Another spring day, another spring loss. Of course, the results of these games don’t matter and it’s just a matter of getting everyone ready for real games. Still, a win or two would be neat.
Nobody wants to be the sixth starter
In a camp bereft of any meaningful positional battle, one of the most interesting will actually be taking place at Triple-A. We all know who the top six starters will be this year, assuming everyone is healthy. Eventually, injuries will happen, and they’ll need to dip beyond those six. Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Roenis Elias are battling to be the first pitcher they’ll look to. No one is pitching like it, though. Owens got the start on Wednesday, and had a very typical Henry Owens day. In two innings the lefty allowed four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three. Three of the hits went for extra bases, including one home run off the bat of Adam Jones. Command and control have always been Owens’ biggest issues, and he’s not showing improvement just yet. It’s obviously still early, but nobody is grabbing hold of this potential role and they could be opening the door for Hector Velasquez.
Tyler Thornburg and spring training do not get along
For as bad as Owens was in this one, the pitcher who followed him was even worse. Thornburg — who is expected to be the team’s number two in the bullpen — only recorded two outs in the third before being relieved of his duties. In the midst of recording those outs, he allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits, one walk and one strikeout. In fairness, his poor performance was exacerbated by an error from Andrew Benintendi in which the outfielder overcommitted to a single and allowed the ball to sneak by him. Either way, it was Thornburg’s second horrid outing in as many tries. Fear not, however, as he posted an ERA over 10.00 last season and put together an incredible regular season for the Brewers. Spring training is weird.
The rest of the pitchers were....eh
It was a mixed bag for the rest of Boston’s pitching staff, but fortunately no one else matched the rough days of Owens and Thornburg. Jalen Beeks finished off the third inning for the latter and induced a pop out to end the inning. Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless inning each, with both pitchers allowing one base runner. Fernando Abad didn’t make a good impression, as he allowed* three runs on a home run off the bat of old friend Sean Coyle. Those runs were unearned, however, as he would have thrown a one-two-three inning were it not for a throwing error from Rafael Devers. That was followed by a walk before Coyle’s blast. It’s assumed that Abad will get a chance to earn his keep in the major-league bullpen to start the season, albeit with a short leash. A bad spring could conceivably keep even that from happening, though. Ben Taylor struck out two in the eighth inning, but also walked a batter and allowed an RBI double.
*For some reason, MLB.com says Heath Hembree allowed that home run in the seventh inning. This is false. However, I have no idea who pitched the sixth. Whoever it was threw a 1-2-3 inning. Good for them.
Andrew Benintendi goes deep
It had been a quiet start to the spring for Andrew Benintendi, but he got out of that slump pretty quickly. As the second batter in the game, the game’s top prospect smashed a line drive over the fence in right field for a two-run home run. It helps even out the error he’d make in the third inning. Elsewhere in the lineup, Sam Travis continued the hot start to his spring, hitting a double and also drawing a walk. He was later replaced by Rafael Devers, who made up for his error by walking in both plate appearances and scoring one run. Matt Dominguez and Junior Lake had two hits each, and Cole Sturgeon reached base twice. It’d be surprising if any of those last three names saw the majors this season.