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.

Ryan Weber Hurls Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Sneak Past Braves

In their first game under the lights this spring, the Red Sox won their second consecutive one-run contest, as they topped the Atlanta Braves by a final score of 2-1 on Monday to improve to 7-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, coming off three one-run (unearned) innings in his last time out against the Tigers last Monday.

Working the first four innings this time around, the right-hander stayed sharp as he kept the Braves off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.

That one hit was a two-out single off the bat of Freddie Freeman in the bottom half of the first. Outside of that, Weber retired the other 12 hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of  60, the 29-year-old’s next outing should come sometime early next week depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Weber, Brandon Workman, in his third appearance of the spring, loaded the bases on the first three Braves he faced in the fifth, but he got out of it unscathed thanks to an unassisted double play from Jose Peraza and a strikeout of Shea Langeliers.

From there, Marcus Walden allowed Atlanta to score their first run of the night on one hit, one hit batsman, and one sacrifice fly in the sixth before tossing a clean seventh, and left-hander Jeffrey Springs fanned three while tossing scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the 2-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin, Kevin Plawecki, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Lucroy (DH), Peraza, Marco Hernandez, Rusney Castillo, and Jarren Duran was matched up against a familar foe in ex-Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez for Atlanta.

Kicking off the scoring in the fourth, a leadoff walk drawn by Lucroy followed by a single from Peraza put runners at the corners with no outs for Marco Hernandez.

On the third pitch he saw from the Braves’ Hernandez, the Red Sox’ Hernandez laced a line-drive RBI single to the opposite field to drive in Lucroy from third and give Boston an early one-run edge.

Fast forward to the sixth, and it was the same part of the lineup getting things done once more, with Lucroy leading off with another walk against new Braves reliever Touki Toussaint, Jose Peraza advancing the pinch-running Kole Cottam to second on a single, and Hernandez taking a pitch off his left foot to fill the bases for Castillo.

Castillo nearly grounded into a double play, but because of a bad throw from short to second on the part of the Braves, he was credited with an RBI on a groundout that brought in Cottam from third.

That simple play made it a 2-0 game, and after Atlanta got one of their own in their half of the sixth, 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score at CoolToday Park.

Some observations from this win:

Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts out of the leadoff spot on Monday.

Tzu-Wei Lin returned to the Red Sox lineup on Monday and went 1-for-1 with a single and a sacrifice bunt.

Kevin Plawecki on Monday: 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jonathan Lucroy on Monday: 1-for-1 with two walks and a run scored.

Jose Peraza is looking pretty good at second base.

Through his first nine innings of work this spring, Ryan Weber has yet to surrender an earned run.

It was nice to see top prospect Triston Casas get some playing time at first base in this one, although he did strike out in his lone plate appearance.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals back at JetBlue Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Jack Flaherty will do the same for St. Louis.

Following Sunday’s roster cuts, Johnson remains one of the notable non-roster invites still in major-league camp. He is surely vying for a rotation or bullpen spot with Boston to begin the season.

Matt Barnes, Colten Brewer, and Josh Taylor are among the Red Sox relievers expected to follow Johnson.

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

 

Martín Pérez Punches out Seven Over Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Hold on to Defeat Twins

After splitting a split-squad doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox improved to 6-10-2 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday following a tight 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston was Martin Perez, coming off just 2/3 of an inning of work in his last time out against the Yankees this past Tuesday.

Tossing four full innings this time around, the left-hander experienced much better results as he kept his former team off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

Despite dealing with a fair share of traffic on the base paths, Perez was able to avoid any real damage with the help of ground ball and strikeout-inducing pitches.

The most impressive takeaways, for me at least, were how Perez worked his way around a leadoff walk in the second by inducing a 4-6-3 double play before striking out the side in order in the third. He retired three of the final five hitters he faced in the fourth.

Finishing with a rather high final pitch count of 84, Perez’s next start should come sometime next weekend depending on if he gets four or five days of rest in between outings.

In relief of Perez, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth for his third appearance of the spring, and he retired the only three Twins he faced in order.

From there, Heath Hembree surrendered the first run of the contest on two hits in the sixth, left-hander Matt Hall yielded another pair of runs on three hits and one walk in the seventh, Chris Mazza maneuvered his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean eighth before being charged with three runs on three hits while only being able to record the first two outs of the ninth, and pitching prospect Durbin Feltman allowed one of his inherited runners to score before closing things out to secure the 7-6 win for his side.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up six earned runs on 14 hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts over nine innings in a contest that turned out to be much closer than initially anticipated.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Peraza was matched up against a familiar foe in Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda to begin things on Sunday.

