RECAP: Red Sox survive late threat to defeat Blue Jays in series opener.

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. 

RECAP: #RedSox improve to 70-52 on Patriots Day; defeat Rays 4-3.

On Monday, the Red Sox took the field at a very unique time, 11 A.M in the morning. For the past 58 years, the Red Sox have had a home game on Patriots Day. It’s a very special day in Boston because of one of its biggest sporting events, The Boston Marathon. Marathon Monday and Red Sox baseball in the morning go together amazingly here in New England. I’d say its one of the best traditions in all of the United States.

The reeling knuckleballer Steven Wright got the start for today’s game, and he got off to  quite simply a terrible start. Three straight hits to start the game led to the Tampa Bay Rays scoring twice in the first, with runs being drove in by Brad Miller and Steven Souza Jr. Wright would settle in after the first however, as he pitched five scoreless innings and got taken out of the game after giving up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. The final line for Wright looks like this: 6+ IP, 9 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), one walk, and four strikeouts. Overall, not a terrible performance from Wright, it was more of a bounce back from his previous two starts. The outing could have gone much worse and Wright will look to build on this performance when he takes the mound against the Orioles.

The Red Sox offense scored all their runs in the first and second innings. Hanley Ramirez drove in the first run, scoring Dustin Pedroia on his single. In the second inning, Andrew Benintendi drove in Marco Hernandez on an RBI single and Mookie Betts drove in Dustin Pedroia with another RBI single. Rays starter Blake Snell deserves some credit for settling down after the second, and so does the Rays bullpen for throwing another three shutout innings. Back to the offense, Andre Benintendi and Mookie Betts both had another multi-hit game, with Benintendi collecting three and Betts collecting two. 9 RBIs in 13 games is nothing to scoff at when it comes to Benintendi, especially with the absence of home runs (his only home run came on Opening Day). Mookie Betts is Mookie Betts. I expect the power to come as the season progresses, but it’s a good start for Mookie with a BA of .325 and an OPS of .800.

Last thing about the game I want to mention is Craig Kimbrel’s save streak. I really think expectations are set too high for Kimbrel because of guys like Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen. Kimbrel isn’t a “super-reliever” like those guys, he’s a flamethrower, plain and simple. Sometimes I think Kimbrel doesn’t even know where some of his fastballs are going, he just whips them. Sure it can be nerve-wracking when he’s out on the mound.but converting 25 straight save opportunities going back to last season.

Also, I was at this game, my first Red Sox game on Patriots Day. Let me tell you, morning baseball is awesome. The fact that you could buy a hot dog and a beer at 9 A.M embodies the American spirit. Being able to watch some of the Marathon runners go through Kenmore Square after the game was pretty cool as well.

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8 down, 86 to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox use late rally to take game three from Rays; win 7-5.

The Red Sox improved their record to 7-5 on Sunday by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5. Drew Pomeranz got the start for the Sox today, looking for his second consecutive victory at Fenway Park. Pomeranz did not start the first inning off well, allowing three runs, two of which came on a Brad Miller triple, while the other run came ona Christian Vasquez passed ball. Overall, it was a wonky outing for Pomeranz, as 10 of the 13 outs he recorded came on strikeouts. Two home runs courtesy of Corey Dickerson and Tim Beckham didn’t help. The Red Sox were able to tie the game in the fourth, but after giving up that home run to Beckham, Pomeranz’s day was done. The bullpen did their job today, pitching 4.2 innings of shutout baseball, including Craig Kimbrel recording his fifth save of the season. After a promising start to 2017, Pomeranz suffered a setback. I don’t want to get worried though, since he did get ten strikeouts. He’ll look to bounce back in his next start against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Red Sox offense showed up today in a big way, recording 17 hits while six different players recorded multiple hits. Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Christian Vazquez accounted for 9 of the 17 Red Sox hits. Pablo Sandoval hit his third home run on the season and collected his 9th RBI. Despite batting a disappointing .143 (6 for 42) Sandoval actually leads the team in home runs and RBIs as of Sunday. Mitch Moreland got yet another double today and he leads the league with 9 on the year. Christian Vazquez continues to be a surprise with the bat this season, raising his BA to .667 on the season. A big scare came in the seventh inning when Hanley Ramirez came up limping after reaching second on a Mitch Moreland RBI single. Hanley was diagnosed with a cramp in his left hamstring, and he nor John Farrell expect it to keep him out of the lineup for tomorrow’s series finale. I am actually going to the game tomorrow and I am looking forward to what the Patriots Day/Marathon Monday experience at Fenway Park is like.

7 down, 87 to go.          

