Michael Chavis, Jarren Duran, and Josh Ockimey All Homer as Red Sox Top Pirates 6-3 in Rain-Shortened Contest

After blowing out the Orioles at Fort Myers on Tuesday, the Red Sox traveled to Bradenton for the first time this spring and improved to 3-2-1 in Grapefruit League action with a rain-shortened 6-3 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.

Making his first start in a Red Sox uniform for Boston was Martin Perez, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal back in December to fill out the back half of the club’s rotation.

Working the first two innings Wednesday, the left-hander surrendered one unearned run on one hit and one walk to go along with three walks on the afternoon.

That one Pittsburgh tally came in the bottom half of the second, when after tossing a 1-2-3 first, Perez allowed three of the first four hitters he faced in the frame to reach base on a walk, single, and fielder’s choice combined with a throwing error committed by Marco Hernandez.

With the bases full of Pirates, J.T. Riddle came through with a sacrifice fly hit plenty deep enough to right field to drive in Josh Bell from third and make it a 2-1 contest.

Fortunately, Perez was able to avoid any further damage by fanning Andrew Susac to retire the side and end his outing on a more positive note.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich struck out three, walked another, and allowed one run on a Jose Osuna RBI double in the third while also recording the first two outs of the fourth.

Pitching prospect Durbin Feltman wrapped up the frame by getting Riddle to ground out to first, which would turn out to be the only action the 22-year-old would see.

Colten Brewer followed suit with two innings of one-run ball to eventually become the pitcher of record, while another prospect in Yoan Aybar wound up with his first save of the spring by punching out the side in the seventh, which turned out to be the final full inning due to rain.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that did not feature many regulars outside of Jose Peraza, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki was matched up against Pirates top prospect Mitch Keller to begin things on Wednesday.

After going down quietly in the first, the Boston bats picked it back up in the top half of the second, when a one-out double off the bat of Nick Longhi brought a red-hot Jarren Duran to the plate for the first time.

Duran, the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, did not waste any time in staying hot, as he took the the third pitch he saw from Keller and deposited a mammoth two-run shot over everything in left field for his first home run of the spring. 2-0.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, after the Pirates had responded with two runs of their own, and it was another monster home run that gave the Red Sox the lead.

This time, it came with two outs and off the bat of Michael Chavis, who greeted Pirates reliever Robbie Erlin with his first big fly of the spring to make it a 3-2 contest.

In the sixth, Pittsburgh answered yet again to pull themselves back even at three runs a piece, but that did not stop the Sox from putting this one away an inning later.

Yes, thanks to back-to-back walks drawn by Jeter Downs and John Andreoli off of Sam Howard to lead off the frame, Jett Bandy was able to drive in the go-ahead run, Downs, from third on a sacrifice fly to deep center.

Just a few moments later, the slugging Josh Ockimey put the finishing touches on his side’s win by clobbering his second homer of the spring, a line-drive two-run shot pulled down the right field line.

That homer gave the Red Sox a 6-3 advantage, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score after 7 1/2 completed innings due to inclement weather in Bradenton.

Some observations from this win:

After beginning spring training 0-for-his-first-5 with four strikeouts, Michael Chavis went 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk on Wednesday while playing second base.

Kevin Plawecki went 1-for-2 with a walk. Since Jonathan Lucroy has yet to appear in a game, I would say Plawecki has the upper hand in the competition for the backup catcher spot for the time being.

Through three games and eight plate appearances this spring, Jarren Duran owns an OPS of 1.880. Like I have been saying, the most exciting prospect to watch on this team right now.

Speaking of prospects, it was interesting to see Durbin Feltman get a little work on Wednesday. Too bad he didn’t come back out for the fifth.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Philadelphia Philles at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Bryan Mata will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Nick Pivetta will do the same for Philadelphia.

Ranked as the Sox’ No.4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Mata, 20, worked a scoreless second inning against the Rays this past Saturday.

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

Red Sox’ Top Pitching Prospect Bryan Mata Hurls Seven Scoreless Innings, Strikes out Nine in Final Start of Season for Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata ended his season with Double-A Portland with a bang on Saturday, tossing seven scoreless, one-hit innings while walking five and punching out nine against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats en route to picking up his fourth Eatern League win of the year.

