The Red Sox backed up a rough outing from Clay Buchholz Sunday afternoon, managing to eke out an 8-7 win and getting back above .500 in the Grapefruit League. Here's what you need to know (and probably a good deal that you really, really don't).
He's back? (Good side!): One week of spring training won't erase one year of frustration. Hell, no amount of spring training should move a needle if we want to get really intellectual about the whole thing. But for as little as this one week should count, it feels like the atmosphere surrounding Hanley Ramirez right now is shifting slightly from one of abject terror to one of...abject terror laced with optimism?
Collecting two more hits in Sunday's game, Ramirez has looked a lot like the guy who started 2015 crushing balls left and right before having his offense go to hell when he ran into the wall in left field. He's got that easy power back, planting a double off the wall to give the Red Sox their first run of the game in a 2-for-2 effort, and even went ahead and stole a base for good measure, which might actually be a part of his game now that he's back down to a smaller size.
We still haven't seen much, but what we have seen is good, and he's yet to fall flat on his face at first base. It'll happen at some point. It's inevitable. We just have to hope when it does, it's the first of a rare series of screw-ups rather than just being the norm as it became in left field.
He's back? (Bad side...): Clay Buchholz started this game--his first time back in action since being felled by injury back in July of 2015. In the past, Buchholz has returned from injury an absolute mess, often taking upwards of a year to make his way back into good form. The Red Sox really can't afford to sit through that again in 2016.
But if his first start of spring is at all indicative of what's to come this year, then Red Sox fans should buckle in. Buchholz was all over the place, as were Baltimore's hits off of him. He managed to walk three batters and surrender four runs in the process of recording four outs. Yeah, he wasn't helped by a Xander Bogaerts error, which left three of those runs unearned, but that came on a ball that was pretty much up-the-middle, making it a hard out for Bogaerts to get in the first place, so it's hard to blame him too much for that.
No, this was just bad Buchholz. Remarkably hittable for being awfully wild. It's spring! That's not exactly the end of the world! But it needs to stop, and the sooner it does, the better we can all feel about this whole thing.
Panda-Watch: An inconspicuous 0-for-2. Could be worse. As we have already seen this spring.
John Farrell is a disaster: It's hard to make a huge managing error in spring training, but Farrell has pulled it off. Late in the game, both Travis Shaw and Sam Travis made their way into the lineup. They were batting back-to-back. But they were doing so in that order!
Surely you see the problem? Swap those two, and you have the Sam Travis Shaw dream! You understand how important it is to make that happen, right? I'm alone in this? Oh...I'll go be quiet in the corner. Don't mind me...
At least they hit pretty well: Given six trips to the plate, between them, the Travii managed four hits and two sacrifice flies, driving in four of Boston's eight runs in the process. Travis Shaw is obviously having the better spring thus far since he's hitting .625 thus far even ignoring his 2-for-2 performance in the college doubleheader (though one of his hits came from two Orioles infielders colliding). But Sam Travis is thus far holding his own in major league camp. He won't have to keep that up for much longer before he ends up instilling John Farrell with some faith to call him up if an emergency should arise in the middle of the season.
Mixed results for Rusney Castillo: Rusney put the ball in the air for a double in the second with the sort of swing that threatens to leave the park, then singled on a line drive in the fourth. Good! The Red Sox need to see him put some lift on the ball in 2016. Which is exactly what he didn't do when he knocked an easy double play ball to shortstop on an 0-1 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Oi.