RECAP: Chris Sale stays dominant and earns first victory in a #RedSox uniform.

Chris Sale is a stud, plain and simple. A bona-fide ace who can handle the media and criticism is Boston, unlike other players who have put on a Red Sox uniform. Chris Sale is a calming presence in the Red Sox clubhouse. I don’t know how much confidence I would have on this team if it were not for Chris Sale. During spring training, there were plenty of injuries to key players like David Price and Tyler Thornburg. The fact that the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale seemed to mask any angst Red Sox fans may have had. Having one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball can do that. What I’m saying is Chris Sale may reach icon status in Boston sooner rather than later.

Anyway, Chris Sale looked dominant today as he recorded 12 strikeouts over 7 innings while only giving up three hits and three walks. Sale really never found himself to be in any troublesome situations today, as an Evan Longoria single that scored Kevin Kiermaier was the only run that scored for the Rays. Sale left after pitching seven innings of run ball and obtaining his first victory for the Red Sox was still in question. Matt Barnes came in relief for Sale in the eight and despite allowing two walks and only getting one out, was able to get out of trouble when Evan Longoria grounded into an inning ending double play. Craig Kimbrel came in for the save in the ninth and was able to get the Rays in shutout fashion. Kimbrel recorded his 4th save of the season and extended his save streak to 22 straight save opportunities, despite all the concern.

The Red Sox offense only scored two runs today, and Mitch Moreland scored both of them. The first one was on a solo home run, Moreland’s first of the season, and the second came on a Sandy Leon ground out. The starting pitcher for the Rays today was Jake Odorizzi. After only pitching one shutout inning, Odorizzi had to be taken out because of an issue he was having with a hamstring. The Rays had to rely on their bullpen with four different pitchers pitching eight innings and only giving up two total runs, which is not too shabby. The game was tied for most of the game, as the Red Sox did not take the lead until the bottom of the seventh. After splitting the first two games in this series, the Red Sox will look to win out and take this series from the Rays over the next two days.

6 down, 88 to go. 

RECAP: Porcello struggles against Rays; Red Sox lose 10-5

Red Sox ace Rick Porcello did not look like himself last night, as he gave up a whopping eight earned runs over 4.1 innings pitched. It was a very unusual start for Porcello, in fact, it was his worst start since 2015. So, some credit goes to him for being so good for that extended period of time. Pitching 15 quality starts in a row before his outing last night is really impressive stuff. Anyway, the weirdest part of Porcello’s night had to be giving up four home runs, including a grand slam from Rays first baseman Logan Morrison. I’m not going to say Rick Porcello was awful before last night, but we certainly haven’t seen the Rick Porcello that locked down the American League Cy Young Award last season. Through three starts, Porcello has given up 25 hits over 16.2 innings, certainly not Cy Young Award winning stuff. With an ERA in the sevens and a WHIP of 1.74, Porcello will need to turn things around next time he takes the mound. In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen did not do anything to help the team. Robbie Ross Jr. struggled last night, as he gave up two more runs in 2.2 innings pitched. Fernando Abad and Robby Scott were able to hold it down though, pitching a combined two shutout innings while only allowing the Rays to reach base twice.

Rays starter Chris Archer recorded his first win against the Red Sox since 2012, pitching 5.2 innings of one run ball. The Red Sox offense couldn’t put anything together against Archer. Catcher Sandy Leon has cooled off modestly as his batting average now sits at .296. Xander Bogaerts continues to see the ball well, collecting another three hits while driving in a run. Mookie Betts had his best offensive game of the 2017 thus far, reaching base 4 times on 4 hits, including a double. 10 games into the season and I’d say I am most impressed with what Andrew Benintendi has been doing at the plate. Sure, he’s not hitting for a phenomenal average, .263, but he has reached base in all 10 games, and he has already collected 7 RBIs. Put it this way, in 105 AB’s last season, Benintendi only collected 14 RBIs. Through 38 AB’s this season, he already has collected 50% of that amount, so there is clearly a progression there. Most of the damage the Red Sox did last night came in the bottom of the 9th, scoring 3 of their 5 runs. The Red Sox actually out hit the Rays last night, despite taking the loss. Also, Mitch Moreland sadly failed to record a double last night. Hopefully, he can start a new streak today.

5 down, 89 to go. 

RECAP: Red Sox capitalize in eighth to sweep Pirates; win 4-3.