Per the Sea Dogs’ official Twitter account, seven innings pitched and nine strikeouts mark new career-highs for the right-hander, while his final pitch count of 103 (56 strikes) is also a new career high.

Ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 1 pitching prospect in Boston’s system, Mata earned a promotion to Double-A back in early July after posting a 1.75 ERA and .201 batting average against in his first 10 starts of the year with High-A Salem.

The numbers have not exactly been there for the 20-year-old hurler since then, but Saturday’s outing was certainly a reminder of the potential Mata has.

Including Saturday, Mata finishes his 2019 campaign with Portland with a 5.03 ERA and .271 batting average against over 11 outings and 53 2/3 total innings of work.

The Venezuela native will spend part of his offseason in the Arizona Fall League, joining five other Sox prospects as a member of the Peoria Javelinas, who begin play on September 18th.

Right-handed reliever Durbin Feltman, Boston’s 16th-ranked prospect, closed things out for Mata on Saturday by scattering two hits and fanning four over two scoreless frames of relief to earn his fifth save of 2019.

#RedSox Pitching Prospect Durbin Feltman Records Third Consecutive Scoreless Outing for Double-A Portland

While the big league club was in the middle of getting stomped by the New York Yankees in an 8-0 rout Tuesday night, Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman put together another impressive performance for the Double-A level Portland Sea Dogs.

Facing off against the Reading Fightin Phils, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, the 2018 third round pick struck out a pair in a scoreless eighth inning in a 5-2 loss for the Sea Dogs.

Since allowing one run on one hit and two walks in his Double-A debut on April 5th, Feltman has actually retired the last nine hitters he faced dating back to April 7th, lowering his ERA to 2.25 and batting average against to .083 on the Eastern League season.

Ranked as Boston’s 12th best prospect as per MLB.com, the Texas Christian product could very well get a shot in the majors depending on how the rest of the year pans out for the Red Sox.

Feltman even caught the attention of manager Alex Cora earlier this spring.

“He’s a work in progress,” the Red Sox skipper said following a perfect ninth inning from the 21-year-old hurler back on March 21st. “But he’ll be a good one.”

Set to turn 22 on Thursday, Feltman is definitely a prospect you should keep your eye on.

Blake Swihart Homers and Sam Travis Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Fall to Cubs in Spring Finale

The Red Sox wrapped up their spring on Tuesday afternoon with a 14-7 loss at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, meaning they failed to pick up a win in their brief two-game exhibition series in Mesa, Az. before heading north to Seattle for the real thing.

David Price, who we have not seen much of in the past few weeks, made just his second start of the spring in this one.

Pitching into the fourth inning, the left-hander surrendered five runs on six hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the day.

Retiring seven of the first eight hitters he faced, it looked as though things were going swimmingly for Price up until the bottom half of the third, when four straight Cubs hitters reached base, which in turn resulted in their first two runs crossing the plate.

An inning later, a two out solo home run off the bat of Kyle Schwarber would ultimately spell the end to Price’s day, as he would depart from this one following another run of three straight Cubs hits, capped off by an Addison Russell RBI double.

Facing 18 batters in total, Price’s next and first start of the regular season will come against the Oakland Athletics on Monday, April 1st.

From the middle of the bottom half of the fourth on, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Adam Lau, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Ryan Weber, and Durbin Feltman combined to give up a whopping 11 runs (10 earned) on nine hits, four walks, two HBPs, and seven punch outs over the final 4.1 frames.

Not great numbers, obviously. Hembree, Workman, and Lau were responsible for eight of those runs in a monster fifth inning for Chicago.

On a more positive note, Weber tossed a scoreless seventh inning, so there’s that.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Cubs right-hander Carl Edwards Jr., who typically pitches in a relief role, to start things off on Tuesday.

After failing to put anything on the board in their first two trips to the plate, Blake Swihart kicked off the scoring for Boston with a one out solo home run in the third inning off Massachusetts native Tim Collins, his first of the spring.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Sam Travis got his impressive day at the plate started by belting a line drive RBI double to left that allowed Eduardo Nunez to score all the way from first.

