RECAP: Velazquez pitches into sixth; JBJ homers; #RedSox drop game one in KC 4-2.

After taking two out of three from a very impressive Houston Astros over the weekend, Hector Velazquez and the Red Sox looked to carry that momentum to Kansas City for a three game series against the Royals. No one was expecting the Mexican native to go more than six innings, so it was good to see him make it into the sixth. Velazquez didn’t dominate, allowing five hits and only striking out three in the 5.1 innings pitched, but he did scatter those hits for the most part. The only real mistake he made came in the bottom of the third. With two outs and a runner on, Eric Hosmer took Velazquez yard, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead. Other than that though, not bad stuff from a spot starter at the end of the rotation.

For the second night in a row, the bullpen was rather iffy. Fernando Abad came in to relieve Velazquez, but he gave up a hit and walked a batter before being removed, having failed to record a single out. Blaine Boyer would come after Abad, and he too was rather bad. After finishing off the sixth, Boyer came back out for the seventh, which was a different story. The Royals reached base three times off Boyer in the seventh, scoring twice, the first run being the go-ahead run. Things could have gone differently, as a one out triple from Drew Butera could have been a single if Jackie Bradley Jr. did not dive and miss, but he did. Robby Scott would come in to try and get out of the seventh, and that’s exactly what he did. Austin Maddox made his second career appearance out of the pen, and he pitched a scoreless eighth.

Offensively, the lineup couldn’t do much against the veteran righty Jason Hammel. Like Velazquez, the only real mistake Hammel made was a home run off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr., his ninth of the season. Speaking of JBJ, he recorded his first three hit game of the year, so it’s good to see him come into his own with the bat again. Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez also had multi-hit games, so those four accounted for 90% of Red Sox hits last night. Those two runs that came off the bat of JBJ were the only runs the Red Sox could score though, as the Royals bullpen shut them down over the last two innings.

Today is Sale Day, which is good. First place was fun while it lasted.

39 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Porcello struggles; Hanley homers; Pedroia walks it off as #RedSox win 6-5.

With the Phillies in town, there was a sense that the Red Sox needed to take both games in order to stay in striking distance of the hot Yankees. It didn’t look good at first, I mean, the Phillies scored four times in the first. I don’t know what to think about Rick Porcello right now. Statistically, he’s looking like 2015 pre DL Porcello, but when I watch him pitch this season, I have this confidence in him since he won the Cy Young last season. After giving up four in the first, Porcello would go on to pitch five more innings, only giving up one run in that span. After that, the Red Sox bullpen was incredible. Joe Kelly, Roby Scott, Craig Kimbrel, and most importantly Matt Barnes, combined to pitch five innings while only allowing four hits, zero hits, and striking out seven, including five from Barnes. Good stuff from the pen, Porcello makes his next start in Houston, so hopefully he can have a nice rebound start there.

Offensively, the Red Sox had plenty of work to do right from the start. Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started in the second, mashing his ninth home run of the season to center field. In the third, two more runs were tacked on. The first came on a Dustin Pedroia ground out that scored Mookie Betts. The second came off the bat of Andrew Benintendi again, this time an RBI single that scored Mitch Moreland. Another run would cross the plate in the fourth when Jackie Bradley Jr. scored on a Mookie Betts double. Fast forward to the eighth when the Red Sox trailed by one, Hanley Ramirez came to the plate with the chance to tie, and that’s exactly what he did, blasting a solo shot, his ninth, completely over the Green Monster. The game would stay tied until the eleventh, when Dustin Pedroia drove in the game-winning run on a walk-off single.

A win is a win, and that was definitely fun to watch, but it really shouldn’t take that much to beat the worst team in baseball.

35 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: David Price makes strong 2017 debut; #RedSox drop tough one in Chicago 5-4.

After winning six in a row, it looked like this Red Sox team had started to find their way as a whole. Well, now the Red Sox have hit another snag, dropping their second consecutive game on Memorial Day. This game had plenty of hype beforehand, and that was because David Price, the $31 million dollar man, was making his first start of the 2017 season. For someone who has not faced Major League batters since last October, Price was mostly good throughout the 5 innings he pitched. Like I said yesterday, I was expecting the worst for Price, and many people were, but I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw from the 2012 Cy Young Award winner. He really only got into trouble in the third inning, when he walked two of the first three hitters he faced. Melky Cabrera would come up to the plate next, and he took full advantage of Price, taking him yard to left center, driving in three, and giving the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Price would go on to pitch two more innings, getting taken out after five full with only 88 pitched because of a pitch limit. So, the bullpen was responsible for the last three innings of the game, and they had a one run lead to work with. Joe Kelly walked one while pitching a shutout sixth, and he was relieved by Matt Barnes, who was awful. Barnes gave up three hits and two earned runs, which gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead, and that would be the final score. Blaine Boyer made his second appearance for the Red Sox, and he retired the White Sox in order to end the eighth inning. The biggest takeaway pitching wise is obviously David Price’s strong return to this rotation. Sale, Price, Porcello, and even Rodriguez could really be something special if they all pitch the way they are capable of. Another thing I took away from this loss is the bullpen. Yesterday it was Hembree, today it was Barnes. Two guys John Farrell relies on heavily in key situations. With the returns of Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg still being question marks, these guys need to pitch on a more consistent basis.