Once again, the Red Sox were trailing pretty much right after first pitch. Eduardo Rodriguez was on the bump today, and boy, did he have a shaky start. Giving up a two run shot to Andrew McCutchen in the top of the first is not nice. Rodriguez would settle down after that though, pitching four shutout innings until the sixth, as a throwing error by Christian Vazquez allowed Gregory Polanco to score from third. Rodriguez’s day would be done after 5.1 innings, a solid performance, which I did not expect after that rocky first inning. The bullpen turned in another quality performance, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel combined to give up only three hits and zero runs over 3.2 innings pitched. With many expecting Joe Kelly to be the setup man, Matt Barnes has certainly certified himself of that role in the bullpen. So far this season, Barnes has given up 0 runs while striking out 7 over 4.2 total innings. His ERA obviously sits at 0.00 while his WHIP sits at a very impressive 0.64.

The Red Sox offense was having another quiet day up until the bottom of the eighth, only scoring once in the second before that. After loading the bases in the eighth, Hanley Ramirez came up clutch with a bases clearing double scoring Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi, while Mookie Betts was called out at home. One batter later, Xander Bogaerts was able to get a hit off of Juan Nicasio, which allowed Hanley to score from third. Craig Kimbrel would come in for the 9th and was able to end the game after facing four batters. It appears that the return of both Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts to the Red Sox lineup has helped give this offense a boost. Mitch Moreland continues to impress, as he hit ANOTHER double. Word to Mitchy Two Bags!!!

5 down, 89 to go. 

RECAP: Wright, Red Sox split series with Orioles; lose 12-5

The Red Sox were losing the moment they took the field. By the time Steven Wright got out of the first inning, the Orioles had already put 6 runs on the board. In the second inning, Wright gave up another two runs and was taken out after recording only four outs total. The bullpen was not stellar either. Ben Taylor, Fernando Abad (Whoa), Joe Kelly, and Robby Scott gave up a combined 4 earned runs and 9 hits over 7.2 innings. Actually, don’t include Robby Scott in that group because he was the only Red Sox reliever to not give up any runs.

Not much to say about the Red Sox offense. Pablo Sandoval hit his second home run of the season. He’s still batting .133, but the home run is a positive step. Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts went a combined 5 for 9. I hope and pray that Bogaerts gets moved up in the batting order. Batting him sixth will most likely limit his productivity, and that’s not nice. The Red Sox actually got back in this game, at one point they were down 9-5 with the bases loaded, but could not capitalize. Then, the Orioles tacked on an additional 3 runs in the top of the 7th and that was that. Also, Mitch Moreland hit ANOTHER double, he now has 7 doubles in 8 games, and his 7 doubles account for 70% of his hits.

4 down, 90 to go. 

RECAP: Pomeranz shines in 2017 debut; Red Sox down Orioles 8-1.

Drew Pomeranz took the mound for his first start of the 2017 season on Tuesday night, and he looked dominant. Giving up ony one run and four hits over 6+ innings while recording six strikeouts is quite impressive. Expectations were very low for Pomeranz, as many were expecting the 28 year-old to get shelled by Baltimore’s lineup. I had Pomeranz starting for my fantasy team yesterday, so I was very impressed with the outing. The only run he gave up came in the top of the 7th and that probably should not have happened. After completing six shutout innings, Pomeranz was sent back out to face Chris Davis. Unfortunately for Pomeranz, Davis was able to get a hit off of him, and that was the last batter he faced. I did not see the point in bringing Pomeranz back out for the seventh, especially if he was just going to face Chris Davis no matter what happened. Despite that, it was a good first step for Pomeranz’s 2017 season. After getting hurt in Fort Myers, Pomeranz was able to silence his doubters while picking up his first career victory at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox offense was actually productive last night, and what do you know, Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts were back in the lineup. It was a big night for Dustin Pedroia, collecting 4 RBI’s while reaching base twice on two singles. The biggest surprise of the night, though, was Christian Vazquez, who went 4 for 4 with a triple and two RBI’s. Vazquez is not known for his offense, so this was certainly not expected. It will be interesting to see how he builds on this performance in the limited role he has behind Sandy Leon.

The offense did most of their damage in the later innings, scoring a combined six runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy was putting together a solid performance through six innings, only giving up two runs. Things changed in the bottom of the seventh though. After walking Pablo Sandoval with 1 out, Darren O’Day came in to relieve Bundy. Chris Young reached on an error, Vasquez singled, then Pedroia drove in Sandoval and Young with a single. The scoring concluded after Vazquez scored on an Andrew Benintendi single. In the eighth inning, Orioles reliever Oliver Drake, a Massachussetts native, got rocked for three runs on five hits. Vazquez stayed hot by driving in Bogaerts and Young on a triple, and Pedroia stayed hot (7 game hit streak to start the season) by driving in Vazquez on an RBI single. In the top of the ninth, Joe Kelly took the mound and was able to end the game by pitching a shutout inning.

