballpark by bus. It was not at all convenient, but Red Sox manager John Farrell considered Annapolis to be a worthwhile detour before the team headed home to face Pittsburgh in Monday's opener.
"One thing I hope our players take from it is, they had an opportunity to see behind the scenes of the Naval Academy," Farrell said. "We knew it was going to be little bit out of the norm, but for a special occasion like this we're certainly flexible. This is a special day for all of us."
It certainly was different. The wall in dead center was 390 feet from the plate, the foul pole in left was at 318 feet and the pole in right stood a mere 300 feet away. Yet no one homered.
The clock on the scoreboard posted military time, and Farrell said he couldn't remember working before so small a crowd.
That, however, wasn't the takeaway from this trip.
"It's amazing just to see what they have to go through to protect our country," Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts said. "Some of us take those things for granted, but to actually get to see it first hand, it makes you appreciate it a lot more."
Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper got into the spirit by wearing a Navy hoodie during warmups, and the curly "W'' on Washington's caps had a stars-and-stripes design.
BLUE JAYS 6, PIRATES 4
A crowd of 52,202 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal saw Melvin Upton Jr. homer and drive in three runs for Toronto. Troy Tulowitzki and Kendrys Morales each added doubles, and Francisco Liriano pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up one run.
Tyler Glasnow, who earned the final spot in Pittsburgh's rotation, allowed three runs in three innings.
MARLINS 3, TIGERS 2
Detroit starter Daniel Norris finished a spring of mixed results by working 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
Ichiro Suzuki had a hit and scored a run for the Marlins. Wei-Yin Chin, who starts next week against the Mets, threw three innings and allowed one run.
REDS 5, DAYTON 1
Scott Schleber, Stuart Turner and Patrick Kivlehan all hit solo home runs for Reds against the A Dayton Dragons, their Single-A affiliate. Scooter Gennett, claimed off waivers from Milwaukee on Tuesday, got two hits.
Tyler Stephenson drove in the only run for Dayton with an RBI single.
BREWERS 5, WHITE SOX 4
Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his fourth homer while Jesus Aguilar added a two-run single for Milwaukee.
Jose Abreu homered and had three hits for Chicago. Derek Holland, slated in the No. 4 spot in the rotation, worked two scoreless innings at Miller Park.
MARINERS 1, ROCKIES 1, 9 INNINGS
Nolan Arenado launched his third homer to close out Cactus League play for Colorado.
Yovani Gallardo had a strong start in what was an otherwise poor spring for the Mariners, throwing three scoreless innings. Gallardo, who starts against the Angels on April 7, finished with a 7.47 ERA.
GIANTS 6, ATHLETICS 3
Nick Hundley hit a grand slam and San Francisco made it a sweep of their Bay Bridge Series, winning at Oakland.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run double for the A's, a positive first impression on his new fan base.
RANGERS 5, ROYALS 3
Texas said star third baseman Adrian Beltre will go on the disabled list to begin his 20th major league season because of tightness in his right calf. Joey Gallo will play the position in Beltre's absence.
Kansas City starter Jason Hammel gave up four earned runs in two innings on four hits, a walk and two hit batters.