The Red Sox got the win on Monday against the Blue Jays in large part because all three catchers were in the lineup and all three had strong days at the plate. Even among them, Sandy Leon stood out with a pair of homers in the game. The pitching was also solid, though they didn’t send the big names out.
All three catchers make the case to be kept
The Red Sox plated six runs on Monday against the Blue Jays and half of them were because of home runs from catchers. Alex Cora sent all three of his catchers in the starting lineup in this game and hit them all back to back. Blake Swihart got the nod at first base, one of the many spots at which he should see time in 2018, Christian Vazquez was behind the plate and Sandy Leon was Monday’s designated hitter. Swihart was first in the order, and he had one hit in three at bats, but he made the most of that one hit. In the fifth inning he launched a solo home run off Al Alburquerque. He also struck out in this game. Vazquez was up next, and he was a slacker relative to the other two backstops. All he did was go 2-3 with a double and a single. Pffft. Leon was third among this trio but he had the best day launching a pair of solo home runs, both off Jays starter J.A. Happ. Swihart has obviously been hot this spring, and at this point it’s a virtual lock that he’ll make the Opening Day roster and is now just making an argument for more playing time. Vazquez is quietly having a solid spring at the plate and is solidifying himself as the number one catcher on the roster. Leon, meanwhile, is also having a strong spring and is up to a 1.374 OPS, though that will happen when you hit two home runs and are dealing with small sample sizes. Is it likely that he can recapture that 2016 magic? Not really! But it sure would be neat, and he tapped into it for one day, at least.
The rest of the offense was cool, too
The catchers were surely what we will take away from Monday’s game, but the rest of the lineup was solid as well. As a team, the Red Sox smacked 16 hits on the day with nine of them going for extra bases. Four of those extra-base hits came from the catchers, but they also got a triple from Rafael Devers and doubles from Andrew Benintendi, Rusney Castillo, Deven Marrero and minor-league infielder Mike Miller. Castillo also got a single along with the double out of the leadoff spot as well as a stolen base, and he’s up to a .294 batting average with a .783 OPS this spring. Also getting hits in this game were: Minor-league outfielder Cole Sturgeon, Oscar Hernandez, minor-league infielder Jantzen Witte, Ivan De Jesus and minor-league outfielder Kyri Washington. On a more negative side, the team was knocked for two errors with one going to Devers and the other to Marrero.
An up-and-down day for the pitchers
The Red Sox didn’t send any major-league shoo-ins on the road to face the Blue Jays on Monday, but they still had some noteworthy names on the mound. Hector Velazquez got the start as he continues to push for an outside shot at starting the year in the rotation. The righty got into some trouble early on allowing three straight hits including a two-RBI double and then allowing another runner on the Devers error. He got back on track from there, though, escaping with a strikeout and a double play. Velazquez allowed one more run and ended up going three innings allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Velazquez has been inconsistent this spring, but his Opening Day fate likely relies more on the health of Drew Pomeranz than his own spring performance. Roenis Elias was on next for the Red Sox, and he tossed a scoreless inning though he allowed a single and two walks in the process. Minor-league depth righty Marcus Walden came on for two innings next and allowed just one hit, though it was a solo homer to Aledmys Diaz. Justin Haley finished things off with three strong innings in which he didn’t allow a run. He did walk a batter and give up two singles while striking out three. I’ve said this after his last few outings, but don’t sleep on Haley as potential major-league rotation depth in 2018.