David Price Shines with Seven Scoreless Innings and Xander Bogaerts Drives in All Four Runs as #RedSox Blank Orioles

For the first time this season, the Red Sox will not lose a series, as they defeated the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday by a final score of 4-0 to at least guarantee a series-split with the finale between the two clubs set for Monday.

Starting pitching has been a hot topic in Boston lately, but it looks as though things may be turning for the better more than two weeks into the 2019 campaign.

Eduardo Rodriguez came through with a quality outing against the O’s to start the weekend, and less than 48 hours later, David Price was even better.

Making his third start of the season on Sunday, Price was borderline brilliant, holding Baltimore scoreless while limiting them to just three hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over seven impressive innings of work.

Retiring nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, the left-hander really was not under too much pressure in this one.

There was an instance in the fourth where Joey Rickard led things off for Baltimore by reaching second on a Rafael Devers throwing error, but Christian Vazquez was able to cancel that out by throwing Rickard out at third on a stolen base attempt.

And in the final two frames Price pitched in, the Orioles led each inning off with doubles from Richie Martin and Trey Mancini, and despite having the then tying run in scoring position with no outs, the 33-year-old managed to escape the sixth and seventh without a scratch.

Finishing with an economical final pitch count of 92 (64 strikes), Price relied heavily on his two-seam fastball, throwing the pitch 33 times and inducing five swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 94 MPH with both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, according to Statcast.

Lowering his ERA from 6.00 to 3.79 in one outing, Price’s next start should come against the Tampa Bay Rays next weekend.

In relief of Price, the recently overworked Red Sox bullpen was only responsible for the final two innings on Sunday, and they capped off the shutout.

Working the eighth, Ryan Brasier danced his way around a one out walk and two out single to strand what would have been the tying run for Baltimore at third base, notching his first hold of the season in the process.

And in the ninth, after his team jumped out to a four-run lead, Matt Barnes also gave up one walk in one base hit while fanning a pair in a scoreless frame, locking down Boston’s third win in the last four days.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles left-hander John Means, whose big league debut came at Fenway Park last September.

Starting a relatively quiet day of scoring on Sunday was Xander Bogaerts, whose fourth inning RBI sacrfice fly to plate Steve Pearce would have been the only run the Red Sox would need to pick up the W in this one.

However, after squandering a couple of scoring opportunities over the middle portion of this contest, Bogaerts was it again in the bottom half of the eighth.

With one out in the inning and Mookie Betts and JD Martinez at first and second, Bogaerts essentially put this game away on one swing of the bat, launching a three-run, 418 foot home run to dead center for his second big fly of the season.

That made it a 4-0 game at the time it was blasted, and that would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi had to depart from this contest after fouling a ball off his right foot in the third inning. He did manage to stay in the game after the blow, and actually laced a double down the left field line, but his day came to a close before the Red Sox took the field in the fourth.

Blake Swihart filled in for Benintendi for the remainder of Sunday’s win. Benintendi was ruled day-to-day with a right foot contusion.

This comes on the same day that Jackie Bradley Jr. was ruled from the Red Sox’ lineup due to flu-like symptoms, so the outfield situation could be pretty interesting Monday depending on the statuses of those two.

The Red Sox are 3-1 in their last four games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an early start for Patriots Day Monday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is slated to get the start for Boston, while fellow right-hander and former Miami Marlin Dan Straily will do the same for Baltimore.

In his last time starting a game, Velazquez dazzled against the Arizona Diamondbacks out in the desert, twirling three scoreless inning to go along with three strikeouts.

Straily, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 6.00 ERA over two previous starts at Fenway Park.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 11:05 AM EDT, weather permitting.

Happy Marathon Monday, everyone.

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Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses, Andrew Benintendi Homers, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Dazzles with Glove as #RedSox Take Opener from Orioles

For the first time this season, the Red Sox have won back-to-back games following a 6-4 victory to open up a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Entering Friday, Red Sox starting pitchers ranked dead last in all of baseball in terms of ERA as a group (8.79). Eduardo Rodriguez had the chance to improve that mark in his first outing in front of the Fenway faithful since last year, and that he did.