Offensively, the Red Sox were flat for the second game in a row, only recording four hits on the afternoon. They got the first run in this one, which usually results in wins, but that didn’t help on Monday. Xander Bogaerts drove in the first run of the game, hitting a sac fly that allowed Mookie Betts to score from third. After not scoring in the second and third, two more runs crossed the plate in the fourth. The first coming when Hanley Ramirez scored on a Christian Vazquez double, the second coming on a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground out, which scored Sam Travis from third. The final run the Red Sox scored, which was the go-ahead run at the time, came in the fifth, when Mookie Betts drilled one out barely over the left field wall, his fifteenth of the season. Seeing Mookie going 2 for 4 on Monday was definitely encouraging to see. It was kind of a weird game for substitutions, since the Red Sox made plenty of them. Dustin Pedroia had to leave the game early with a wrist issue, and he was replaced by Josh Rutledge. I just saw that he is heading back to Boston for an MRI, so that’s discouraging. Sam Travis only played like the first four or five innings, he was defensively replaced by Mitch Moreland. It was also interesting to see Sandy Leon, a .240 hitter this season, pinch hit for Deven Marrero in the ninth. That move didn’t work, to nobody’s surprise.

If you really want to be an optimist, you can take Price’s performance and say this game was a positive. But, I’m looking at it more like this team is heading back down to earth after that win streak. I wouldn’t be surprised if Farrell’s on the hot seat again in one-two weeks.

27 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox defense falters in 5-2 loss to Orioles in series opener.

After feeling pretty good about taking two out of three from the Chicago Cubs, Rick Porcello and the Red Sox were looking to take another series, this time, from the Baltimore Orioles. Porcello got off to a fantastic start, only allowing two hits through the first four innings. The Orioles would get their first run in the first, off an RBI double from Caleb Joseph that scored Jonathan Schoop. Porcello’s day would be over after the sixth, where he gave up a solo home run to Manny Machado. Another quality start from the defending Cy Young Award winner, finishing with a line of 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 7 Ks. The pitch count was sort of a problem for Rick, and it started when it took 11 pitches to get leadoff hitter Seth Smith to ground out. Porcello falls to 1-4, his fourth consecutive loss, despite throwing three straight quality starts. It comes as a surprise that the Red Sox aren’t scoring for Porcello, especially since he got a lot of run support last year. Obviously, can’t blame Rick for this loss.

Heath Hembree would come in to relieve Porcello, and he did great in the seventh, getting the Orioles 1-2-3 while striking out two. Things would go downhill for Hembree in the eighth. After walking Seth Smith (who was replaced by Craig Gentry), Adam Jones grounded out to Hembree. Having the chance to turn a double play, Hembree threw the ball towards second base. Unfortunately for Hembree, the ball didn’t find a glove and found its way onto the outfield, allowing Gentry to reach third and Jones to reach first. Manny Machado would come up to bat, and he was able to reach first on a Marco Hernandez fielding error, which also allowed Gentry to score. Mark Trumbo would single to left, and Andrew Benintendi’s error allowed Jones to score and Trumbo would advance to second. Fernando Abad would come in for the Red Sox with one out in the eighth, and got out of the inning, but not before allowing Manny Machado to score on a sac-fly from Chris Davis. So, the Red Sox defense clearly has issues. Ten errors over the past four games is unacceptable, especially for a team that finished fourth in the league in fielding percentage last season. I really think the Red Sox are going to need a third baseman who’s not a defensive liability. I don’t know if that would happen via trade or within the farm system but I do think a change will have to be made soon.

After averaging five runs per game against the Cubs, the Red Sox went back to their usual offensive ways on Monday. Not scoring until the eighth inning, when they were already down 5-0, honestly stinks. Andrew Benintendi has been the most valuable player with the bat, as he leads the Red Sox in just about every offensive statistic besides batting average (Vazquez). It was good to see that Hanley Ramirez finally got a hit after an 0 for 16 slump, even if it was just a bunt single. Other than Leon, I’d say the player to be most worried about offensively is Jackie Bradley Jr. After an 0 for 3 performance (1 BB), Bradley’s batting average now sits at .196. Now, we always knew that Bradley’s bat wasn’t exactly a strength, but it seemed like Bradley put that behind him last year with that massive hitting streak he had. It would not surprise me if Bradley got the day off tomorrow, or maybe even more time off.

13 down, 81 to go.   

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RECAP: #RedSox improve to 70-52 on Patriots Day; defeat Rays 4-3.

