On Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that pitching prospect Jalen Beeks would make his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Beeks, 24, has been in the Red Sox organization since he was drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 draft. In 10 starts this season with Triple A Pawtucket, Beeks owns a 2.56 in 56.1 innings pitched. He was named the organizations minor league pitcher of the year last season and there was plenty of hype going into his first start with the Red Sox last night.
With Blake Swihart catching him, the rookie out of Arkansas introduced himself by striking out the first batter he faced in JaCoby Jones on five pitches. After that, five of the next seven batters Beeks faced reached base. A Nick Castellanos single, a Miguel Cabrera walk, a Jeimer Candelario RBI double, a John Hicks two RBI single, a Leonys Martin two run home run, and all of a sudden, the Tigers were up by five runs early. Not the best way to kick off your MLB career, but Beeks did settle down a bit.
From the second to the fourth, the lefty held the Tigers to just one run on three hits and two walks. The fourth and final inning of Beeks’ night was certainly the most impressive, as he retired Castellanos, Cabrera, and Victor Martinez in order to conclude his debut.
Finishing with four strikeouts and 88 total pitches (57 strikes), the former Razorback’s fastball topped out at 93 MPH in the first inning. Not known for his velocity, command was going to be a key part of Beeks’ night, but he left a few pitches over the plate and that came back to hurt him.
Despite the early struggles, the last three innings of Beeks’ debut were certainly encouraging. He will be sent back down to Pawtucket today, but I would not be surprised if we were to see the 24-year-old hurler make a spot start again this season.
In relief of Beeks, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez did a decent enough job of keeping the Red Sox within striking distance over the last five innings.
Johnson surrendered just one run on three hits while fanning five in four innings of work and Velazquez struck out two in a scoreless ninth.
On the other side of things, Alex Cora went with a different looking lineup against Matt Boyd and the Detroit Tigers last night. For instance, Sam Travis was starting left, JD Martinez in right, Christian Vazquez at DH, and the most shocking, Blake Swihart starting behind the plate. WOW.
As he has done so often recently, Andrew Benintendi mashed his fourth home run in five games to lead things off in the first. 402 feet, 107 MPH off the bat.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Tigers starter Matt Boyd held the lineup in check last night. They had a golden opportunity to cut into Detroit’s lead after loading the bases with two outs in the second, but Benintendi grounded into an inning ending double play.
From that point on, Boyd surrendered one more run in the fifth on a Xander Bogaerts RBI groundout that scored Blake Swihart from third before departing with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Against the Tigers bullpen, things did not fare much better for the Red Sox as they did against Boyd. Former Red Sox reliever Alex Wilson got out of the seventh unscathed, Joe Jiminez loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but escaped by striking out Sam Travis and Rafael Devers back to back, and Tigers closer Shane Greene wrapped things up by tossing a scoreless ninth to prevent the sweep.
Some notes from this one:
In this series against Detroit, Andrew Benintendi went 5/15 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in the leadoff spot.
JD Martinez exited this game in the eighth inning with back tightness that has been bothering him since the series in Houston. Despite that discomfort, Martinez expects to be back in the lineup later tonight.
Having taken two out of three from the Tigers, the Red Sox welcome another American League Central foe in the Chicago White Sox for a three game weekend set. At 20-40 on the season, they will be sending righty Dylan Covey (2.82 ERA in 22.1 IP) to the mound for the opener. He will be matched up against Chris Sale (3.00 ERA in 81 IP). Having given up 10 earned runs in his last two starts, Sale will have the opportunity to pick things back up again against one of the worst offensive teams in the American League.
First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM.