Eduardo Rodriguez Continues to Impress With 10 Strikeouts Over Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Top Rays to Win Fourth Straight

After pitching came through in a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to four and improved to 9-10-2 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez, who appears to be in line to get the Opening Day nod from interim manager Ron Roenicke despite no official announcement being made yet.

Tossing four full innings for the second time in a row, the left-hander impressed by keeping the Rays off the scoreboard despite scattering six hits and one walk. 10 of the 12 outs he recorded came by way of the strikeout.

As those numbers suggest, Rodriguez did deal with his fair share of traffic on the base paths on Wednesday, but the majority of the trouble he faced came with two outs in an inning, so he was able to work his way around it.

The 26-year-old capped off his night by fanning the last two Rays he faced in the fourth to finish with a final pitch count of exactly 80. His next outing should come on Monday against the Pirates.

In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth, and he tossed a perfect frame in his fourth appearance of the spring.

From there, Heath Hembree put together his first scoreless appearance of the spring in the sixth, Austin Brice worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean seventh, Domingo Tapia served up a solo home run to Brian O’Grady in the eighth, and Kevin Lenik allowed the go-ahead run to come to the plate on a two-out walk and single before escaping the jam to secure the 3-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Peraza, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Rusney Castillo was matched up against Rays left-handed pitching prospect Shane McClanahan to begin things on Wednesday.

Nothing came against McClanahan in his 1 1/3 innings of work, and it was not until the top half of the third when the Boston bats livened up.

There, three straight two-out hits from the 3-4-5 hitters off of Dylan Covey resulted in the Sox driving in their first run of the night, with Bradley Jr. plating Bogaerts from second on an RBI single up the middle.

Lucroy followed suit a few moments later with an RBI base hit of his own, with this one scoring Chavis from second to make it a 2-0 contest early.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it was Bradley Jr. getting the job done with two outs once more, as he drove in Chavis from second on an RBI double to left off new Rays reliever Anthony Banda.

That two-base hit put the Red Sox up 3-0, and after Tampa Bay pushed across a run of their own in the eighth, 3-1 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score at Charlotte Sports Park.

Some observations from this win:

The Red Sox have won four straight Grapefruit League contests. They have a run differential of +5 over that span.

Austin Brice has yet to give up a run this spring and appears to be a lock to make the Opening Day roster as a bullpen option.

Jose Peraza played left field.

Jonathan Lucroy on Wednesday: 2-for-2 with one walk and one RBI.

Kevin Plawecki, off the bench, on Wednesday: 1-for-2 with a double.

Xander Bogaerts recorded his first hit of the spring on a third-inning single.

Jackie Bradley Jr. owns an OPS of 1.141 through 31 plate appearances this spring.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s their first off day of the spring on Thursday before taking on this same Rays club back at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to start for Boston, while Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter.

Perez put together his best outing of the spring in his last time out against the Twins this past Sunday as he punched out seven over four scoreless frames of work.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. This game will not be televised.

Nathan Eovaldi’s Strong Spring Continues as Red Sox Win One, Lose One in Saturday’s Split-Squad Action

In their second split-squad action of the spring on Saturday, the Red Sox experienced both victory and defeat, as they topped the Blue Jays by a final score of 5-2 at JetBlue Park, but also fell to the Phillies by a final score of 10-2 in Clearwater. They are now 5-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Starting with the game in Fort Myers, it was Nathan Eovaldi making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one.

Having yet to give up a run through his first two Grapefruit League outings headed into the weekend, Eovaldi’s impressive run continued against Toronto, as he held the Jays scoreless over three sharp innings of work while scattering one hit and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both that hit and walk Eovaldi yielded came right away in the top half of the first, but he was able to maneuver his way around any trouble by punching out Brandon Drury before proceeding to retire the final six Blue Jays he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 59, the 30-year-old had his four-seam fastball consistently hovering around 97-99 MPH on Saturday. His fourth start should come against the Rays on Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo came on to begin the fourth inning, and he served up a solo home run to old friend Travis Shaw in an otherwise clean frame of work.

From there, Josh Taylor struck out the side and stranded two runners in his third appearance of the spring in the fifth, Phillips Valdez fanned three over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, Trevor Hildenberger surrendered one run on one hit, one hit batsman, and one RBI groundout in the eighth, and Robinson Leyer closed things out with a shutout ninth to preserve the win.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up two earned runs on two hits, one walk, two HBPs, and 13 strikeouts over nine total innings of work against the Blue Jays. Things did not go as swimmingly against the Phillies, which we’ll get to later.

For now, let’s talk about how a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Bobby Dalbec, Jonathan Arauz, and Rusney Castillo fared against Toronto starter Trent Thornton on Saturday.

Devers got things started right away in the first, as he reached base on a scorcher of a one-out single and came in to score all the way from first on a two-out RBI double off the bat of Martinez that could have been caught in left field had it not been for some nasty wind.

That early one-run lead doubled in the third, with Moreland doubling off Thornton and Dalbec driving him in on a run-scoring two-base hit of his own down the left field line. 2-0.

In the fourth, Devers came through again, this time plating Castillo from second and advancing Benintendi to third on another hard-hit, RBI single off new Blue Jays reliever Brian Moran.

Xander Bogaerts followed that up by grounding into a run-scoring 4-6-3 double play, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 4-1 advantage.

Jantzen Witte and Ryder Jones provided some insurance later on in the seventh, with the former lacing a two-out double off of Julian Merryweather and the latter following with a double of his own to score Witte and make it a 5-1 contest.

Toronto would get one of those runs back in their half of the eighth, but that would be all, as 5-2 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Making the trek over to Clearwater now, it was top pitching prospect Tanner Houck making his second start and third overall appearance of the spring for Boston against the Phillies.

Coming off three scoreless innings of relief against the Braves last weekend, the right-hander had a much tougher time of things on Saturday, as he yielded six runs, five of which were earned, on four hits, three walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts in just 1 1/3 innings of work.

The first of those six Philles runs came in the first on a hit batsman, a double, and a wild pitch. The other five all came in the second, although Houck was only on the mound for four of them.

He was charged with all six, but after coming out in a 4-0 game with one out and the bases full, Mike Kickham allowed two of those inherited runners to score on another HBP and wild pitch before eventually retiring the side.

Kickham also worked a scoreless third inning before making way for Domingo Tapia, who surrendered two runs (one earned) on two hits, a walk, and a passed ball on the part of catcher Roldani Baldwin in the bottom half of the fourth.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich worked his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean fifth, Adam Lau gave up two more runs on three hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Austin Brice impressed by fanning four over two perfect frames of relief in the seventh and eighth.

Compared to the other game against Toronto where things went pretty smoothly pitching-wise, Red Sox hurlers combined to allow 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits, six walks, and 14 strikeouts over eight total innings pitched against Philadelphia.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Plawecki, Josh Ockimey, C.J. Chatham, Marco Hernandez, Jeter Downs, Marcus Wilson, and Baldwin was matched up against Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez to begin things on Saturday.

Pillar got the scoring started for Boston in their half of the third, and he wrapped up a two-hit afternoon by clearing the bases on a two-run double to left off Suarez.

At the time, that two-base hit trimmed the Phillies’ advantage from six runs down to four, but it turned out to be the only offense the Sox could muster with 10-2 going on to be Saturday’s final score in Clearwater.

Some observations from this win and loss:

Kevin Plawecki against the Phillies: 1-for-3 with one strikeout.

Jonathan Lucroy, off the bench, against the Blue Jays: 0-for-1 with a walk and strikeout.

Mitch Moreland, in his first in-game action since last Sunday: 1-for-2 with one strikeout and run scored.

Nate Pearson, the top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, is going to be very good.

Speaking of prospects, it was interesting to see Gilberto Jimenez, the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, make a brief appearance as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of the game against the Blue Jays.

With 10 strikeouts through his first 5 2/3 innings of work this spring, I thoroughly believe Austin Brice should make the Opening Day roster.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Kenta Maeda will do the same for Minnesota.

Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, and Chris Mazza are among those who are expected to follow Perez.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. Remember to turn your clocks ahead.

 

Rafael Devers Homers but Red Sox Pitching Falters in 9-1 Loss to Yankees

After enduring their second tie of the spring to kick off the first week of March on Monday, the Red Sox fell to 4-6-2 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following a 9-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees in Tampa Bay.

Making his second start of the season for Boston was Martin Perez, coming off two one-run innings in his last time out against the Pirates last Wednesday.

Working just 2/3 of an inning this time around, the left-hander was eventually charged with six runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits and one walk to go along with no strikeouts on the afternoon.

Those numbers certainly don’t look encouraging, but it’s difficult to place all the blame on Perez when the reality of the situation is that he gave up a fair amount of soft contact and endured some bad luck thanks to the defense behind him.

The 28-year-old wound up facing the first eight hitters in the Yankees lineup and finished with a final pitch count of 34 before being pulled by interim manager Ron Roenicke. His third start of the spring should come against the Twins on Sunday.

Turning to the bullpen earlier than they would have liked to, minor-league right-hander Hunter Haworth inherited a messy situation with one out still to get and the bases full.

A wild pitch to begin his outing allowed that runner on third, Luke Voit, to easily score, and the bases were re-filled once more following a walk of Clint Frazier.

A hard-hit single off the bat of D.J. LeMahieu plated another two runs, and just like that, the Yankees had themselves a 6-0 lead before Haworth was able to retire the side in what turned out to be a 39-minute first inning.

From there, Haworth sat down the side in order in the bottom half of the second, left-hander Josh Taylor served up a solo homer to Gio Urshela in the third and worked a scoreless fourth, Austin Brice fanned two in a clean fifth, Josh Osich stranded the bases loaded in the sixth, Domingo Tapia allowed one run on two hits, one walk, and an RBI forceout in the seventh, and R.J. Alvarez surrendered another run on three hits and a walk in the eighth.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up nine runs (four earned) on 13 hits and seven walks to go along with eight total strikeouts over eight innings of work.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Peraza, Tzu-Wei Lin, C.J. Chatham, Jarren Duran, and John Andreoli was matched up against a familiar opponent in Yankees veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to begin things on Tuesday.

Going down by six runs before even taking their second at-bats of the day had to be a kick in the gut, and the only offense generated by Boston came courtesy of Rafael Devers in the top half of the fourth inning.

There, facing off against new Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt, the 23-year-old led the frame off by crushing a fastball to deep center for his second home run of the spring.

That solo blast cut the Yankees’ advantage down to six runs at 7-1, but that was all the Sox could muster in an eventual 9-1 loss.

Some observations from this defeat:

Andrew Benintendi, in his return to the lineup on Tuesday: 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Jonathan Lucroy on Tuesday: 0-for-2 with a few mishaps behind the plate. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Tzu-Wei Lin was pulled early due to tightness in his left hamstring. Cole Sturgeon took over for him.

I won’t post the numbers, but Austin Brice has looked pretty decent through three spring appearances out of the bullpen.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Ivan Nova will do the same for Detroit.

Springs, 27, could be a viable option to serve as an opener given the current state of the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Speaking of which, an update regarding the status of Chris Sale should be available Wednesday morning, so stay tuned for that.

In regards to Tuesday’s game, first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. It will not be televised.

Red Sox Top Northeastern 3-0 in Spring Training Opener

For the first time since September 29th, 2019, the Boston Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they opened up exhibition play on Friday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over the Northeastern Huskies in a seven-inning contest.

The plan for the Sox was to use one pitcher per inning on Friday, and that’s exactly what they stuck to.

25-year-old Australian left-hander Daniel McGrath got things started by walking the first two hitters he faced, but settled down with the help of his catcher Connor Wong in addition to striking out a pair to keep things scoreless.

From there, recently-acquired right-handed reliever Austin Brice fanned two more hitters and got more help from Wong in a scoreless second, righty Robinson Leyer struck out two and stranded two runners in a scoreless third, Trevor Hildenberger scattered one hit in an otherwise clean fourth frame, Denyi Reyes retired three of the four he faced in a shutout fifth, and Adam Lau maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk thanks to Roldani Baldwin in a scoreless top half of the sixth.