And later on in the eighth, after the first four Red Sox hitters had reached base to lead the inning off, including a Tate Matheny RBI single, Travis capped off his spring in exciting fashion, mashing a bases-clearing grand slam off Cubs reliever Ian Clarkin.

Granted, it ended up not making that huge a difference in the final score, but what a way for the 25-year-old Travis to head into his first ever big league Opening Day. Hard not to be excited for him.

Anyway, the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-7 to put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a 12-17-1 spring.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s Opening Day as well as opening weekend in Seattle. Here are the starting pitchers Alex Cora is going with for the first series of the 2019 season.

Game 1: LHP Chris Sale vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 1.93 ERA)
Game 3: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. RHP Mike Leake
Game 4: RHP Rick Porcello vs. LHP Wade LeBlanc

First pitch Opening Day (March 28th) is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on ESPN.

It’s almost that time.

#RedSox Manager Alex Cora on Pitching Prospect Durbin Feltman: “He’s a Work in Progress, but He’ll Be a Good One”

Durbin Feltman retired the only three hitters he faced in order on Thursday night in a perfect ninth inning of work to secure a 8-0 Red Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In three relief appearances and 2.2 total innings of work this spring, the 21-year-old right-hander has yet to surrender a run on one hit and three walks to go along with five strikeouts.

Those numbers may look good on paper, but according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Feltman still has some things to work on.

He’s still learning,” Cora said Thursday night. “Delivery-wise there are a few things Dana (LeVangie) has noticed. He’s a work in progress, but he’ll be a good one.”

The Red Sox selected Feltman out of Texas Christian University with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.

In his first professional season, Feltman posted a miniscule 1.93 ERA over 22 relief appearances and 23.1 innings pitched between Single-A affiliates Lowell, Greenville, and Salem. He also recorded 36 strikeouts over that span while holding opponents to a .207 batting average against.

Compared to just the five walks he allowed in the minors last year, the free passes have been somewhat of an issue this spring, as the Texas native is averaging more than 12 walks per nine innings in 2019, albeit a small sample size.

Still, Feltman, who is ranked as Boston’s fifth-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has received a fair share of attention at Fenway South.

Given the likelihood he starts his first full professional season in Double-A Portland, it would not be all that surprising if we see the hard-throwing righty up with the big league club at some point later in the year if he continues to impress out of the bullpen in the minors.

The potential is certainly there, but one thing the Red Sox don’t want to do is rush Feltman’s development. The same could also be said for the club’s top pitching prospect in Darwinzon Hernandez.

Both Feltman and Hernandez have opened eyes this spring, but that does not necessarily mean they are ready to contribute on the biggest stage right now.

Granted, with the way the Red Sox bullpen is shaping out, the two could be needed sooner rather than later, but I rather see how they fare without being rushed up to Boston.

Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits, One RBI as #RedSox Cruise past Rays in Shutout Fashion

The Red Sox improved to 10-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday evening following an 8-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in their first and only contest under the lights at JetBlue Park this spring.

Making his fifth appearance (fourth start) of the spring in this one was Hector Velazquez.

Working the first two innings, the hybrid right-hander held Tampa Bay scoreless while scattering just two hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts.

In total, Velazquez faced eight Rays hitters and retired six of them to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 7.84.

From the top of the third inning on, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, and Durbin Feltman combined to toss seven frames of shutout ball on a pair of hits, six walks, and 12 punch outs on the night.

Hernandez, responsible for the third, tip-toed his way around three free passes and avoided any damage by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out to Dustin Pedroia to retire the side.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, picked up where he left off against the Twins on Monday by fanning three straight Rays in order in a sharp fourth inning of work.

And to wrap this win up, Feltman struck out one in a fairly simple 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Hunter Wood to start things off.

Rafael Devers, batting third, was the offensive catalyst in this one, as his GIDP with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts on the corners in the first plated Boston’s first run of the night.

Fast forward to the third, and Devers was at it again, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart on a hard-hit two-run triple to right field off Rays reliever Adam Kolarek.

One pitching change that saw ex-Athletics hurler Emilio Pagan take over later, JD Martinez made it a 4-0 game with a scorcher of an RBI double off the Fenway South Green Monster.