Making his third start of the season overall, Rodriguez put together the best start from any Red Sox starter 14 games into 2019, as he surrendered just two earned runs on three hits and no walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.

Retiring the first 14 Orioles hitters he faced in this one, the left-hander’s bid for a perfect game came to an end when Hanser Alberto grounded a two-out single to left in the top half of the fifth.

After a seemingly clean sixth inning, Rodriguez’s evening would come to a close an inning later following a one out double from Trey Mancini and a two out, two-run home run off the bat of Dwight Smith Jr to make it a one-run contest at the time it was hit.

That homer, the third Rodriguez has yielded this season already, may have been on the last pitch the Venezuela native threw, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless, especially when you take the zero walks into consideration.

Working at a quick tempo all night, Rodriguez finished with a final pitch count of 93 (62 strikes). In total, he topped out at 95.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 48 times and got eight swinging strikes out of.

It was the first time a Red Sox starter has pitched into the seventh inning this season. Rodriguez’s next start should come against the New York Yankees next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen limited the Orioles bats to two runs over the final 3.1 innings of this one.

Matt Barnes, who entered this contest after Rodriguez gave up that two-run homer to Smith, retired the side in the seventh while also recording two strikeouts.

Brandon Workman worked his way around a two out walk and received some tremendous assistance from Jackie Bradley Jr. to keep it a one-run game in the eighth.

And in the ninth, Tyler Thornburg came on for his first relief appearance since Tuesday with a four-run cushion to work with, but trimmed his team’s lead in half after serving up another two-run dinger to Renato Nunez.

Thornburg did manage to record one out before making way for Ryan Brasier, who earned his third save of the season by retiring the final two hitters he faced, including Chris Davis on that third and final out. Davis is now 0-for-his-last-54 at the plate dating back to 2018.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles right-hander David Hess to start this one out on Friday.

It took a little while for them to get going, but once the Red Sox bats began to figure Hess out, the hard contact was consistently there, and that was evident by Andrew Benintendi going deep the first time this season with a third inning solo shot to give his team an early lead.

An inning later, Mitch Moreland got a two-run rally started by lining a leadoff single up the middle for his second hit of the night. He would come around to score on a 106 MPH RBI double courtesy of Xander Bogaerts, who also crossed the plate on another hard-hit RBI knock from Eduardo Nunez. 3-0.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after Christian Vazquez had scored Boston’s fourth run on a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Paul Fry in the seventh, and Nunez was back at it again. This time delivering with his second RBI single of the night to plate JD Martinez from third and advance Xander Bogaerts from second.

Bogaerts, with one run scored under his belt already, would also score his team’s sixth and final run of the day thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. sacrifice fly. That made it a 6-2 game, which is all the runs the Red Sox would need to pick up the win.

Some notes from this win:

In 10 games, this month, Mitch Moreland is slashing .313/.371/1.152 with four home runs and nine RBI.

Through seven appearances this season, Brandon Workman has given up just one hit and three walks over 6.1 total scoreless innings.

The Red Sox are 2-0 in their last two games and 3-1 in their last four.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be a starting pitching matchup that features two veteran right-handers in the form of Andrew Cashner for Baltimore and Rick Porcello for Boston.

Cashner, 32, last made a start at Fenway Park when he was the Texas Rangers in 2017. He gave up five runs over five innings in a losing effort in that outing, and comes into Saturday with a 5.28 ERA on the 2019 season so far.

Porcello, meanwhile, has yet to make it to the sixth inning through two forgettable starts this year.

In his career against the Orioles, the 30-year-old hurler is 6-11 with a lifetime 4.62 ERA over a span of 20 starts and 122.1 innings pitched.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third consecutive win.

 

Blake Swihart Celebrates Birthday with Home Run, Three Hits as #RedSox Snap Four-Game Skid in Oakland

After going the first two nights of April without a win or even a run scored, the Red Sox broke out in style in Oakland Wednesday night, putting an end to their four-game losing streak with a clutch 6-3 victory over the Athletics.

Making his second start of the season and second consecutive start against an American League West foe in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who entered Wednesday with three previous career starts at the Oakland Coliseum under his belt.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander was essentially in damage control all night, limiting the A’s to three runs on four hits, four walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

Similar to his last outing against the Mariners, Eovaldi was a bit erratic yet again, but he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, yielding just one two-run home run to Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the fourth inning.

After giving up that homer to Laureano though, which made it a 3-0 game in favor of Oakland at the time, the 29-year-old settled in a bit by retiring the final six hitters he faced through the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 96 (51 strikes) Eovaldi topped out at 98.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 35 times. His next start should come next Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen turned in yet another solid performance, as Colten Brewer, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final four frames of this one.

Brewer, in his third appearance for Boston, fanned a pair over the sixth and parts of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes with one out to get in the inning.

Barnes, who we last saw close out the Red Sox’ first win of the season last Friday, punched out the only batter he faced in the seventh before stranding a runner at third in the eighth with the help of Brock Holt.

Holt, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, dazzled with a cross-body throw as his momentum was taking him towards third to get Laureano out at first. That kept Marcus Semien from scoring from third and thus kept this contest tied at three runs a piece headed into the ninth.

It officially goes down as a 6-3 ground out, but it was really much more than that from Holt, who did not start at shortstop during the spring.

After Boston jumped out to a three-run lead of their own in their half of the ninth, in came Ryan Brasier to shut the door on the A’s in the bottom half of the frame.

Making his third appearance out of the bullpen this season, the 31-year-old hurler worked his way around a leadoff HBP to sit down the final three hitters of the night, notching his first career save in the process.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Athletics right-hander Marco Estrada to start things out.

An old friend from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, the seasoned Estrada held the Boston bats in check up until the fifth.

With their scoreless-innings streak reaching 22, Blake Swihart broke the club’s offensive slump by launching his first home run of the season with two outs in the fifth.

A 415 foot shot to center field to put his team on the board for the first time this month, that is quite a way to celebrate a 27th birthday.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts leadoff walk would ultimately spell the end for Estrada, who was pulled after surrendering another free pass to JD Martinez to load the bases for Boston with just one out in the sixth.

With A’s reliever Ryan Buchter now in, Mitch Moreland did not waste any time with a pitcher he had only faced off against once before Wednesday, as he squared up on a first pitch fastball and ripped a double down the right field line.

That allowed Betts and Rafael Devers to score from second and third, and just like that, the Red Sox were back in it.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with things still tied and another old friend in Fernando Rodney now on the mound for Oakland, Swihart came to the plate having already collected two hits.

With just one out to work with, the Red Sox backstop singled on a ground ball to right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by doing the same.

A wild pitch from Rodney allowed the pair of runners to advance to second and third, meaning the go-ahead run was only 90 feet away from scoring.

Mookie Betts, who was at the plate for that wild pitch, made the A’s pay for their mistake by turning a grounder that just so happened to deflect off the third base bag into a game-winning two-run double.

If that ball was hit to Matt Chapman, the inning presumably ends without a Red Sox crossing the plate.

Instead, the 2018 AL MVP came through big time, and Andrew Benintendi showed some signs of life by driving in Betts from second on an RBI triple to make it a 6-3 contest, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Happy belated 27th birthday to Blake Swihart!

JD Martinez has started his second season in Boston with a seven-game hitting streak. He is 10/28 with two home runs and seven RBI to kick off the 2019 campaign.

According to ESPN, the Red Sox bullpen has posted a 2.42 ERA over their first 26 innings of work. That is the fifth-best mark in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to depart from the Bay Area with a series-split against the A’s in hand.

It will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers for the series finale, as Eduardo Rodriguez and Brett Anderson are slated to start for their respective sides.

Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA), owns a 1.69 ERA in two career starts and 16 total innings of work at the Oakland Coliseum.

Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA), meanwhile, owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Red Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on this getaway day.

Mitch Moreland Comes Through with Go-Ahead, Pinch-Hit Three-Run Home Run as #RedSox Rally to Top Mariners

After dropping their first game of the season on Thursday night, the Red Sox, like they did last year, bounced back with a come from behind 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners, marking their first win of 2019.

Making his first start of the 2019 season in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who had only ever pitched at T-Mobile Field once before in his career.

Following up a performance in which Chris Sale surrendered seven runs and three home runs to Seattle on Opening Day, Eovaldi himself struggled on Friday.

Working the first five innings, the right-hander allowed six runs, all earned, on eight hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts. Similarly to Sale, three of those Seattle hits were home runs, courtesy of Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana in the first, and Omar Narvaez in the second.

It wasn’t just the home runs that were concerning though, it was the fact that Mariners hitters were making really solid contact off of Eovaldi’s pitches.

According to Statcast, the 29-year-old hurler gave up hits that had a registered exit velocity of 108.4 MPH, 107.7 MPH, 106 MPH, and 105.9 MPH.

If there is a positive to be taken away from this outing, it’s that Eovaldi’s arsenal is still as nasty as ever, he retired the final three hitters he faced in order in the fifth, and Jackie Bradley Jr. defensive highlights are back.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (63 strikes) and a top velocity of 99.5 MPH with his four-seamer, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Oakland Athletics next Thursday.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen was actually nearly perfect, with Colten Brewer, Brandon Workman, Brian Johnson, and Matt Barnes combining to hold the Mariners scoreless on just two walks over the final four innings on Friday.

Brewer, in his official Red Sox debut, worked his way around those two walks by getting Jay Bruce to ground out to second to end the sixth.

Workman retired the side in order in the seventh, while Johnson, appearing in a game for the second consecutive night, struck out the side in the eighth. He was also credited with Boston’s first winning decision of the 2019 season.

And finally in the ninth, after his team had just gone up by one run, in came Matt Barnes, Red Sox closer.

Barnes, in his fourth full big league season now, did not need to over-exert himself in his first relief appearance of 2019, as he sat down the Mariners in 1-2-3 fashion to earn his first save since 2017.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mariners left-hander Yusei Kikuchi to start things out on Friday.

In his first season in the majors after coming over from Japan last offseason, Kikuchi did a solid job of holding the Boston bats in check in his first start in Seattle.

Beginning in the second inning, Xander Bogaerts provided the Red Sox with their first run of the evening by mashing his first home run of the year. He’s coming off a 2018 season in which he belted a career-best 23 of those.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the Mariners had jumped out to a 6-1 lead, and it looked like a promising start to the inning with both Rafael Devers and Sam Travis reaching base with no outs, but just one run would manage to score on a GIDP off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. with Devers coming in from third. 6-2 Seattle.

That deficit for the Red Sox would shrink a bit an inning later though, as JD Martinez, like Bogaerts, also delivered with his first homer of the season, a two out 428 foot shot to dead center to make it a 6-3 contest.

In the eighth, with reliever Zac Rosscup now in the game for Seattle, a Christian Vazquez leadoff home run probably should have been the catalyst of a mult-run Red Sox rally.

Instead, after Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts all reached base to load the bases and the Mariners swapped out Rosscup for Cory Gearrin, Eduardo Nunez fell short by hitting into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

A bizarre play to say the least, given the fact that Nunez just stopped and watch the play transpire rather than run to first base after avoiding the tag from Gearrin.

It looked as if it was going to be all gloom and doom from there, and the Red Sox were about to start a season 0-2 for the first time since 2012

But, in similar fashion to what they did in 2018, they rallied back in a tremendous way in their half of the ninth.

