RECAP: JBJ hits one to the moon; #RedSox drop game two in Baltimore.

The Red Sox took the field a little later than expected on Saturday because of a little rain delay. First pitch was officially at 7:33, instead of the original 7:10 time. Steven Wright started in this one and, unfortunately for the Red Sox, he put up another clunker of a performance. Giving up four earned runs and nine hits in only 3.2 innings of work is the definition of a disappointing performance. I don’t know if it was because of the rain or not, but it seems that Wright can struggle at times with his knuckleball. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth when Wright surrendered all four runs. Giving up back to back home runs to Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop, then giving up a single to Adam Jones which scored Caleb Joseph. Wright’s night would end sooner than expected, and, once again, a lot of credit has to go to the Red Sox bullpen. Heath Hembree was put in to the game in the fourth and held the Orioles scoreless in 3.1 inning pitched, while striking out five. Robbie Ross Jr. would come in for the eighth and got outs in 1-2-3 fashion. Steven Wright’s inconsistency puts the Red Sox in a unique situation. Wright is out of minor league options, so the only way to send him to Pawtucket would be for him to clear waivers, which is highly unlikely. It’s hard to rely on a starting pitcher when he can only pitch well in certain conditions. If it’s wet, or dry, or humid, you’re getting a different Steven Wright. So, I’m curious to see how that situation plays out.

The only runs the Red Sox scored came on a two run home run from Jackie Bradley Jr. in the top of the third. As it says in the title, JBJ hit an absolute rocket to right field. The ball ended up landing on Eutaw Street, which means that JBJ will get his own plaque, since that’s how the Orioles commemorate those long home runs. This marks the 89th time in Orioles Park history where a ball has landed on Eutaw Street. Jackie’s plaque will look something like this, with the correct information, of course:
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As I said, those two runs were the only runs the Red Sox got across all game. With Dustin Pedroia out of the lineup with that calf issue, Xander Bogaerts led off while Marco Hernandez patrolled second base. Six hits in nine innings is a shame, really. It appears that the Sandy Leon craze is starting to falter, as a 0-4 performance puts his batting average just above the Mendoza line at .205. There’s a good chance that Leon’s struggles could lead to Christian Vasquez seeing more playing time and getting more at bats. The biggest disappointment right now is Hanley Ramirez. Hanley has yet to hit a home run this season, and his batting average is only .211. After the season he had in 2016, you’d expect more out of Hanley, I might even drop him from my fantasy team. With Kevin Gausman coming off his worst start of the season, hopefully, the Red Sox can continue that trend Sunday afternoon.

10 down, 84 to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox loss gets overshadowed by Manny Machado’s late slide.

I’m gonna be honest here when I say that I am not the biggest fan of Manny Machado. I used to like him, and even today I appreciate what he does on the field. But, man, some of the stuff he’s done during games is really questionable. The first time I saw this was in 2014 during a game between the Oakland Athletics and the Orioles.

Then, in the same series, he does this:

The point should be made that this was from three years ago and it does appear that Machado has done some growing up since then. There was another incident last season between Machado and Yordano Ventura (RIP), but I didn’t think Machado was in the wrong for that one, so we’ll move on to the game.

Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz was looking for back to back quality starts on Friday night, facing the Orioles for the second time this season. Pomeranz was not awful, as he kept the Red Sox in the game the entire time he was on the mound, going 5.1 innings and giving up two earned runs and five hits while walking two and striking out four. Again, this was far from a great start, but it certainly wasn’t terrible. With Pomeranz’s ERA currently sitting at 4.60, the type of start we saw on Friday might be his standard. The Red Sox bullpen was able to shut down the Orioles offense, as Joe Kelly went two scoreless while Fernando Abad finished off the bottom of the eighth by getting the last two outs.

The star of the game had to be Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, who pitched seven scoreless, scattering six hits, and only walking one. The Red Sox offense came up short in a game they could have won. The only players that reached base more than once were Marco Hernandez and Dustin Pedroia. Despite leading the league in hits with 162 in 17 games, the Red Sox are only 14th in runs scored, with 69 (nice). This correlation can most likely be attributed to the lack of power in the lineup, since they have only hit 7, which is the worst total in all of baseball. In fact, Brewers first baseman Eric Thames has hit more home runs (8) than the entire Red Sox team. Hopefully, as the weather gets warmer, the balls off the Red Sox bats will travel further, leading to more home runs.

Now, let’s talk about the biggest moment of the game. In the bottom of the eighth, with Manny Machado reaching first on a single, Mark Trumbo grounded out to Marco Hernandez. While Hernandez flipped the ball to Pedroia, Machado slid into the bag. During the slide, Machado’s foot caught the calf of Pedroia, leading to Pedroia being taken out of the game. On Twitter, there was a lot of bickering between Red Sox and Orioles twitter debating if the slide was dirty or not. The beginning of the slide looks fine, but then Machado raises his right leg, which leads to that right cleat going into Pedroia’s left calf.
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With Machado’s history, it’s hard to say this was not a dirty slide. After it happened, it looked like Machado was genuinely upset about what he did, as he tried to keep him up on his feet after. Most of the team was not happy with Machado. Joe Kelly was seen yelling at Machado, and then Brian Butterfield got ejected for arguing with the third base umpire. Anyway, my verdict is…dirty slide.  After the game, Pedroia was asked about the slide, and his response was classic Laser Show:

10 down, 84 to go.  

