Chris Sale Named #RedSox’ 2019 Opening Day Starter

Prior to Sunday’s split-squad action against the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that Chris Sale will get the start for Boston on Opening Day in Seattle on March 28th.

Fresh off a seven-strikeout performance in his spring debut yesterday, Sunday’s announcement marks the second consecutive season the ace left-hander will make his first start of the year in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.

This bit of news was originally supposed to be revealed by Cora following Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Braves, but he decided to hold out and add some drama to what appeared to be a pretty easy choice to make.

Entering his eighth full major league season, Sale owns a 1.93 ERA while fanning 32 over 28 innings in four previous Opening Day starts with both the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

In five career appearances (four starts) at T-Mobile Park against the Mariners, the left-hander has surrendered six earned runs and struck out 44 over 29.1 innings of work.

As things are currently lined up with the Red Sox going to a six-man rotation to start their 2019 season, it appears as though Sale will also be getting the start for the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 9th at Fenway Park.

Regarding how the remainder of Boston’s rotation will fill out to at least start the season, that is not yet known due to David Price being scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of an illness.

Sale, 29, went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 32 games started for Boston in 2018.

His next and what should be final Grapefruit League start will more than likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park on Thursday.

 

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Chris Sale Fans Seven and Mookie Betts Homers as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Victory over Braves

The Red Sox improved to 7-13-1 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, marking their first win since March 5th.

After tossing three innings in a minor league contest this past Monday, Chris Sale finally made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut in this one.

With a pitch limit set at no more than 65, the ace left-hander held Atlanta scoreless while scattering two hits and striking out seven, five of which came consecutively, in four quality frames of work. He did not walk a single batter.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 50 before heading out to finish his day in the Red Sox bullpen, Sale topped out at 93 MPH with his fastball and also mixed in a fair amount of changeups and sliders.

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, we got a significant glimpse at what could potentially be the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to surrender only one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over the final five innings on Saturday.

Like Sale, Brasier also made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Previously dealing with a toe infection earlier in the spring, the 2018 standout reliever struck out one while also allowing that lone Atlanta run to cross the plate in their half of the sixth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, finally put together his first shutout performance of the year, as he retired three of the four hitters he faced in a solid seventh inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Braves number-two prospect Kyle Wright to start things off on Saturday.

As he typically does, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston by lacing a one out first inning single off Wright.

One Mitch Moreland double later, and JD Martinez collected his first RBI of the spring on a sac-fly to right.

That plated Betts and advanced Moreland to third, who would then come around to score himself on an RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox an early two-run advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Betts struck again by blasting his first home run of the year off Braves reliever Shane Carle, a monumental solo shot over the JetBlue Park Green Monster.

An inning later, Brock Holt would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run frame for Boston by drawing a leadoff walk off Luke Jackson.

Two back-to-back RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. later, the Red sox found themselves up 5-1.

After stealing third, Bradley would come in to score on a Chad De La Guerra sacrifice fly, which would plate the club’s sixth and final run of the day, as 6-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Eduardo Nunez had himself a nice day at the plate with that RBI double. He also flashed the leather at third on a hard-hit ground ball from Adam Duvall in the fourth inning.

Darwinzon Hernandez, who was responsible for the final two innings on Saturday, briefly received a visit from Alex Cora and a trainer in the eighth, but remained in the game to close things out.

In his third game back, Dustin Pedroia went 0/3 out of the leadoff spot. He started the first five innings at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be some split-squad action against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

One group will remain in Fort Myers to host the Rays with David Price slated to start, while the other group will head to Bradenton to face the Pirates, with Marcus Walden getting the start there.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is listed as Sunday’s starter for Pittsburgh, while Tampa Bay will be going with lefty Ryan Merritt.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN has the Rays game covered.

Also, here’s what Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s win:

JD Martinez Returns to Lineup as #RedSox Get Blown out by Yankees in Tampa

The Red Sox fell to 6-13-1 in Grapefruit League on Friday afternoon following a 14-1 shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees in Tampa.

As indicated by that final score, this was not and ideal day for Red Sox pitching.

Making his fourth appearance (third start of the spring), Hector Velazquez kicked things off by allowing four runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout in less than two full innings of work.

After loading the bases by allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the second, the right-hander managed to only surrender two Yankees runs, with DJ LeMahieu reaching on a fielding error to score Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez scoring from third on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly, before Alex Cora made the first call to the bullpen.