With new Mariners closer Hunter Strickland, a former Red Sox draft pick, in to protect a two-run lead, Rafael Devers got the late rally started with a line drive double to the opposite field.

Blake Swihart, who came on to pinch-hit for Sam Travis, unintentionally advanced Devers to third thanks to a passed ball and was awarded first after taking a slider from Strickland off his left toe.

Coming to the plate with the opportunity to make it a one-run game at the very least, Bradley Jr. was unable to score Devers, as the young third baseman was thrown out trying to score on a soft grounder to first.

Down to their final two outs with runners at first and second, in came another key substitution in Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Christian Vazquez.

Similarly enough to what he did for the Red Sox coming off the bench in last year’s World Series, Moreland came through in the clutch yet again, delivering big time with the go-ahead three-run bomb to right field.

It was pretty evident that Strickland wasn’t exactly himself in this one, and that home run, which registered an exit velocity of 114 MPH, was quite evident of that.

Moreland’s first long ball of 2019 put the Red Sox up 7-6, and that would go on to be the final score in Boston’s first win of the season.

Some notes from this win:

As I mentioned earlier, the Red Sox hadn’t started a season 0-2 since 2012, and some guys seemed to be aware of that following Friday’s win.

Including the postseason, the Red Sox are 12-0 in games when Christian Vazquez hits a home run.

The Brock Holt/JD Martinez bromance is back in our lives.

More from Holt:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to improve to 2-1 on the young season later Saturday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be getting the ball for the first time in 2019 for Boston, while right-hander Mike Leake will do the same for Seattle.

Rodriguez, 25, owns a 3.57 ERA over 17.2 innings pitched in three career starts at T-Mobile Field.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 9:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Chris Sale Gets Lit up for Seven Runs as #RedSox Get Blown out by Mariners on Opening Day

Exactly five months after clinching their ninth World Series title in franchise history, the Red Sox set out on the journey to defend that crown, starting with an Opening Day showdown against the Seattle Mariners at the newly-minted T-Mobile Park out in the Pacific Northwest.

Getting the start for Boston in this one, as announced last week, was none other than ace left-hander Chris Sale.

The new $145 million man, who also recorded the last out of that 2018 World Series against the Dodgers, did not have himself an Opening Day to remember in this one.

Working just the first three innings on Thursday, Sale surrendered seven earned runs on six hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with four strikeouts on the night. Three of those Mariners hits were home runs, with a pair coming from infielder Tim Beckham and the other coming from Edwin Encarnacion.

Control was clearly an issue for Sale in his first meaningful start of 2019, and according to Statcast, the 29-year-old failed to induce one swing and miss when throwing his four-seam fastball, which he went to 25 times.

Also using Statcast, Sale’s fastball topped out at 94.5 MPH in the first inning. His average fastball velocity on the night was 92.3 MPH, which incrementally decreased from inning to inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (45 strikes), Sale’s next start should come against the Oakland Athletics next Wednesday. Perhaps with some more innings under his belt after a fairly light spring, we’ll see a more improved Sale in his next time out.

In relief of Sale, Hector Velazquez. Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, and Brian Johnson combined to give up five more runs, four of which were earned, on six hits, two walks, one HBP, and five strikeouts over the final five frames on Thursday.

Velazquez, who figures to take on a long-relief/spot start role this season, was responsible for three of those runs, with one of them coming on a Ryon Healy fifth inning solo homer.

After loading the bases with one out in the sixth, Heath Hembree would enter his first contest of 2019 to try and escape the jam, but would give up an additional pair of runs on a bases-loaded walk and Eduardo Nunez fielding error. Both runs (one earned) were charged to Velazquez.

From there, Tyler Thornburg’s 2019 debut didn’t go quite as planned, as the ex-Brewer allowed two more Mariners runs to score while serving up Seattle’s fifth home run of the evening courtesy of Domingo Santana.