 

RECAP: Chris Sale records 13 K’s; #RedSox rally late to beat Jays 4-1.

I love Chris Sale. I loved him in Chicago and I love him now. I know that I kind of did this on Saturday when Sale made his last start and I’m gonna do it again. He’s just so fucking good. Eight shutout innings while getting 13 strikeouts, what more can you ask for? And he did this while scattering four hits and only giving up one walk. Chris Sale is a machine. With 102 pitches through eight innings, you’d expect to see Sale come out for the ninth, but did he? Nope. Instead, John Farrell decided to go with closer Craig Kimbrel, who has been on a nice hot streak. The Red Sox scored in the ninth, so I’m not gonna harp on this move too much. I mean, the ninth inning is Kimbrel’s inning. He didn’t pitch on Wednesday so it makes sense to insert him into that situation. Instead of closing out the game, Kimbrel showed flashes of his old(?) self by giving up a solo home run to Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales. I believe that’s the first time Kimbrel and Morales have ever faced each other in a game, so, credit to Morales for coming up big in a clutch situation. Luckily for Kimbrel, Mookie Betts and the Red Sox would answer back (more on that later) in the tenth, which allowed Kimbrel to pick up the victory by getting the Jays 1-2-3 with 3 strikeouts in the bottom of the tenth. Hopefully, his first blown save of the season won’t do anything to effect Kimbrel’s confidence going forward.

It appears that the Red Sox offense is not in favor of scoring runs for Chris Sale. Once again, they gave him absolutely nothing in terms of run support. It’s certainly frustrating that this pattern is staying persistent. In his four starts, the Red Sox have scored a combined three runs when Sale is the pitcher of record. Before Thursday, the Red Sox ranked 16th in the Majors in terms of runs scored, with 65 runs through 15 games. The team also ranks dead last in home runs with a total of 7 on the year. I can understand the lack of power, but this lineup needs to step up. Sooner or later, the luck will run out and they’ll start losing more close games. I remember reading something about how the 2016 Texas Rangers finished with the best record in the American League, but only had a run differential of +8. Look at the Rangers now, currently with the second worst record in the American League. I don’t think anyone wants the Red Sox to turn into that team. After Thursday’s game, the run differential for the Red Sox sits at +3, besides the Blue Jays, that’s the worst run differntial in the division. If the offense continues to struggle into the summer, I wouldn’t be shocked if Dave Dombrowski makes a move for an expiring contract who is having a good year at the plate. It’s too early to give names, but it’s something I’ll be paying attention to.

Anyway, after taking the lead in the top of the ninth on a Xander Bogaerts single that scored Mitch Moreland (league leading 11th double), the top of the lineup got the job done in the tenth. It started when Sandy Leon walked with 1 out. After swapping Leon for Marco Hernandez at first, Brock Holt got a single that moved Hernandez to second. Dustin Pedroia popped out to third baseman Chris Coghlan to make the second out, then Andrew Benintendi walked, which loaded the bases. This led to Mookie Betts, and oh boy, did he come through. On a 2-0 count, Betts smoked one down the third baseline that nearly landed in foul territory. Mookie’s double cleared the bases, scoring Hernandez, Holt, and Benintendi. Overall, this was a great series for Mookie. Getting his first home run on Tuesday, then delivering in the clutch on Thursday has to have him feeling great.

10 down, 84 to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox bats go silent in Toronto in 3-0 loss.

After his worst start since 2015, Rick Porcello was looking for a bounce back performance on Wednesday. Once again, the Red Sox were down early, as the Blue Jays scored three times in the second. Porcello can’t be blamed for those runs, all three runs he gave up were unearned. Errors from Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland along with RBI hits from Darwin Barney and Ezequiel Carrera led to the Jays scoring those runs. Porcello would settle down after the second, finishing his outing with five shutout innings. Porcello gave up six hits, one walk, and five strikeouts while surrendering three unearned runs in seven innings pitched. It certainly wasn’t an outstanding start, but getting a quality start after giving up eight earned runs to the Tampa Bay Rays is pretty good. The only other pitcher to appear for the Red Sox in this game was actually Eduardo Rodriguez, who just came off the paternity list. A 1-2-3 inning is good to see as Rodriguez prepares for his next start on Sunday in Baltimore.

The Red Sox offense could not get anything going on Wednesday. Pablo frickin Sandoval was the only player in the lineup that got more than one hit. Sadly, Mookie Betts struck out for the first time in the regular season since last September, going 129 Plate Appearances in between strikeouts. The Red Sox also failed to record an extra base hit tonight, which would not be surprising to me if that was the first time this happened all season. Catcher Sandy Leon has cooled off, going 0 for 3 tonight watching his batting average dip to .243 on the season. It will be interesting to see how the catching situation continues if Leon continues to struggle at the plate. With Christian Vazquez still hitting .563, John Farrell may look to give him more opportunities at the plate.

9 down, 85 to go. 

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.