With Eduardo Rodriguez going on paternity leave for the birth of his first son, 26-year-old lefty Brian Johnson was called up from Pawtucket to make the start today, his first Major League start in nearly two years. Johnson did not get off to a good start, allowing the Blue Jays to score twice in the first. The once prized pitching prospect really never found his rhythm on Tuesday, as the Jays scored off him in the third and once again in the fifth. However, Johnson was able to record his first victory as a Major League pitcher. It’s been an interesting journey for Johnson, especially in the last year. He spent a lot of time on the disabled list last year with anxiety issues and during one of his starts in Pawtucket this season he was struck in the head with a ball. After winning Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014, Johnson was able to make his Major League debut with the Red Sox against the Houston Astros in July of 2015. That’s really the last many Red Sox fans have seen of him. After a rough Spring Training in 2017, Johnson started the season with the PawSox yet again. It appears that Johnson won’t be a mainstay in this Red Sox rotation with the eventual return of Eduardo Rodriguez. We’ll have to see how healthy this rotation will stay as I am sure that Johnson or even Kyle Kendrick will be used for spot starts throughout the season.
The Red Sox bullpen did what they had to do until the bottom of the ninth, that’s when things got ugly fast. Heath Hembree came in to relieve Johnson in the sixth and did not allow a run through two innings. Fernando Abad gave up a hit while getting two outs in the eight and Matt Barnes got the last out. With closer Craig Kimbrel being unavailable for today’s game, Barnes would stay out for the ninth. In a 8-4 game, Barnes failed to finish off the Blue Jays. Allowing Russell Martin to score on a Steve Pearce single before giving up a two run home run to pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera which made it a 8-7 game. Luckily, Barnes was able to get Devon Travis out on a line drive to Xander Bogaerts. After a strong start to 2017, Barnes had his first hiccup of the season. Hopefully, he can keep those limited with the vital role he has in the bullpen.
We’re a little more than two weeks into the season, and Mookie Betts finally hit his first home run of the season. Mookie’s first bomb of the season did not disappoint as he launched an absolute shot into left field off Blue Jays reliever Joe Smith. Hanley Ramirez almost hit his first home run of the season, unfortunately, it hit the top off the right field wall, but it was an important hit since it drove in Mookie Betts. Mitch Moreland continues to hit the ball at a torrid pace, recording his league leading tenth double of the season. After starting the season 0 for 12 and looking like a flop, Moreland has been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting better than .400 since then. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval arguably had his best game of the season thus far, collecting three hits, including one from the right side of the plate, which is something that rarely happens. Last note on the offense, batters 1-3, Bogaerts, Benintendi, and Betts went a combined 7 for 15 with 3 RBIs and all recording multiple hits. Also, the funniest moment of the game had to be when Hanley made Mitch Moreland wave at the camera in the Red Sox dugout…
9 down, 85 to go.