With Adam Lau now on the mound and runners at the corners, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge greeted the 2015 37th-round pick by blasting his fifth home run of the spring over the center field wall.

That homer put the Red Sox in an early five-run hole, which turned out to be one they never recovered from. Lau did strike out the next and final hitter he faced in Giancarlo Stanton, though.

From the middle of the third on, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Poyner, Jordan Weems, Erasmo Ramirez, and Ryan Weber combined to give up nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and surprisingly no other home runs.

Mejia put together the best performance of any Red Sox reliever on Friday, as he retired the side in order with one punch out in a scoreless third inning.

Poyner, meanwhile, was hit the hardest, as the left-hander could only sit down one of the seven hitters he faced in what would turn out to be another five-run frame for the Yankees.

Through six outings this spring, Poyner owns an ERA of 8.22 and a WHIP of 1.57 over seven total innings. Not favorable numbers for someone looking to make Boston’s Opening Day roster like he did last season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who figures to have a shot at cracking New York’s starting rotation with ace Luis Severino out all of April.

German, 26, shut out the Boston bats in four impressive frames of work, allowing just three total baserunners while fanning six in the process.

In fact, it wasn’t until the sixth inning when the Red Sox finally get on the board.

Facing off against new Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino, three consecutive no out hits from Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez would plate the club’s first and only run of the afternoon on a GIDP off the bat of Sam Travis.

So, no RBI awarded there and the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-1. They have not won a Grapefruit League contest since March 5th.

Some notes from this loss:

As stated above, JD Martinez was back in the Red Sox lineup on Friday after dealing with back tightness earlier in the week.

According to @RedSoxStats: In 13.2 innings this spring, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have combined to give up 28 hits and 18 earned runs.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head back to Fort Myers to play host to the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

Right-hander Kyle Wright, who is ranked as the second best pitching prospect in the Braves’ system according to MLB Pipeline, is slated to start for Atlanta.

And for the Red Sox, it will be Chris Sale making his 2019 Grapefruit League debut. The left-hander tossed three innings in a minor league game this past Monday, meaning he will be coming off a regular five days of rest. Should be exciting to see.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 ET. NESN has it covered.

Steve Pearce Belts Two Homers, Heath Hembree and Durbin Feltman Make Spring Debuts as #RedSox Halt Losing Streak in 4-4 Draw with Tigers

The Red Sox improved(?) to 6-12-1 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday following a 4-4 draw on the road against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. The tie officially puts an end to Boston’s seven-game losing streak.

Making his fourth start of the spring in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez.

Working the first five innings, the left-hander surrendered three earned runs on three hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts, doubling his spring total in one outing.

All three of those Tigers runs came around to score in the bottom half of the second, highlighted by a pair of run-scoring doubles from Jeimer Candelario and Grayson Greiner off of Rodriguez.

Other than that, the 25-year-old hurler was nearly perfect as he retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced, which also included a three-strikeout third inning.

In total, Rodriguez faced 20 hitters. Through four starts this spring, the Venezuela native owns a 4.15 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 13 total innings pitched.

From the top of the sixth inning on, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Domingo Tapia, and Durbin Feltman combined to toss four frames of one-run ball on two hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts.

For Hembree, Thursday’s action marked his first appearance of the spring. The right-hander fanned the only three hitters he faced in a scoreless seventh inning.

Feltman, meanwhile, also made his 2019 debut in this one. According to MLB Pipeline, he is ranked as the 12th-best prospect in Boston’s farm system

A 2018 third round selection out of Texas Christian, the 21-year-old struck out the first two hitters he faced, walked Gordon Beckham to put the potential go-ahead run on base, then proceeded to pick off Beckham to retire the side in the ninth and thus end the game. Not bad for your first ever Grapefruit League action.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd, who figures to be a significant member of Detroit’s rotation in 2019.

Starting the scoring in the fourth, Steve Pearce got his team on the board by mashing his first home run of the spring, a two-run shot off Boyd to pull Boston to within one run.

After CJ Chatham drove in the then-tying run with an RBI single in the fifth, Pearce was at it again an inning later, as the 2018 World Series MVP took Tigers reliever Victor Alcantara yard for his second long ball of the afternoon.