This may be the best overall game from the 2017 Red Sox thus far. Plenty of scoring, capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes, and solid pitching all around make for a feel-good victory. This team can only get better as they get healthier, the flu has nothing on them.

Oh yeah, Mitch Moreland hit another double by the way, now leads the league with six of them. So, shout out to Mitchy Two Bags.

4 down, 90 to go. 

RECAP: Red Sox don’t use Sale’s start to their advantage; lose finale in Detroit.

The Red Sox dropped the fourth and final game of this series against the Tigers. Chris Sale took the loss, a bad luck loss to say the least, and Justin Wilson picked up his first victory of the season. As I said, Chris Sale is not to blame for this loss, he nearly pitched eight full innings while striking out 10 and only walking 1. Unfortunately for Sale, the opposing starter, Justin Verlander was just as good, only giving up 1 unearned run and three hits over 7 innings. It appeared that Chris Sale started running out of gas when his pitch count was around 100. Sale was rolling, giving up only run through seven innings. The eighth inning was a different story, though. After giving up a two out double to Andrew Romine, Sale followed that up by walking Ian Kinsler. With men on first and second, Nick Castellanos got the best of Sale, knocking in Romine with a base hit. This was it for Sale, as he came out with 2 outs in the 8th and Heath Hembree finished off the inning.

The Red Sox offense could not formulate any type of rally today and they continue to look sluggish. First baseman Mitch Moreland had the hottest bat today, notching three hits, including a double, in four plate appearances. It looks like Moreland has adjusted well since Opening Day, as he has gotten his Batting Average up to .333 and his OPS to an impressive .927. The rest of the Red Sox lineup looked dismal and the only other player that recorded a hit was Dustin Pedroia. It’s still a waste of energy to get too concerned about the offensive production coming from this team since we have barely seen Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts. Until this lineup is fully healthy, I’m not going to get too worked up. I like what I’ve seen from players like Mitch Moreland and Sandy Leon. One player I am concerned about is Pablo Sandoval, who has started the season by batting a measly .130. The Red Sox really do not have a long-term solution if Sandoval fails to pick things up. Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, and Marco Hernandez are all capable of playing third base, but they are relied on for their versatility. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if Sam Travis converts to a third baseman in Pawtucket since that would be similar to what happeened with Travis Shaw. Another option at the hot corner could be prized prospect Rafael Devers. The 20 year old has started this season in Portland and it feels like he’s been in the organization forever. If he progresses in Portland like Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi did, then perhaps he could be an option later in the season.

Also, bad news with JBJ. He just got put on the new 10 day Disabled List with a sprain in his right knee. I did not think it would come to this, even Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations, said a few days ago that JBJ shouldn’t have to go one the DL. It is what it is, and it looks like Andrew Benintendi will take over in center based on what is being reported.

3 down, 91 to go. 

RECAP: Red Sox pick up first road victory of season.

The Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-5 on Sunday. Rick Porcello made the start against his old team while Daniel Norris took the mound for the Tigers. Porcello never really found any rhythm during his 6+ innings, as he gave up a total of 11 hits while also striking out 8. Norris was solid for the Tigers today, as he gave up three runs in 6.1 innings while giving up seven hits, three walks, and only striking out 2.

Matt Barnes looked really good out of the bullpen today, pitching two shutout innings in relief of Porcello. The closer, Craig Kimbrel, continues to struggle in games he pitches where he has a lead larger than one run. He was able to pick up the save, but not before giving up two walks, a hit, and a run. The Red Sox were lucky the Tigers bullpen was so awful today. Bruce Rondon came into pitch the 8th inning and he failed to record an out while giving up three earned runs. Kyle Ryan came in after Rondon, and he gave up another run before finishing the inning. This was the rally the Red Sox needed since it gave them the lead. A similar situation occurred on Friday when the Red Sox scored 5 runs in the eighth to take the lead, but the bullpen blew it. Today though, the bullpen only gave up one run, from Kimbrel, in a combined three innings of work.

Back to the Red Sox offense, the biggest surprise of the day was Marco Hernandez, who recorded three hits in four plate appearances batting out of the nine-hole. Another positive is how well Sandy Leon has been swinging the bat to start off the season. Today, he went two for four with a double and two RBI’s. That puts his batting average at .438 after appearing in five games. It was nice to see Mookie Betts return to the lineup today, and it looks like Xander and Hanley will be returning shortly. Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. was held out of the lineup today, which was concerning, but from what they were saying, it still doesn’t sound like anything serious.

3 down, 91 to go.