After his side finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth, 24-year-old righty Eduardo Bazardo closed things out for Boston by sitting down the only three hitters he faced in order in the seventh to secure the 3-0 victory over the Huskies.

In total, Sox pitching combined for seven scoreless innings while yielding just four hits and three walks to go along with 11 total strikeouts on the afternoon.

On the other side of things, the Northeastern pitching staff held their own for a while against the Boston bats, albeit without any regulars in the lineup.

It wasn’t until the bottom half of the sixth inning when the Red Sox offense finally woke up.

There, with right-hander Rick Burroni on the mound for Northeastern, Sox prospect Marcus Wilson led things off by drawing a walk in his first and only plate appearance.

The 23-year-old then proceeded to steal second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with no outs for Josh Ockimey, who fanned for the first out of the frame.

A Jagger Rusconi groundout back to the pitcher meant that the Red Sox were just an out away from coming away with nothing, but Ryan Fitzgerald made sure that did not happen.

Yes, the 2019 Carolina League All-Star lined an RBI single to right-center field deep enough to plate Wilson from second and put his side on the board first.

Two more walks drawn by Baldwin and Tyler Esplin ended the day for Burroni and filled the bases for longtime PawSox mainstay Jantzen Witte.

Facing off against Huskies right-hander Henry Ennen, the 30-year-old veteran laced a two-run single through the middle of the infield to score both Fitzgerald and Baldwin from second and third.

That clutch two-RBI knock gave the Red Sox a 3-0 advantage, which would go on to be Friday’s final score in the spring training opener.

Some notes from this win:

Top prospect Jeter Downs reached base on an infield single in his first at-bat in a Red Sox uniform. He also committed a fielding error in the top half of the third and grounded into an inning-ending double play in the bottom half.

Downs was not originally slated to start for Boston on Friday, but because infielder C.J. Chatham was scratched from the lineup due to right shoulder soreness, the 21-year-old got the call instead.

Marcus Wilson will presumably begin the 2020 campaign in Double-A Portland alongside fellow outfield prospect Jarren Duran, who went 1-for-2 with a third-inning single on Friday.

The only players with big-league experience who played in this contest were Marco Hernandez, Rusney Castillo, John Andreoli, Juan Centeno, Austin Brice, and Trevor Hildenberger.

Next up for the Red Sox, Grapefruit League play begins on Saturday with an afternoon contest against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park.

Left-hander Brian Johnson is scheduled to get the start for Boston, while Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter.

It had to have been a tough offseason for Johnson, as the 29-year-old was essentially demoted off the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November.

Still, Johnson snuck through waivers and remains with Boston in a lesser capacity than he had been the previous three or so seasons. He’ll have a chance to prove himself and perhaps open some eyes on Saturday afternoon.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Looking at Red Sox Players Who Are out of Minor-League Options

With Red Sox spring training underway and full-squad workouts scheduled to begin next week, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the players who need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Granted, these following players on the Sox’ 40-man roster don’t HAVE to make the Opening Day roster, but if they do not, they will be exposed to waivers since they are out of minor-league options.

The following players have been excluded from this list despite also not having any minor-league options remaining on their current contracts.

Juan Centeno
Jett Bandy
Cesar Puello
Brian Johnson
Mike Kickham

That is the case because they are not on the 40-man roster. On to the main event…

Kevin Plawecki

Signed to a one-year, $900,000 major-league deal last month, the soon-to-be-29-year-old backstop will primarily serve as Christian Vazquez’s backup this season.

Thanks to a lack of significant catching depth, Plawecki should be a lock to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster regardless of how he performs this spring.

The ex-Met and Indian slashed .222/.287/.342 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 59 games for Cleveland last season.

Heath Hembree

The 31-year-old right-hander has been a consistent mainstay in the Sox’ bullpen for the past three seasons, yet injury concerns last year seemed to peg Hembree as a potential non-tender candidate back in December.

The Red Sox decided not to go that route though, and instead paid him $1.61 million in his penultimate season of arbitration eligibility.

With plenty of other names vying for a spot in Boston’s bullpen out of spring training, Hembree could see himself competing for a spot depending on how he fares in the coming weeks.

