RECAP: Two Swings of the Bat Is All #RedSox Need to Win Eighth Straight.

After completing the three game sweep of the LA Angels on Thursday night, the Red Sox arrived in Oakland on Friday to take on the 9-10 Athletics, who were coming off a sweep of their own.

Drew Pomeranz was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to this one, and he had an interesting 2018 debut to say the least. The Athletics got to Pomeranz for three runs in the first, and the lefty needed 45 pitches just to get through the inning. After that though, Pomeranz settled down for a bit. The Mississippi native held the A’s to just three hits, one walk, and no runs. After recording the second out of the fourth inning, Pomeranz was given the hook in favor of Hector Velazquez. Finishing with a total of seven strikeouts, the southpaw needed 88 pitches to get through his first start, 58 of which went for strikes. If things go according to plan, I’d assume Pomeranz will make his next start on Thursday in Toronto.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen was fantastic yet again. Hector Velazquez tossed three shutout innings while scattering four hits, he departed with runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Brian Johnson would get the call next, and he gave up a single, that quite honestly, should have been caught by Eduardo Nunez, to Matt Olson, the only batter he faced. That loaded the bases and made way for Matt Barnes to get into some game action for the first time since last Sunday.

Facing Matt Joyce with the bases loaded, Barnes definitely created some angst among Red Sox fans watching this game last night. He loaded the count on the first six pitches of the at-bat, but got Joyce to swing and miss on a 94 MPH fastball, ending the inning and preserving the four run lead the Red Sox had.

Barnes went on to collect one more strikeout while tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. That made way for Joe Kelly in the ninth, and he too pitched a perfect inning to lock up the win.

Over the last 24.1 innings they have appeared in, the Red Sox bullpen has given up a grand total of one run. To put it into perspective, that’s a 0.37 ERA.

Offensively, like the title reads, the Red Sox lineup only needed two swings of the bat to beat the Athletics in this series opener. The first swing came in the second, after the Red Sox had just gone down by three runs in the bottom of the first, how would they respond? Well, after Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez both singled with one out in the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. took a Kendall Graveman 94 MPH cutter and cleared the bases with his second home run of the season. A 436 foot shot over the wall in right field with a 106 MPH exit velocity.

That tied the game at three. Later on in the sixth, after the top third of the lineup began the inning by loading the bases on three straight singles, Mitch Moreland stayed hot. On the first pitch he saw from A’s reliever Emilio Pagan and cleared the bases once again.

That marks the FIFTH grand slam the Red Sox have hit already in just 19 games. With that slam, that would be all the scoring the Red Sox would need to pick up their 17th win of the season.

Some notes from this one:

Since April 11th, Mitch Moreland has raises his slugging percentage more than .350 points. His OPS now sits at 1.015.

Since April 10th, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .324/.425/.559 in 40 plate appearances. He got off to a slow start, but it’s nice to see JBJ picking things up at the plate lately.

Chris Sale will be making his fifth start of the season later tonight, as he faces off against Athletics ace Sean Manaea. First pitch is the earliest its been since the Red Sox embarked on this road trip, 9:05 PM ET.

 

RECAP: Benintendi, Lin, and Moreland Account for Eight Hits as #RedSox Squeak by Orioles in 3-1 Win.

Going for their fifth straight series win, the Boston Red Sox took care of business against the Baltimore Orioles on Jackie Robinson Day. In the third installment of this four-game series, it was a battle of aces at a chilly Fenway Park today. Chris Sale, making his fourth start of the season, was matched up against the best starting pitcher on the Orioles roster, Dylan Bundy.

Although he was effective, Sale’s pitch count limited him to just five innings pitched. In that span, the left hander out of Florida allowed just one run on two hits and two walks while fanning eight. Both hits and that one run came across the plate for the Orioles on a Manny Machado RBI double in the first. After that, Sale was nearly perfect, as he recorded seven of his eight strikeouts over the next four innings he appeared in. With his pitch count already at 93 through five innings, Sale’s day come to an end.

Through his first four starts of the season, I have to say that I respect the approach the Red Sox have had with Chris Sale so far. He has yet to throw more than six innings or 93 pitches in any start. Conserving him, along with the rest of the rotation, could prove to be beneficial later in the season and into the postseason as well.