And finally, Brian Johnson, who should be starting Tuesday in Oakland if the Red Sox remain committed to a six-man rotation, had the best outing of any Boston reliever, limiting Seattle to just one base runner in a scoreless eighth inning of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales to start things out in Seattle’s home opener.

Entering Thursday having already made an official start last week in Tokyo, Gonzales looked fairly shaky early against the defending World Series champions.

In fact, three straight one out first inning hits from Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez resulted in Boston’s first run of the season to cross the plate on an RBI single from Martinez.

Just an inning later, a Mariners E3 that allowed Eduardo Nunez to reach first to leadoff the second allowed another Red Sox run to score, this one coming after Nunez had advanced to third and Andrew Benintendi had driven him in with an RBI sacrifice fly to shallow left field.

So, with an early 2-0 lead, things were looking pretty good for the Red Sox, until they weren’t, because Gonzales got into a bit of a groove from the beginning of the third inning up until the sixth.

There, Nunez was at it again, this time leading the inning off with a line drive double.

After a Jackie Bradley Jr. strikeout and an apparent balk committed by Gonzales, Christian Vazquez came through with his first RBI of 2019 by pulling a double to left field, allowing Nunez to score.

That run-scoring two-bagger would mark the end of the night for Gonzales, who was replaced in favor of fellow southpaw and ex-Red Sox hurler Roenis Elias.

Matched up against Benintendi in his first action of the game, Benintendi won the lefty-on-lefty matchup, pulling an RBI single to right to drive in Vazquez.

At the time, that cut Seattle’s lead to four runs, but as the final score of 12-4 indicates, the Mariners would go on a little run of their own to put this one out of reach for the Red Sox in their first loss of the 2019 season.

Some notes from this loss:

The seven runs given up by Chris Sale are tied for the most he has given up in a Red Sox uniform.

Per WEEI’s Evan Drellich, “the 2018 Red Sox allowed 12 runs or more only three times. The season high for runs allowed was 13.”

From the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, when speaking with Red Sox manager Alex Cora:

An ugly loss to be sure, but let’s not forget how Opening Day last year went with that blown lead in Tampa Bay.

Compared to other teams, this Red Sox club had an atypical spring coming off a 2018 in which they played deep into October. It could take some time until we see this team at their full capacity. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, next up for the Red Sox, it will be a starting pitching matchup featuring right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi on Friday

Eovaldi, entering his first full season with Boston, has only pitched at T-Mobile Field once before in his seven-year career.

For Seattle, Kikuchi allowed two runs (one earned) over 4 2/3 innings in his first career start against the Oakland Athletics last week in Tokyo.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Time to put that first win on the board.

#RedSox Manager Alex Cora Announces Opening Day Starting Lineup, Featuring Andrew Benintendi Leading off and Christian Vazquez Catching Chris Sale

With Opening Day just mere hours away, Red Sox manager Alex Cora on Wednesday announced the starting lineup for his team’s first game of the 2019 season against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.

  1. Benintendi, LF
  2. Betts, RF
  3. Devers, 3B
  4. Martinez, DH
  5. Bogaerts, SS
  6. Moreland, 1B
  7. Nunez, 2B
  8. Bradley Jr., CF
  9. Vazquez, C
    Sale, SP

To nobody’s surprise, Andrew Benintendi will be serving as Boston’s leadoff man for the majority of the season, as announced by Cora himself last December.

In 97 career plate appearances batting leadoff for Boston, the 24-year-old outfielder, who is entering his third full big league season, is slashing .322/.381/.598 with seven doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 15 RBI.

After Benintendi, Mookie Betts will be sliding into the two-hole, which was also expected.

What may not have been expected is what comes next, with third baseman Rafael Devers getting the chance to bat in between Betts and JD Martinez.

According to Cora, the third spot in Boston’s lineup will not be reserved for one specific hitter over the course of the season, with Devers, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce also in the mix depending on pitching matchups. But, with Pearce currently on the injured list back in Fort Myers, it will go to the young corner infielder for Opening Day.

