The Red Sox picked up their fourth win in a row on Friday taking a rare spring night game over the cross-town rival Twins. Rick Porcello got the win in this one, though it certainly wasn’t his sharpest outing as he continues to have a relatively rough spring. Offensively, the top of the order got things going early on and the team never relinquished that early edge.
The top of the lineup is starting to roll
There has been some inconsistency in the spring performances of some of Boston’s key hitters, which is obviously to be expected. Now, though, as we are less than two weeks away from the games actually counting, some of the key guys are starting to get rolling. That was brought into focus on Friday when the top of the lineup of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez got together in another Opening Day preview. The group came through in the first in this one. That first inning started with a Betts single immediately followed by a stolen base. Then, after Benintendi drew a walk Ramirez and Martinez hit back-to-back doubles and just like that the Red Sox had three runs on the board. They’d only score one more run in the game, but this was an example of how explosive this top half of the lineup should be able to be at times in 2018.
Overall, Ramirez had the best day at the plate for the Red Sox on Friday, getting a double and a single with two RBI and a run scored in the game. He was the only player with multiple hits, though Brock Holt did get on base twice with a double and walk. Holt has put together a nice little spring and it would seem likely that he’s passed Deven Marrero on depth chart for that last bench spot. Also getting singles in this game were Sam Travis and Marrero. On a more negative side, it was a forgettable day for Rafael Devers and Blake Swihart who each went 0-3. Of course, both have been impressive for the bulk of the spring so one bad game is nothing to stress over.
Rick Porcello wasn’t sharp but he limited damage
Porcello has always had rough springs since coming to Boston, so it’s hard to say that his performance so far in camp is something to be worried about. That being said, he is one of the bigger wildcards on Boston’s entire roster, so it obviously would have been nice to see him show some lights out stuff. The good news is that he made it through five innings on Friday and only allowed two runs, which is certainly a manageable outing. The bad news is that the Twins were able to square him up fairly often, particularly in the earlier innings. Overall, the righty walked two batters and allowed three doubles and two singles to give up the two runs. Porcello also struck out five batters. He’ll likely start the year as the de facto number three starter, and the Red Sox could really use a step up from his performance in 2017.
In the bullpen, the Red Sox first turned to Heath Hembree to hold on to a small lead and the righty was terrific. Hembree is out of options and thus a near certainty to make the Opening Day roster and he only reinforced that decision on Friday. He tossed two perfect innings against the Twins, striking out three batters in the process. Hembree won’t play a huge role in the bullpen if all goes according to plan, but having him for the middle innings and being able to get more than three outs is a quiet little luxury for the team. After Hembree the team turned to minor leaguer Ryan Brasier for a couple of outs before calling upon Robby Scott for one out to finish the eighth, and he did so with a K. It seems Alex Cora is getting his left ready for some one-out outings with his last few appearances. Minor leaguer Adam Lau finished things off with a quick 1-2-3 ninth.