The Red Sox and Yankees met for the first time in 2018, a season that is expected to reignite the rivalry. (Unrelated side note: The Gang Reignites the Rivalry is a very underrated Always Sunny episode. Thank you for your time.) There wasn’t much intensity in this game, mostly because it’s spring training and nobody cares but also because the Yankees did not bring their biggest names. Cowards! (Also the Yankees won.)
Drew Pomeranz diagnosis is out
This isn’t really part of the recap, but during the game we learned that Pomeranz was diagnosed with a mild flexor strain. Apparently, it is more on the mild side and he reiterated that he is not too worried about the injury. So, hopefully that remains the tone around this injury. He’s going to be reevaluated on Tuesday.
Brian Johnson remains the early favorite to be the fifth starter
While the Yankees kept most of their big names at home in Tampa, the Red Sox did send out a whole lot of players who should be making a major-league impact in 2018. That included almost all of the pitchers who appeared in this game. Getting the start with Brian Johnson, who remains the favorite to start the year as Boston’s number five starter, and he pitched well yet again. The lefty tossed a couple of scoreless innings against New York, allowing a double and a single. He didn’t record any strikeouts, but he also didn’t walk anyone. Overall, the southpaw is pitching very well this spring and given this early performance and his lack of minor-league options, there’s little doubt he’s the favorite to claim the number five rotation spot, at least for the moment.
A mixed bag for the Red Sox bullpen
I mentioned above that the Red Sox sent a whole lot of major leaguers out on the mound in this game, and there were some strong performances and some that, well, they weren’t great! Joe Kelly came on after Johnson and looked mostly good with one strikeout in his inning of work, but he also made one big mistake. He left a fastball up in the zone to Aaron Hicks, and the Yankees outfielder took him deep to right field. Brandon Workman was up next, and while he threw a scoreless inning with one strikeout, he also allowed a pair of singles. Matt Barnes handled the fifth, and was pretty classic Matt Barnes. He did get a strikeout and showed off some sharp stuff, but he also struggled with his control and walked a pair of batters in his scoreless inning. The sixth belonged the Heath Hembree, and the newly short-haired righty struggled, allowing one run on a double, a single and a walk while recording just two outs. Tommy Layne had to come in and finish the inning off for him. Carson Smith came back with a scoreless seventh, though he also couldn’t get through a clean one, allowing a single and a walk while also recording a strikeout. Finally, Robby Scott came in for the eighth with the Red Sox leading 3-2, and he had the worst day on the staff. The lefty allowed a pair of doubles and a pair of walks, leaving with three runs being charged to him while recording just one out. Teddy Stankiewicz came on and finished things off, allowing one inherited run. Kyle Martin finished things with a scoreless ninth. Overall, I don’t think there’s much to take away from these inconsistent performances, though Scott probably has the most to lose. He won’t fall on the depth chart due to one bad outing, but if this piles up he may start the year in Pawtucket, or at the very least could start feeling more pressure from someone like Bobby Poyner.
Xander Bogaerts leads a “meh” day from the offense
The Red Sox lineup also featured a fair amount of major-league contributors, and like the bullpen it was a mixed bag in terms of performance. The best performance belonged to Xander Bogaerts, who is somewhat quietly putting together a really good start to his spring. Boston’s shortstop smacked a single and a double in his two at bats in this game, also scoring a run, and is up to a .556 batting average this spring with a 1.414 OPS. Totally sustainable! That double was the team’s only extra-base hit, and also getting singles in this game were: Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Steve Selsky, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Sam Travis and Esteban Quiroz. Notably missing from this list is Mookie Betts, who is still looking for his first spring hit. The good news is that he drew a walk, marking his first time on base in the Grapefruit League. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we shouldn’t worry about this slump to start spring. The team also succeeded on the bases in this game, with three stolen bases from Jackie Bradley Jr., Aneury Tavarez and Steve Selsky. Defensively, the team didn’t make any errors but Sandy Leon allowed a passed ball and two stolen bases, though he did catch one base stealer.