“Steve is not here and (Devers) did a good job,” Cora said to reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “So go get ‘em, kid.”

Devers, 22, made his major league debut in Seattle back in July of 2017.

From there, as it reads above, we have Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland making up a pretty solid 4-5-6 portion of the lineup

And to round it off, it will go Eduardo Nunez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez, who of course will be catching Chris Sale in Game 1 of 162 on Thursday.

Per Baseball Reference, Sale owns a 3.40 ERA and .643 OPS against in 53 total innings pitched over 11 outings with Vazquez behind the plate.

He had been mostly working with Sandy Leon in his first three seasons with the Red Sox, but with Leon now off Boston’s 40-man roster, it will be interesting to see how the left-hander performs with Vazquez, or even Blake Swihart, serving as his catcher.

Whether or not Vazquez will be Sale’s personal catcher has yet to be revealed, but I doubt that.

Anyway, it looks like I’m going to run out of time to post a huge 2019 preview blog, but first pitch against the Mariners is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT Thursday on ESPN. Get excited.

 

Rick Porcello Avoids Major Scare as #RedSox Fall to Cubs in Mesa

After wrapping up the Grapefruit League portion of their spring on Saturday, the Red Sox made the trek out to Arizona to take on the Chicago Cubs in a pair of exhibition games before kicking off the regular season up in Seattle later this week.

Facing the Cubs for the first time since 2017, Rick Porcello got the start for Boston on Monday.

Working the first four innings, the right-hander surrendered two runs on four hits, zero walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

More importantly, Porcello avoided a serious scare in the second, when Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras ripped a comebacker that wound up glancing off the hurler’s head and landing all the way in shallow right field.

Fortunately and maybe even surprisingly, Porcello was all smiles afterwards and remained in the game to finish his outing. According to the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, “all concussion tests were negative.”

Back to the game, one of the two runs given up by Porcello came on a third inning leadoff home run off the bat of Cubs starter Cole Hamels.

The other came later in the third on an Anthony Rizzo RBI double.

After fanning the final two hitters he faced in the fourth with a pitch count of 53, the New Jersey native headed out to the Red Sox bullpen to get some additional work in and officially cap off his spring.

If I were to guess, I would say we see Porcello make his 2019 regular season debut in Seattle this Saturday.

From the top of the fifth inning on, Eduardo Rodrigez, Hector Velazquez, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to allow one run on two hits, three walks, one HBP, and six strikeouts over the final four in this one.

Rodriguez impressed in a rare relief appearance Monday, punching out the dangerous Cubs trio of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber while feauturing a nasty changeup in two scoreless frames.

Barnes and Brasier, meanwhile, together tossed a perfect eighth inning, with each recording one strikeout.

On the other side of things, as I had previously mentioned, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels to start things out.

Kicking off the scoring for Boston was Andrew Benintendi, who carried over the success he had in Florida spring training with a one out solo shot off Hamels in the top half of the third.

That would put the Red Sox on the board and give them an early lead, but they were not able to do much offensively for the rest of night.

One golden scoring opportunity came in the seventh, after Xander Bogaerts had already plated a run on an Eduardo Nunez RBI single to tie things up at two runs a piece.

With the bases full following a one out Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single, Blake Swihart, fresh off making Boston’s Opening Day roster, came to the plate with the chance to put his team ahead with some clutch hitting.

A las, the 26-year-old backstop got on top of one from Cubs reliever Randy Rosario and grounded into an inning-ending 5-3 double play, thus killing the rally.

After the Cubs re-took the lead with a run of their own in the seventh, the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 3-2 in Arizona.

One note from this loss:

Unrelated to the game, but it was just announced that first baseman Steve Pearce will be opening up the 2019 season on the injured list, presumably due to issues with his left calf. More on that Tuesday.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll face the Cubs once again in the last game before they all start to matter on March 28th.

Left-hander David Price will be getting the ball for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Hendricks will be doing the same for Chicago.

First pitch at Sloan Park is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT Tuesday.