The Red Sox got back on the field after Saturday’s game was called with just two-and-a-half innings in the books. Rick Porcello was on the mound for Boston, and he looked good in the middle and got singled to death in the bookends of his outing. The Red Sox relievers who will pitch in the majors all had relatively strong days, though. On offense, Boston left a bunch of runners on base, but the good news is that Mookie Betts went deep.
Mookie Betts goes deep
If everything goes according to plan in 2018, the best position player on the Red Sox is going to be Mookie Betts. Though it hasn’t really been cause of concern, there’s no denying that Betts has had a rough start to his spring. He has gone most of camp to this point without a hit, finally getting that monkey off his back on Thursday with an infield single. The star outfielder’s second hit was a little better. Hitting in the leadoff spot, he got things off to a hot start for Boston’s offense taking a fastball down the middle of the plate from Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey and smashing out over the left field wall. It was his first homer of the spring, of course. Betts came to the plate two more times in the game and walked in both of them. Like I said, there was never much concern about Betts’ slow start, but it’s still nice to see him have a strong day at the plate. The rest of Boston’s offense was fine in the game, though they struggled to capitalize with runners on, stranding 10 on base in the game. Jackie Bradley Jr. was the biggest culprit here, stranding four runners on the day, though he did get a single. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts both went 0-3 with three runners left on. Other than Betts’ home run, Boston’s only other extra base hit was a double from Rafael Devers, his third two-bagger of the spring. Hanley Ramirez came through with a multi-hit game out of the DH spot with a pair of singles in three at bats. Also getting hits on Sunday were Chad De La Guerra, Brock Holt and Blake Swihart, who started the game behind the plate. Boston was also 1-2 in stolen base attempts, with Aneury Tavarez successfully swiping a bag and Holt getting gunned down. They also flashed some nice leather in the outfield with Tavarez and Rusney Castillo each making a nice play.
Rick Porcello gets singled to death
Starting on the bump for Boston on Sunday was Rick Porcello, making his second start of the spring. The 2016 Cy Young winner had one of those days were he just couldn’t stop giving up singles. In fact, he allowed base hits to the first three hitters he faced, resulting in one run, and he’d allow a second run on a two-out single. After a couple of 1-2-3 innings, Porcello got into more trouble in the fourth, allowing three singles and hitting a batter to allow two more runs. In all, Porcello allowed four runs on seven singles and one hit by pitch with three strikeouts in the game. On the one hand, it was nice to see that the Orioles weren’t teeing off on the Red Sox righty in the form of home runs or even extra-base hits in general. On the other hand, we’ve seen in the past that he has had issues with giving up strings of singles. Porcello and the Red Sox will obviously look for ways to prevent that from becoming a theme in 2018.
After Porcello’s up-and-down outing, Boston’s bullpen came through with a largely strong day besides for the very end. Carson Smith was on first, and all he did was go out and record three strikeouts in the inning. One of them came on a wild pitch, though, so he had to face a fourth batter and induced a ground out. Smith is a big X-Factor for Boston this year, as he can totally transform the shape of the bullpen if he’s anything close to the guy he was with Seattle in 2015. After Smith was Heath Hembree, who had a 1-2-3 inning on a fly out and a couple of ground outs. The seventh belonged to Robby Scott, and after a pair of strikeouts to kick off the inning he got in a bit of trouble with a single and a walk before escaping on a fly out. The end of the game belonged to minor leaguers, with William Cuevas coming on for a scoreless eighth with one single. Dedgar Jimenez started the ninth but had a really tough day, giving up two singles followed by a three-run home run right off the bat. He’d get two outs before allowing another single and getting taken from the game. Adam Lau finished the inning.