The Red Sox picked up their first loss of the 2019 season on Monday, but the good news is there was no video evidence so it’s like it never happened. Unsurprisingly since the game was on the road, the Red Sox did not send too many regulars to this game, though the lineup did feature a lot of depth options that could appear in games at the highest level this year. Boston did hold the lead for most of this game, but they blew it in the bottom of the eighth and couldn’t come back in the ninth. The bullpen is already blowing games, am I right? Here are the main takeaways from the game.
Bryce Brentz the lone standout on offense
Overall it was a rough day for the Red Sox offense, though they did get one bit of good news. Bryce Brentz flashed us all back to 2017 for a quick minute in the second inning of this game. The right-handed outfielder came up with two outs and nobody on, looking to avoid an easy 1-2-3 inning. He did more than that, launching a solo shot out to left field to give Boston an early 1-0 lead. We all know Brentz has real power, but it’s always nice to see that in action. He, of course, was infamously left off the September roster in 2017 despite that team’s desperate need for offense. This year he’ll hope to get a chance back in the big leagues for the first time since 2016. He’s not a great defensive player, but the good news for him is that the Red Sox have three center fielders on their major-league roster, so defense isn’t as important on their depth chart as it is for the average team. Given the lack of outfield depth off the major-league roster, Brentz will at least be considered if one of the starters gets hurt at some point in 2019.
The rest of the offense disappoints
Brentz had the big swing, but the rest of the offense didn’t do too much. The biggest names in the starting lineup for this game were two of the three catchers duking it out for an Opening Day roster spot, Blake Swihart and Sandy León. The former started behind the plate while the latter was slotted in as the DH. Neither player got a hit in three plate appearances for each, with Swihart walking once and striking out twice while León struck out twice without reaching base. Elsewhere, spring training superstar Sam Travis went 0-2, Bobby Dalbec went 0-2 with a walk and Michael Chavis went 0-2 with a strikeout coming off the bench. Other than Brentz’ home run, the only other hits on the day were singles from Tzu-Wei Lin, Gorkys Hernández and Chad De La Guerra. The team’s other two runs came on a two-run error from Pirates pitcher Elvis Escobar.
Some good and some bad from the pitching
On the pitching side, the Red Sox didn’t see a ton of big names there, though they did get a start from Brian Johnson. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring as he fights to make sure he’s got an Opening Day roster spot locked down. All signs point towards that being the case, but stranger things have happened. He tossed two innings in this game and was a little shaky, though not disastrous. He did allow a run and two doubles in the game as well as throwing a wild pitch that helped lead to his one run. He also struck out a pair of Pirates, though, and got three ground outs. The most impressive pitching performance of the day came from Bobby Poyner, who tossed an easy 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. The left-handed reliever is probably going to head to Pawtucket to start the season, but he’ll get his chance in the majors at some point even if it’s not right away. Of course, he wasn’t expected to make the majors last year either but impressed enough in camp to get an Opening Day roster spot.
The rest of the game was filled with minor leaguers, though free agent signing Domingo Tapia does hope to make the majors at some point this year. The former Mets and Reds prospect was solid on Monday, allowing a couple of singles in two scoreless innings with a strikeout. Tapia is going to start the year as emergency depth, but could become more if he gets off to a hot start in Pawtucket. After that, Boston got a pair of scoreless innings from Jordan Weems — a coverted catching prospect — and Daniel McGrath. They had a 3-1 lead heading into the eighth before Jhonathan Diaz imploded, allowing three runs on a single and three walks. Diaz is coming off a strong year in
Salem Greenville in which he posted a 3.00 ERA with 147 strikeouts and 39 walks over 153 innings. Sox Prospects has him moving up to Salem to start 2019. Hunter Smith officially blew the save, allowing an inherited run to give Pittsburgh the lead.