The two-time 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner would come around to score on a Joey Wendle fielding error off a ground ball from Brock Holt, who would score himself on a Dustin Pedroia RBI base knock. And just like that, it was 6-0 Boston.

Three innings later, back-to-back singles from Pedroia and Bradley Jr. in the sixth would result in Boston’s final two runs of the evening crossing the plate on a two-run double off the bat of prospect Ryan Fitzgerald to make it an 8-0 game, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In his first game since it was revealed that he would not be ready for Opening Day, Pedroia went 2/3 with his first RBI of the spring on Thursday.

Through 43 plate appearances this spring, Devers is slashing .395/.409/.605 with one home run, two doubles, and six RBI.

Brewer, who was responsible for the sixth, also struck out the side in order in his lone frame of relief.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in the final installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

2019 Opening Day starter Chris Sale is set to toe the rubber for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Gibson will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Last Friday without meaningful baseball for the next seven months. That’s what I like to see.

 

 

#RedSox Split St. Patrick’s Day Split-Squad Doubleheader Against Pirates and Rays

The Red Sox both improved and fell to 8-14-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a St. Patrick’s Day split-squad split, with the 3-2 win coming at JetBlue Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 8-1 defeat coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

Beginning with the contest against the Rays, David Price was originally scheduled to make his second start of the spring against his old club, but the left-hander was scratched Sunday morning due to illness.

In his place, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson, who was going to pitch anyway, surrendered two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and walks to go along with three strikeouts in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Johnson faced 13 Rays hitters on the afternoon, retiring eight of them while allowing five to reach base before getting the hook with one out to get in the top half of the third.

From there, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Adam Lau, Colten Brewer, Jenrry Mejia, Durbin Feltman, Hunter Smith, and Eduard Bazardo combined to hold Tampa Bay scoreless over the final 6.1 frames on Sunday, as they scattered just two hits, six walks, and six strikeouts en route to the win.

Hembree, who worked the start of the fourth inning, struggled with control a bit, which was evident by him walking the bases loaded while failing to retire the side.

Feltman, meanwhile, fanned the first two hitters he faced in relatively easy fashion, but could not finish things off after giving up a two out double and surrendering two straight walks.

Bazardo, who was signed as an international free agent by Boston back in 2014, picked up the save in his Grapefruit League debut thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox split-squad lineup was matched up against Rays minor leaguer Ryan Merrit to kick things off.

Starting the scoring in this one was Brock Holt, whose leadoff double in the first would translate to Boston’s first run of the afternoon coming around to score on a two out RBI double off the bat of JD Martinez.

Fast forward all the way to the bottom half of the eighth, trailing by a run, and back-to-back two out RBI knocks from Danny Mars and Ryan Fitzgerald pulled the Red Sox up a run themselves, as 3-2 would go on to be the final score in this one.

Meanwhile, over in Bradenton, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the lone highlight for Boston in this one with, in his one words, “probably the most amazing play I’ve ever made.”

Steve Pearce left in the first inning after feeling discomfort in his left calf while running out a grounder in his first and only at bat of the afternoon.

When asked about it, the 2018 World Series MVP said, “I didn’t feel a pop. There wasn’t anything that was too alarming. I just don’t like how it is right now.”

His departure on Sunday seems more precautionary than anything, but it would not be too surprising if the 35-year-old Pearce is held out of action for the next few days to ensure all is well with that left calf.

Some additional notes from Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader:

Colten Brewer faced the minimum six hitters in two shutout frames against the Rays, while Jenrry Mejia also held Tampa Bay scoreless to go along with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

Triston Casas, who was Boston’s first round selection in the 2018 draft, made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut at JetBlue Park as a defensive replacement for Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

The 19-year-old prospect went 0/1 with a walk and a strikeout while also seeing a fair amount of action over at first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the short trek to Hammond Stadium on Monday to face the Minnesota Twins in the sixth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while ace right-hander Jose Berrios will be doing the same for Minnesota.

The last time these two clubs linked up, Eovaldi allowed one run over three innings in his first start of the spring, while Berrios allowed a pair of runs over 3.1 innings.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN does not have it covered.