That made it a 4-3 ballgame at that point in the sixth, which would be all the scoring the Red Sox could muster in what would end up being a 4-4 stalemate.

Some notes from this draw:

Rafael Devers went 2/3 with a run scored on Thursday. In 29 Grapefruit League at-bats, the corner infielder is slashing .448/.448/.690 with one home run and four runs driven in.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Feltman’s fastball was hovering around 94-95 MPH while his slider was sitting at 83 MPH with a “vertical break.”

Speier also noted that free agent closer Craig Kimbrel’s agent David Meter was on hand at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday and “briefly crossed” paths with Dave Dombrowksi. Something to monitor there, perhaps.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head to Tampa to take on the New York Yankees on Friday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is slated to start for Boston, while fellow righty Domingo German will do the same for New York.

First pitch at George M. Steinbrenner Field is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. Boston 25 is the way to go if you will be watching within the Boston market, while NESN will have it covered if you will be watching outside said market.

Nathan Eovaldi’s Solid Spring Debut Not Enough as #RedSox Fall to Twins for Seventh Straight Loss

The Red Sox fell to 6-12 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 9-5 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, marking their seventh consecutive defeat. Minnesota now has the advantage in the race for the 2019 Chairman’s Cup at three games to two.

A recurring theme for the Red Sox these past few days has been star pitchers making their 2019 spring debuts, and that was the case once again with Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday at JetBlue Park.

Making his first ever Grapefruit League start for Boston, the right-hander looked sharp, surrendering just one run on one hit and one walk to go along with one strikeout. A whole lot of one’s.

That lone run came off the bat of former top prospect Byron Buxton, who led the third inning off for the Twins with his fourth home run of the spring.

Other than that one mishap, it was relatively smooth sailing for Eovaldi, who faced one over the minimum nine hitters.

From the top of the fourth inning on, Colten Brewer, Brian Johnson, Adam Lau, Josh Smith, and Dun Runzler combined to give up eight runs on nine hits, two walks, two HBPs, and three strikeouts.

Working the fourth inning, the run allowed by Brewer was unearned due to a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts. Still, the 26-year-old was charged with a blown save.

Johnson, meanwhile, was handed down his second losing decision of the spring, as the southpaw got shellacked for four Minnesota runs on four hits, including a Brian Navarreto two-run homer, in less than two full frames of work.

In three outings so far this spring, Johnson owns a 14.40 ERA and 2.20 WHIP over five total innings.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which again featured many regulars, was matched up against Twins ace Jose Berrios to start things off.

Getting the scoring started for Boston in this one was Blake Swihart, who built on his ninth inning RBI double from Tuesday with a two RBI two-bagger in the second inning on Wednesday.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, after the Twins had just jumped out to a 6-2 lead of their own, and Brock Holt pulled the Red Sox a little closer by driving in Eduardo Nunez all the way from first on an RBI double off Matt Magill. For Holt, his fifth RBI of the spring.

Finally, in the ninth, with this contest essentially out of reach in Minnesota’s favor already, Red Sox prospect Tate Matheny tried to get another late rally started with a two out, two-run triple off Twins reliever Dusten Knight.

Alas, Minnesota would hold on to take this one, as 9-5 would be your final score on Wednesday.

Some notes from this loss:

JD Martinez was initially slated to start at left field for the Red Sox, but was scratched from Boston’s lineup due to back tightness. That is why Bryce Brentz started in left instead.

The Red Sox are 0-7 in their last seven games. In those seven games, they have been outscored 53-15. I understand that it’s just spring training, but it’s something to keep an eye on nonetheless.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the trek up north to visit the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland on Thursday.

Eduardo Rodriguez will be making the start for Boston, while fellow left-hander Matthew Boyd will do the same for Detroit.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 EDT. MLB Network will have it covered.

David Price Fans Four in Spring Debut as #RedSox Drop Sixth Straight

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox fell to 6-11 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park, marking their sixth straight defeat.

Like Rick Porcello did on Sunday, 2018 postseason hero David Price made his 2019 debut in this one, getting the start against one of his former teams.

Working the first three innings, the left-hander surrendered two runs on a pair of hits and walks to go along with four strikeouts in his first in-game action of the spring.

Both of those Detroit runs came in the top of the third, when with two outs and a runner on first, ex-Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer blasted his second home run of the spring to give his new club a two-run advantage.

