Saturday represented the first split-squad day on Boston’s schedule this spring, as half the team faced off against the Rays and the other half took on the Twins. The good news for everyone is that even those who travelled stayed in Fort Myers. By wins and losses, they split the day. By run differential, it was a different story.
Another rough one for Henry Owens
Spring training stats don’t matter, but the general feel of a player’s performance definitely can. Henry Owens, for example, needed to show that he had some semblance of command if he is to be trusted in the regular season. So far in camp, he has not done that. He took the mound against the Twins on Saturday, and was horrible. The southpaw allowed six runs on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 2 1⁄3 innings. At one point, he threw seven straight balls and 11 in 13 pitches. Owens now has 12 walks in 7 1⁄3 innings of work this spring. For your own safety, do not calculate the BB/9. He is falling farther and farther behind on the rotation depth chart, and will need to show new-found command if he’s to get called back up to Boston.
Strong day for Chris Sale
Starting in the other game against the Rays was Chris Sale, who was making his second start in a Red Sox uniform. His first one was fine, but Saturday’s version looked a lot like the version Boston traded for. He went four strong innings against Tampa, shutting them out over that time on one hit and one walk while striking out five. Sale has obviously been one of the most effective pitchers in baseball over the last few years, so there’s no reason to dig too deeply into his spring starts. Health is all that really matters here. That said, it’s always nice to see an ace throw like this, even when it doesn’t matter.
Relievers excel against the Rays, falter against the Twins
On Saturday, it seemed as if those coming out of the bullpen were following the lead of those starting the games. Coming in after Sale were Noe Ramirez, Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, Brandon Workman and Erik Cordier. All of them pitched one inning, and Workman was the only pitcher to allow a run, and he allowed just one. Ramirez was particularly impressive, striking out three of the four batters he faced. While Scott pitched a scoreless frame, he also allowed two singles and a walk. He is looking to push Fernando Abad off the roster. Against the Twins, the pitchers following Owens were Chandler Shepherd, Marcus Walden, Ben Taylor, and Taylor Grover. Grover was the only one to not allow a run, and he only faced one batter. Obviously, the pitchers who faced the Rays are more highly regarded, but it still would’ve been nice to see stronger performances from some relievers who could be important depth pieces later in the year.
Another quiet day for the offense
The good news is that Boston’s lineup is mostly a known quantity, and their performance is even less important this spring than it is in other camps. The two lineups scored just two runs in 18 combined innings of work. Mitch Moreland was the only player with multiple hits on the day, and one of them was an RBI double. Pablo Sandoval also had an RBI against the Rays, and probably more importantly he looked really solid defensively at third base. Against Minnesota, Andrew Benintendi and Marco Hernandez each had doubles, marking the only extra-base hits for Boston in that game. Rafael Devers got the start at third and managed a single in the contest.