The Red Sox got a chance to play the Yankees on Friday and shut down the scary New York lineup (
note: I know it was not the real Yankees lineup in full, but let’s have some fun, yeah?) Not true, Matt). The top performer by far was Brian Johnson, who has had a tremendous spring and looks ready for real baseball to start. Me too, Brian, me too. Also, Sam Travis hit a home run because it’s a day in March that ends in “y”.
Brian Johnson shines again
It’s still unclear how the Red Sox rotation is going to shake out to start the year due to health questions with Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, but it sure sounds like the team is already planning on Brian Johnson starting the fifth game of the season. The lefty has given them no reason to feel wary about that decision, and that continued on Friday against the Yankees. Obviously,
this wasn’t against the vaunted Yankees lineup we can expect to see throughout the regular season not true Matt, but we’ll take what w can get at this point, Johnson wasn’t able to make it through five full innings in this one, but that was a minor issue. Ultimately, he got through 4 2⁄3 innings without allowing a run. Johnson also only allowed two hits — a single and a ground-rule double — to go with five strikeouts and one inning. He got into a bit of trouble in that fifth inning, hitting a batter before allowing the ground-rule double to Neil Walker before being pulled. It’s been a hell of a spring for Johnson, who is out of options and is likely to split time between Boston’s rotation and bullpen. He’s now made five starts with a total of 15 2⁄3 innings and has a phenomenal 1.72 ERA. It’s hard to not at least be content with Johnson as rotation depth at this point.
Taking over for Johnson when he got into trouble was Robby Scott, who was looking to bounce back from a disastrous outing on Thursday. He only faced one batter in this game, but he certainly got back on track by escaping a jam by inducing a Brett Gardner groundout. Scott is still on the bubble for one of the final bullpen slots, and on Friday he at least showed an ability to put a bad outing behind him. After Scott, the Red Sox looked a little bit lower on the starting pitcher depth chart in Justin Haley. The righty has been solid this spring, and while he won’t be in the optimistic plans this summer it shouldn’t surprise you if he gets a start or two at some point in 2018. He had another strong outing in this one, tossing four very impressive scoreless innings in which he allowed just three hits (two singles and a double) and one walk while racking up four strikeouts. He’s now the owner of a 2.12 ERA this spring.
The offense does enough to win
Boston’s lineup has been up-and-down this spring, and lately it seems they’ve been putting a hurting on every team they come across. It wasn’t a beat down on Friday, but they had a solid all-around day that led to a victory. The team had two home runs against the Yankees, both coming from Triple-A depth players. The first was from Ivan De Jesus, who’s buried on the infield depth chart but has opened some eyes this spring. In the third inning he took an outfield fastball from Masahiro Tanaka and blasted it the other way just over Aaron Judge’s glove for a solo shot. De Jesus also got a double and a single in this game with two runs scored and two driven in. Sam Travis also contributed a big spring as he continues to show power. Like De Jesus, Travis is buried on his depth chart, though he undeniably has a better chance to contribute in the majors. Power has, of course, been his biggest weakness as a pro, and while he’s done this in camp before he does at least have a swing change from the winter to hang his hat on. Friday’s homer was impressive, though not exactly a moonshot. Leading off the sixth inning, Travis got a fastball down and away from Chasen Shreve and hit it on a line out just over the wall in the right field corner. It was Travis’ sixth homer this spring, putting him in a seven-way tie atop the MLB leaderboard this spring.
Those two homers plus De Jesus’ double were the only extra-base hits for the Red Sox in this game, but it wasn’t the only damage. As a team, Boston was able to muster 11 hits against the Yankees, getting singles from: Deven Marrero, Andrew Benintendi, Jeremy Barfield, Rafael Devers, Mike Miller, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart (who started in left field and also got some time at first base), Dan Butler and Cole Sturgeon.