Nothing came against Maeda, who like Perez also tossed four scoreless innings, but Martinez did eventually get the Sox on the board in the bottom half of the sixth.

There, matched up against Twins reliever Matt Wisler, the slugger drove in Pillar from second on a two-out RBI single laced down the left field line that knotted things up at one run apiece.

In the seventh, after falling behind by two runs, Worcester native John Andreoli cut that deficit in half by driving in fellow Massachusetts native Nick Longhi in from third on a run-scoring single to left off of Cory Gearrin.

One groundout and walk later, Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, and he came through with arguably his biggest hit of the spring to this point, a two-run double blistered off the wall in left field to plate Jantzen Witte and John Andreoli.

Tyler Esplin followed with a run-scoring groundout that brought in Johan Mieses from third, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 advantage.

What would turn out to be much-needed insurance was added on to that two-run lead an inning later, with Witte and Andreoli both reaching on two-out singles off of Sam Clay and Chad De La Guerra driving in the pair on a two-run triple to the opposite field.

That three-base hit put the Red Sox up 7-3, and after the Twins stormed back with three runs of their own in their half of the ninth, 7-6 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Martin Perez has a solid cutter.

Xander Bogaerts is 0-for-his-first-9 this spring.

Jonathan Lucroy, off the bench, on Sunday: 1-for-2 with one double and two RBI. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Heath Hembree, Matt Hall, and Chris Mazza all had far from impressive showings on Sunday. Ryan Brasier, on the other hand, looked sharp.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll once again head to North Port for their first night game of the spring against the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Felix Hernandez will do the same for Atlanta.

Through his first two outings of the spring, Weber has surrendered one unearned run over his first five innings pitched. He appears to have a strong grip on a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation to begin the new season.

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

 

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.

Bryan Mata Hurls Two Scoreless Innings, Jonathan Arauz Homers as Red Sox Fall to Phillies

After powering themselves to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Red Sox fell to 3-3-1 on Grapefruit League action on Thursday following a 12-5 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring was Bryan Mata, who is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ system headed into the 2020 season.

Working the first two innings Thursday, the 20-year-old right-hander kept the Phillies off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those two punchouts came against the final two hitters he faced in the second.

In relief of Mata, Chris Mazza got hit hard for three runs on a two-run home run and RBI double in the third, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez allowed one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, newcomer Phillips Valdez fanned two in an impressive, scoreless fifth, Bobby Poyner yielded a two-run homer to Delvy Grullon in the sixth, Daniel McGrath surrendered one run on three singles and a walk in the seventh, R.J. Alvarez allowed six of the nine hitters he faced in the eighth to reach base, resulting in four more Phillies runs, Eduard Bazardo yielded another run while only being able to record the first out of the ninth, and Matthew Kent wrapped things up by retiring the only two hitters he faced.

All in all, Red Sox pitching on Thursday combined to give up 12 runs on 20(!) hits and six walks. It’s still only late February, but I would not call those numbers ideal.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Kevin Pillar, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta to begin things in this one.

Moreland got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the third, driving in Benintendi, who had walked, from second with two outs on an RBI single through the right side of the infield off new reliever Seth McGarry to make it a 3-1 contest.

An inning later, back-to-back one-out knocks from Lin and Dalbec against reliever Cole Irvin brought Arauz to the plate with runners at second and third.

Arauz took full advantage of the scoring opportunity on the third pitch he saw from Irvin, as the 21-year-old laced a three-run homer over the wall in left field to pull his team back even with Philadelphia at four runs apiece.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh though, and the Phillies had jumped out to a three-run advantage at 7-4. Marcus Wilson reached base on a one-out single off Deolis Guerra, advanced to second on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double, and scored on a wild pitch with Tommy Joseph at the plate.

That mishap brought the Sox back to within two runs, but the Phillies again jumped out to another commanding lead to eventually take this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 12-5.

Some observations from this loss:

This game was not televised, but I do believe that it is important to note that Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-1 with a single, walk, and run scored out of the leadoff spot, and as I just mentioned, Jonathan Lucroy came off the bench in the seventh and ripped a double to left. He also struck out in the ninth.