Other than that one blunder, it was relatively smooth sailing for Price, as he faced three over the minimum nine hitters.

In relief of Price, Matt Barnes, Bobby Poyner, Darwinzon Hernandez, Marcus Walden, Erasmo Ramirez, and Jenrry Mejia combined to give up an additional two runs on three hits, six walks, one HBP, and six strikeouts over the final six frames.

Barnes, who looks poised to be Boston’s closer to start out the 2019 campaign, bounced back from a rough spring debut Saturday and escaped a fourth inning bases loaded jam while holding Detroit scoreless on Tuesday.

Hernandez, meanwhile, had his scoreless appearances streak come to an end in this one, as he allowed Daz Cameron to score on a Kody Eaves two out RBI double in the sixth.

Finally, to close things out, Mejia sat down all but one of the four Detroit hitters he faced in a shutout ninth inning to keep Boston’s deficit at three.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez was held in check yet again.

Matched up against Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris to start things off, Boston was limited to just three runs on the day, which is actually the most they have scored in a game since last Tuesday.

In fact, all three of those runs were plated in the Red Sox’ half of the ninth.

CJ Chatham got the late rally started by drawing a leadoff walk against Tigers reliever Kyle Funkhouser, who then proceeded to hit Sam Travis with a pitch to put runners on first and second.

Mike Miller followed that up by driving in Chatham on an RBI single up the middle, which in turn led to a Detroit pitching change.

With Jose Manuel Fernandez now on the mound for Detroit and one out in the inning, Blake Swihart pulled his club one run closer by lacing an RBI double left to score Travis and advance Miller to third, who would then come around to plate the third run of the frame on a Gorkys Hernandez RBI groundout.

Unfortunately, a Bryce Brentz strikeout would put an end to any potential comeback effort, and 4-3 would be your final score on Tuesday in favor of Detroit.

Some notes from this loss:

When asked about Price’s outing, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “David looked excellent. Velocity. Command. Presence on the mound.”

When asked about it himself, Price responded with a bit of self-criticism.

“To be honest, that homer is not what bothers me the most,” the southpaw said following his start. “It’s the two two-out walks that I had. Gave up that homer and then went 2-0 on the next hitter and then was able to bounce back and throw quality strikes and get that third out. First time back out there in however many months, I’m okay with it.”

On the field, Dustin Pedroia went 1/2 with a single in his second game back, while Blake Swihart accounted for Boston’s lone extra-base hit on Tuesday with that ninth inning RBI two-bagger.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park on Wednesday in the fifth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Right-hander Jose Berrios will be getting the ball for Minnesota, while fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi will be making his 2019 debut as well as his first ever Grapefruit League start for Boston.

Looking to put an end to this six-game skid, first pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 ET at JetBlue. This game will not be televised.

 

#RedSox Option Top Prospect Michael Chavis to Triple-A Pawtucket Among Other Roster Moves

In their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox announced the following roster moves Tuesday morning:

Among the notable transactions would be top prospect Michael Chavis being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Chavis, 23, had a hot start to the spring with three home runs in his first four games, but has since cooled off a bit, slashing just .167/.167/.417 with one homer over his last 12 at-bats.

Right-hander Travis Lakins, Right-hander Chandler Shepherd, and left-hander Josh Taylor have also been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while right-hander Denyi Reyes was optioned to Double-A Portland.

Lakins, ranked as Boston’s 15th-best prospect, posted a 2.57 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in five relief appearances and seven innings pitched this spring.

Taylor, who was the player to be named later in the Deven Marrero trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, allowed four runs in seven innings of work across four appearances. He also recorded seven strikeouts.

The Red Sox also announced that Rusney Castillo, Josh Ockimey, Austin Rei, Tony Renda, Mike Shawaryn, and Carson Smith, all of whom were non-roster invitees, have been reassigned to minor league camp.

Castillo, 31, has two years and $24.5 million remaining on the seven-year, $72.5 million deal he signed as an international free agent back in 2014.

If I were to guess, I would say that all three of Lakins, Taylor, and even Shawaryn will contribute out of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019.

Speaking of the Red Sox bullpen, top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez survived the first round of roster cuts, which may indeed speak to the amount of faith the club has in him at the moment.

The 22-year-old left-hander has yet to surrender a run while fanning 10 in seven innings pitched over three outings so far this spring.