Austin Brice

Acquired from the Marlins for infield prospect Angeudis Santos last month, Brice is not yet arbitration eligible.

The 27-year-old right-hander posted an ERA of 3.43 and FIP of 4.87 over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings pitched last season before being designated for assignment by Miami in January.

With a pitch mix that heavily relies on a curveball and four-seam fastball, Brice could offer the Sox with a unique look out of the bullpen at a relative bargain.

Tzu-Wei Lin

Perhaps the most fascinating name on this list, Lin went from a surprise call-up during the middle stages of the 2017 season to someone who is now on the outskirts of the Sox’ 40-man roster.

Lin, who turns 26 on Saturday, dealt with a left knee sprain and a concussion last season, leading to the Taiwan product playing in just 13 games at the big-league level in 2019.

The former international signee offers versatility as both an infielder and outfielder, but with plenty of depth in both areas abound, Lin may struggle to find a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Bonus: Jonathan Arauz

Arauz may not be out of minor-league options like the names listed above, but as a Rule 5 Draft pick out of the Astros organization back in December, the 21-year-old has to stick on the Sox’ 26-man roster throughout the entirety of the 2020 season.

If he does not, he will be offered back to the Astros. So, not exactly the same circumstances as the others, but still someone who would probably like to break camp on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster.

Thanks to RosterResource for providing the information used in this piece.

Red Sox Outright Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket After He Clears Waivers

Less than a week after designating him for assignment in order to make room for reliever Austin Brice on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox outrighted utility infielder Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.

This roster move comes one day after the club dealt another utility piece in Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs.

Like Hernandez, Travis was designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A earlier in the month, so it does not seem out of the realm of possibilities that the 27-year-old could also be traded in the coming weeks if there is any interest.

Returning from a two-year absence in 2019 due to multiple shoulder surgeries, Hernandez slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 61 games for Boston last season.

Since Chaim Bloom took over as the Sox’ chief baseball officer last October, the Dominican Republic native has been non-tendered, brought back as a free agent, designated for assignment, and outrighted to the minors in the span of just over a month. Quite the eventful offseason.

Entering his sixth season with the Red Sox organization, Hernandez will look to compete for a spot back on Boston’s 40-man roster once spring training begins, if he is not already traded by then.

Red Sox Acquire Reliever Austin Brice From Marlins, Designate Marco Hernandez for Assignment

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Austin Brice for the Miami Marlins in exchange for shortstop prospect Angeudis Santos. In a corresponding move, utility infielder Marco Hernandez was designated for assignment to make room for Brice on Boston’s 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Friday.

Brice, 27, was designated for assignment by the Marlins this past Tuesday after posting a 3.43 ERA and 4.79 xFIP over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings of work in 2019 in his second stint with Miami.

The former 2010 ninth-round pick was originally drafted by the Marlins and was part of the trade that sent Luis Castillo the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Dan Straily back in January 2017.

From that point, Brice spent a short amount of time with the Angels and Orioles before being claimed off waivers by Miami prior to the start of the 2019 campaign.

Per Statcast, Brice, who was the first player born in Hong Kong to appear in the majors, relies on a four-pitch arsenal that includes a curveball, four-seam fastball, sinker, and changeup. He averaged 93.1 MPH with his heater last year.

Since he is out of minor-league options, Brice will have to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster if he does not want to be exposed to waivers.

Brice now joins left-hander Josh Osich and right-hander Chris Mazza as bullpen additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made either through trades or the waiver wire this offseason.

As for the minor-league shortstop the Red Sox parted ways with, Angeudis Santos is an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic who Boston signed for $110,000 in September 2018. He slashed just .184/.384/.218 with four extra-base hits and 13 RBI over 56 games with one of the Sox’ Dominican Summer League teams last year.

Turning to Hernandez now, it has probably been a frustrating offseason for the 27-year-old. Back on December 2nd, he was non-tendered by Boston, Two days later, the club brought him back on a split contract to save approximately $50,000.

Now that Hernandez has been designated for assignment, I am sure the Red Sox would like to bring him back as depth if he sneaks through waivers. We’ll have to wait and see on that though since he could be traded or claimed by another team in the next seven days.