The Red Sox are blazing hot right now, losing just one game in their last twelve. Their latest win came in the form of a shutout against the defending world champs and the overwhelming favorite to win again in 2018. It wasn’t without its concerns as Chris Sale took the mound to start and had to leave in the first inning after getting hit with a line drive. He’s feeling confident he’ll be on the mound for Opening Day in Tampa, though. Things are lookin’ up!
Sox pitchers combine for a shutout
This day was supposed to be all about Chris Sale, but obviously that didn’t work out what with him leaving after recording just two outs and all. The rest of the pitching staff picked up the slack, though, and shut out a phenomenal Astros lineup. After Sale left the game, Boston turned to minor leaguer William Cuevas in an emergency situation. The righty did not seem fazed by what was laid out in front of him. He wasn’t perfect on the day, but he kept Houston off the scoreboard. Cuevas ended up getting through the fourth inning, allowing just a double and three singles over 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Cuevas doesn’t figure to be more than an organizational arm, but there’s a chance he can be a little more than that and even if not he showed how valuable an organizational arm can be on Saturday.
After Cuevas exited, it was back to the major-league roster for a couple innings. Heath Hembree came on first and continued a solid spring with an alright outing, tossing a scoreless frame in which he struck out a batter and allowed one double and a walk. Brandon Workman was next and he had a scoreless inning of his own, allowing a single, a walk and recording one strikeout. Hembree, as we’ve stated before, is a near lock for the Opening Day roster given his relatively strong spring and the fact that he’s out of minor-league options. Workman is firmly on the bubble, though, and this was likely a step in the right direction at least. The Red Sox had this one finished off by some minor league depth with Trevor Kelley, Tommy Layne and Ryan Brasier each tossing a scoreless inning.
Xander Bogaerts leads the way on offense
While shutting out the Astros will always give the pitchers top billing in a game recap, the offense was able to put up six runs in this game and Xander Bogaerts was the standout performer. In what has been an impressive spring at the plate for the Red Sox shortstop, Bogaerts continued to shine. He had two hits in three at bats in this game, and his biggest swing came in the fifth. Here, he took a hanging breaking ball and absolutely demolished it out to left field. It was his third home run of the spring, and that’s a great sign for someone who needs to show more power in the coming year. Bogaerts is up to a 1.061 OPS this spring.
Bogaerts had the spotlight, but Eduardo Nuñez wasn’t far behind with his performance. The speedy infielder hasn’t played a ton this spring and he hasn’t been a standout, but he’s been mostly fine against Grapefruit League competition. He was more than fine on Saturday, smacking three singles in four at bats and driving in a pair of runs. He did get caught stealing as well, though. The Red Sox also got multi-hit games from Mitch Moreland — who hit a triple and a single — the recently extended Christian Vazquez and the recent roster battle winner Brock Holt. They also got extra-base hits in the form of doubles from Mookie Betts, Sam Travis and 2017 third round pick Brett Netzer. J.D. Martinez had the other hit in this game as he went 1-4 with a single. On a more negative note, Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-3 and continues a tough spring that sees him with a .151 batting average and a .529 OPS. You know what they say, though. Spring training stats only matter if they make a Red Sox player look good.