Anyway, it was Heath Hembree who got the call for the top half of the sixth. While he did give up a leadoff single to Craig Gentry, Hembree settled down by retiring the next six batters he faced in the sixth and later on in the seventh. After that, Matt Barnes, who was doing his best to stay warm, tossed a nearly clean eighth inning, as he walked one and struck out two to make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

The flamethrower got Adam Jones to line out to right for the first out of the inning. Then he proceeded to strike out the next two batters he faced on 13 pitches, ending the game and collecting his fifth save of the season. So far in 2018, Kimbrel has yet to allow a run in seven innings pitched, striking out 10 along the way to go with just four walks.

On the other side of things, Dylan Bundy was able to hold the Red Sox lineup in check for a little while. It wasn’t until the fifth inning when they broke through for their first run of the game. That happened after Jackie Bradley Jr. reached first after grounding into a force out and stole second with Andrew Benintendi at the plate. On a 1-1 count, Benintendi took a 91 MPH fastball from Bundy and ripped it down the right field line for a triple that scored Bradley from second in the process and tied the game at one.

With Bundy still on the mound in the sixth, the Red Sox struck for two more runs. The go-ahead run came across with Rafael Devers at the plate and no outs in the inning. With JD Martinez already at third, a ball that got away from Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph gave Martinez just enough time to score and give the Red Sox a one run lead.

Two batters later, Tzu-Wei Lin drove in Mitch Moreland from third on hard hit ground-rule double to give the Red Sox their third and final run of the day.

Speaking of Lin and Moreland, the both of them put together an impressive day at the plate. Combined, they went 5-for-9 with one RBI hitting in the fourth and ninth spots in the lineup. Andrew Benintendi racked up three hits and an RBI himself.

Not the most effective day at the plate, but that’s understandable given just how poor the conditions were in Boston today.

Unfortunately, there will be no game tomorrow. This tweet just popped up on my timeline and I am now bummed out.

Morning baseball on Patriots Day is hard to beat. I guess we will have to wait until May 17th to see if the Red Sox can finish the sweep.

With that in mind, the next game the Red Sox will play will be in Anaheim to take on the red-hot Angels. David Price will get the start for the opener on Tuesday, and he’ll be facing off against Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. First pitch is scheduled for 10:07 PM ET.

 

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis Each Hit a Home Run for the #RedSox Today.

The Red Sox celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style on Saturday. Rocking the green uniforms and clinching their fifth straight win in Grapefruit League play with a narrow 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The lineup did not do much today, but they didn’t need to thanks to the efforts of two first basemen, Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.

Trailing by four runs, Moreland put the first Red Sox run on the board in the home half of the fifth inning, taking a 2-1 pitch from Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge and sending it over the right field wall.

In the very next inning, with runners on second and third, Sam Travis took the game into his own hands and gave the Red Sox a one-run lead by mashing a three-run home run over the Fenway South Monster.

That was all the scoring the Red Sox bullpen needed to lock down this win. With those two home runs, Moreland and Travis now have two and four long balls this spring respectively. The way things look now, it’s difficult to see how Travis will find at bats with the big league club, but performances like the one he had today certainly help his case.

Also, one more shout out to these beauties. I wish they could be worn more than once a year.

#RedSox Resign 1B Mitch Moreland to a Two-Year Deal.

Mitchy Two Bags is back!

Image result for mitch moreland gif

The 32-year-old first baseman is here to stay, signing a contract that will keep him in Boston, barring a trade, through the 2019 season. The deal, which is worth $13 million, may come as a surprise to some. For the past few weeks, it looked like the Red Sox were in on free agent Eric Hosmer. With this move being announced today, I would expect Hosmer to land with the San Diego Padres in the next few days.

In his first year with the Red Sox, Moreland put together a solid season. Nothing great, but nothing too bad either. In fact, his worst stretch of 2017 was mainly due to a broken toe he suffered back in June. Other than that, I was impressed with the defense and run production he provided, mashing 22 long balls and driving in 79 RBIs. Looking forward to more of that in 2018.

Going with Moreland over Hosmer most likely means Dave Dombrowski is pursuing a deal with free agent outfielder JD Martinez. This scenario would also mean that the Red Sox outfield could get shaken up. With the reports out there that Hanley Ramirez could get traded, I would not be surprised if Jackie Bradley Jr. is involved in the same deal. Moving both Ramirez and Bradley would allow Martinez to switch between playing the field and DH’ing, a situation the outfielder probably wants. It would be sad to see JBJ go, but Martinez is an upgrade. As for Hanley, it appears his contract may be tough to move given his lack of production last season. Trading Ramirez could also mean the Red Sox may move away from a full-time DH, something the club has not done in a long time. Between Martinez (potentially), Moreland, and Bryce Brentz, that’s not a terrible idea.

If something comes up regarding free agency soon, I’ll have something.