On Monday, the Red Sox took the field at a very unique time, 11 A.M in the morning. For the past 58 years, the Red Sox have had a home game on Patriots Day. It’s a very special day in Boston because of one of its biggest sporting events, The Boston Marathon. Marathon Monday and Red Sox baseball in the morning go together amazingly here in New England. I’d say its one of the best traditions in all of the United States.

The reeling knuckleballer Steven Wright got the start for today’s game, and he got off to  quite simply a terrible start. Three straight hits to start the game led to the Tampa Bay Rays scoring twice in the first, with runs being drove in by Brad Miller and Steven Souza Jr. Wright would settle in after the first however, as he pitched five scoreless innings and got taken out of the game after giving up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. The final line for Wright looks like this: 6+ IP, 9 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), one walk, and four strikeouts. Overall, not a terrible performance from Wright, it was more of a bounce back from his previous two starts. The outing could have gone much worse and Wright will look to build on this performance when he takes the mound against the Orioles.

The Red Sox offense scored all their runs in the first and second innings. Hanley Ramirez drove in the first run, scoring Dustin Pedroia on his single. In the second inning, Andrew Benintendi drove in Marco Hernandez on an RBI single and Mookie Betts drove in Dustin Pedroia with another RBI single. Rays starter Blake Snell deserves some credit for settling down after the second, and so does the Rays bullpen for throwing another three shutout innings. Back to the offense, Andre Benintendi and Mookie Betts both had another multi-hit game, with Benintendi collecting three and Betts collecting two. 9 RBIs in 13 games is nothing to scoff at when it comes to Benintendi, especially with the absence of home runs (his only home run came on Opening Day). Mookie Betts is Mookie Betts. I expect the power to come as the season progresses, but it’s a good start for Mookie with a BA of .325 and an OPS of .800.

Last thing about the game I want to mention is Craig Kimbrel’s save streak. I really think expectations are set too high for Kimbrel because of guys like Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen. Kimbrel isn’t a “super-reliever” like those guys, he’s a flamethrower, plain and simple. Sometimes I think Kimbrel doesn’t even know where some of his fastballs are going, he just whips them. Sure it can be nerve-wracking when he’s out on the mound.but converting 25 straight save opportunities going back to last season.

Also, I was at this game, my first Red Sox game on Patriots Day. Let me tell you, morning baseball is awesome. The fact that you could buy a hot dog and a beer at 9 A.M embodies the American spirit. Being able to watch some of the Marathon runners go through Kenmore Square after the game was pretty cool as well.

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8 down, 86 to go. 

RECAP: Red Sox don’t use Sale’s start to their advantage; lose finale in Detroit.

The Red Sox dropped the fourth and final game of this series against the Tigers. Chris Sale took the loss, a bad luck loss to say the least, and Justin Wilson picked up his first victory of the season. As I said, Chris Sale is not to blame for this loss, he nearly pitched eight full innings while striking out 10 and only walking 1. Unfortunately for Sale, the opposing starter, Justin Verlander was just as good, only giving up 1 unearned run and three hits over 7 innings. It appeared that Chris Sale started running out of gas when his pitch count was around 100. Sale was rolling, giving up only run through seven innings. The eighth inning was a different story, though. After giving up a two out double to Andrew Romine, Sale followed that up by walking Ian Kinsler. With men on first and second, Nick Castellanos got the best of Sale, knocking in Romine with a base hit. This was it for Sale, as he came out with 2 outs in the 8th and Heath Hembree finished off the inning.

The Red Sox offense could not formulate any type of rally today and they continue to look sluggish. First baseman Mitch Moreland had the hottest bat today, notching three hits, including a double, in four plate appearances. It looks like Moreland has adjusted well since Opening Day, as he has gotten his Batting Average up to .333 and his OPS to an impressive .927. The rest of the Red Sox lineup looked dismal and the only other player that recorded a hit was Dustin Pedroia. It’s still a waste of energy to get too concerned about the offensive production coming from this team since we have barely seen Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts. Until this lineup is fully healthy, I’m not going to get too worked up. I like what I’ve seen from players like Mitch Moreland and Sandy Leon. One player I am concerned about is Pablo Sandoval, who has started the season by batting a measly .130. The Red Sox really do not have a long-term solution if Sandoval fails to pick things up. Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, and Marco Hernandez are all capable of playing third base, but they are relied on for their versatility. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if Sam Travis converts to a third baseman in Pawtucket since that would be similar to what happeened with Travis Shaw. Another option at the hot corner could be prized prospect Rafael Devers. The 20 year old has started this season in Portland and it feels like he’s been in the organization forever. If he progresses in Portland like Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi did, then perhaps he could be an option later in the season.

Also, bad news with JBJ. He just got put on the new 10 day Disabled List with a sprain in his right knee. I did not think it would come to this, even Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations, said a few days ago that JBJ shouldn’t have to go one the DL. It is what it is, and it looks like Andrew Benintendi will take over in center based on what is being reported.

3 down, 91 to go.