The Red Sox won in a blowout on Thursday against the Nationals, but it didn’t always look like that’s how it would go. Max Scherzer started the game for Washington and was dominant because, well, of course he was. He’s Max Scherzer. Once he left, though, Boston’s lineup went off. Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his torrid spring, Brock Holt went deep, and Blake Swihart had a big RBI single on what had to be an emotional day for him. All in all, good performance for the Red Sox.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is unstoppable
If the Red Sox lineup will be looking for anything in 2019, it would be a little more length. Obviously they were great last year, but they were also a little top-heavy. They’ll take runs however they come, but it would be nice to get a little bit more of a well-rounded contribution. Part of that could be Jackie Bradley Jr., who struggled for most of the first half before turning it on in the second half. It was a typical year for the center fielder in that he just can’t seem to stay on a consistent path all year. That can be fine — he’s been plenty valuable over his career — but also frustrating to watch in real time. Over the offseason he worked hard to recreate his swing in search of some consistency and came into camp booming with confidence. Well, it’s hard to argue with the early returns. Bradley is absolutely torching Grapefruit League pitching right now. He was the only Red Sox hitter to get a hit off of Scherzer, and on the day he ended up going 3-3 with a couple singles and a double. It’s only been three games, of course, but he is currently 6-8 to start the spring with two homers and a double. Pretty good! What kind of odds can we get on JBJ winning MVP? (I’m only, like, 90 percent kidding.)
Jenrry Mejia strikes out the side
The Red Sox pitching didn’t have a whole lot of notables on the day, but perhaps the most exciting name in terms of recognition was Jenrry Mejia, who came in for the ninth. The righty was, of course, formerly the Mets’ closer before he failed multiple PED tests that resulted in a lifetime ban from MLB. That didn’t last a lifetime, obviously, and he was reinstated for this year. The Red Sox decided to take a chance on a minor-league deal, and he made his spring debut on Thursday. This was the ninth inning of an early spring game, so the competition wasn’t exactly top notch. That being said, he looked pretty damn good with some solid stuff. He struck out three batters while walking just one. Is that really striking out the side? I say yes. Many others on the internet say no. Feel free to yell at me in the comments.
- The big story coming into the game was Swihart playing just a day after losing his adopted brother, Romell Jordan. It was obviously an emotional decision, but the catcher said that’s what Romell would have wanted and Alex Cora obliged. Swihart got to have a big moment when he knocked in a run in the fourth inning, at the time cutting the Nationals lead down to three. He was taken out for a pinch runner immediately following the base knock, heading back to hugs and high fives from everyone in the dugout.
- For all of the runs scored in this one, the Red Sox still only hit one home run. It came off the bat of Brock Holt, his first dinger of the spring. Holt figures to play a big role for the Red Sox this year as they presumably try to get Dustin Pedroia some extra rest over the course of the season. If they try to limit as much of Eduardo Núñez’s playing time to third base like we hope, that would mean Holt will be handling the backup duties at second base. Coming off a career-year in 2018 and only one season from free agency, things are setting up for big 2019 for the team’s clubhouse leader.
- Xander Bogaerts and Bobby Dalbec each had solid days in the starting lineup as well. The former had a couple of hits including a double, while the latter drew a couple of walks.
- Mookie Betts is hitless through his first two games of the spring. I have faith that you’re not worrying about that, but in case the thought crossed your mind remember that he went his first seven spring training games without a hit last year. Nothing matters, unless it’s good. That being said, Christian Vázquez is looking rough at the plate (0-8 in three games) and I’m not feeling great about that.
- On the mound, Hector Velázquez got the start for the Red Sox. He was solid in his first inning of work but then got hit around a bit in the second. After solid contributions for all of 2018 he probably has the inside track for a roster spot, but he has options so theoretically someone can come and grab it from him. Before games started I thought Colten Brewer would take that spot, and it still wouldn’t surprise me.
- Denyi Reyes had the third and fourth and he struggled as well. Reyes, of course, is one of the more intriguing prospects in the system as he has done nothing but put up numbers, though scouts aren’t as high on his stuff as the stats may suggest. Still, he was added to the 40-man roster this winter despite having not pitched above High-A, so they’d like to see him hit the ground running in 2019. His outing on Thursday was rough, though, allowing two runs on a double, two singles and three walks.