Not that it means much this early in the year, but Jeter Downs, the team’s new top prospect according to MLB Pipleine, did commit another fielding error at second base in the sixth inning.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to Hammond Stadium to take on the Twins on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Homer Bailey will do the same for Minnesota.

Hart is one of several hurlers competing for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, and there may even be two openings now that Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list.

The 27-year-old left plenty to be desired in his most recent outing against the Twins on Monday, as he surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the third inning of an eventual 3-2 loss.

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

 

 

New Red Sox Catcher Jonathan Lucroy: ‘I Feel a Lot Better Than I Have in a Long Time’

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy is entering uncharted territory as he enters his 13th season in professional baseball. That being a veteran on a minor-league deal when just a few years ago you could argue he was one of the top catchers in the game.

When speaking to reporters at JetBlue Park for the first time on Thursday, the 33-year-old backstop did not make light of how he ended up in his current predicament.

“It’s a little strange,” Lucroy said on attending big league camp as a non-roster invite. “This is the first time I have had to do this. But, it’s OK. It’s just a part of the business side of baseball. Honestly, it’s what I deserve. I haven’t played good. So, it’s kind of where we’re at. You make your bed, you got to sleep in it. It’s just something I have to deal with and that’s OK. It’s a part of life.”

Spending last season with the Angels and Cubs, Lucroy posted an unimpressive .232/.305/.355 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games played. He also ranked as one of the worst defensive catchers who caught at least 500 innings, according to FanGraphs.

The Florida native did miss time last year due to a broken nose and concussion, and he underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that he discussed in detail on Thursday.

“I had a herniated disc in my neck the past three years,” said Lucroy. “I’d like to sit here and make excuses to say that was the reason I haven’t played good, but I’m not going to. It did effect me, but I got it taken care of and I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.”

Going back to his days with the Brewers, Lucroy does have some familiarity with Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke, who served as Lucroy’s skipper from 2011 until May 2015.

“I’ve known Ron for a long time,” Lucroy said. “We had a lot of good times together. He’s a really good guy, a really good manager. He’s a quality pickup for the Red Sox. Speaking from experience with him, he’s a huge positive for the Red Sox for sure.”

Lucroy also said that before signing with Boston, he received a call from Roenicke to essentially recruit him.

“He called me and wanted me to come,” Lucroy said of Roenicke. “He was like ‘Look, you got an opportunity here. You come here and you got an opportunity to make a team’ and right now, that’s all you can ask for as a guy in my position.”

The two-time All-Star also mentioned how enticing it was to get the chance to work with Jason Varitek, as the former Sox captain “is very respected in the catching world.”

The road for Lucroy to break camp on Boston’s Opening Day roster is not an easy one, with the club already having former Mets and Indians backstop Kevin Plawecki on its 40-man roster and on a guaranteed deal for the 2020 season, albeit for only $900,000.

Lucroy did not sound all that concerned about playing time in the majors for the time being though, as he emphasized how he has to “make the team first and contribute where he can to help the [Red Sox] win.”

For someone who has the kind of résumé Lucroy does, you might think he would be one to feel disrespected by the notion of not receiving a major-league contract offer, but as previously mentioned, he was brutally honest about his recent performance over the last few years.

“Analytically, I’ve been terrible,” he said. “Seriously, I’m not trying to make excuses. So, I’m not surprised I didn’t get a big league offer. Not at all.”

If he is able to regain some of the form he put on display during the middle parts of the previous decade, Lucroy could be an intriguing addition to a Red Sox team that dealt Sandy Leon to the Indians back in December.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lucroy would earn $1.5 million if he plays in the majors this season. He will be wearing the No. 12.

Red Sox Reportedly Add Jonathan Lucroy on Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with free-agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The deal is pending a physical and includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Lucroy, 33, will join Jett Bandy and Juan Centeno as veteran backstops the Sox have added on minor-league pacts this offseason.

The two-time All-Star slashed .232/.305/.355 with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games between the Angels and Cubs last year.

Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Lucroy underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that had been bothering him for ‘a couple years.’

Back in July, when he was with the Angels, Lucroy was left with a concussion and broken nose and had to be taken to a local hospital after colliding with then-Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick at home plate in Houston. He was sidelined for a little more than three weeks because of it.

A former third-round pick of the Brewers back in 2007, Lucroy should have some familiarity with the Red Sox already, as interim manager Ron Roenicke was his manager in Milwaukee from the start of the 2011 season until May 2015.

Lucroy also has some experience as a first baseman, and is expected to report to Fenway South on Wednesday for his physical, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.