It seems like every day now I am writing an intro to a spring training recap harping on the fact that spring results don’t matter and there’s little reason to worry about poor performance this time of year. There are certainly individual performances about which one can be concerned, of course, but generally speaking spring results don’t carry into the regular season. The fact that this keeps being brought up, though, just means the Red Sox have played a lot of bad games of late. That upsetting trend continued on Sunday as their pitching was shelled by Tampa’s offense and Boston fell 8-1. Over their last five games they have been outscored 40-7. Not great!
Rick Porcello makes his 2019 debut
Boston is starting to get some in-game work for their rotation, and Rick Porcello was the first 2018 playoff starter to get a spring start this year. The righty looked solid in his first inning of work, sitting in the low-90s with his fastball and getting a lot of soft contact. A throwing error from Rafael Devers extended the frame a bit. In the second, we saw the return of Porcello’s Achilles Heel as he allowed a solo home run to Joey Wendle to lead off the inning. Although he got through the rest of the inning with just a single allowed, he came back in the third and allowed a homer to Mike Zunino as well as a triple to Michael Pérez. All in all, Porcello allowed two runs on four hits with a strikeout in three innings. He certainly wasn’t as sharp as he could have been, and seeing him allow two homers in three innings is not a great feeling, but it was his first outing of the spring. We obviously can’t make too many judgements based on that.
Hector Velázquez and Brandon Workman keep up the homer party
While it was the first appearance of the spring for Porcello, the same could not be said for Boston’s next two pitchers: Hector Velázquez and Brandon Workman. The former came in for the fourth and ended up staying in for two rough innings of work. After getting two quick outs to start the fourth, the righty gave up a solo homer to Guillermo Heredia, a single to Austin Meadows, a stolen base, a double to Zunino and a single to Ji-Man Choi. Mercifully, Choi was thrown out trying to get to second base, but the Rays still had three runs in the inning. For good measure, Velázquez allowed a solo homer to Avisaíl Garcia in the next inning to give him four earned runs in his two innings. Workman, meanwhile, only stayed out for inning but that was long enough for him to allow two solo homers.
Velázquez has had a rough spring, allowing eight runs in 6 2⁄3 innings over three appearances, though to his credit he does have seven strikeouts and no walks. Still, he’s been smacked around a bit and may be in danger of losing his grip on the final roster spot. Workman, meanwhile, should be pretty close to a lock for the Opening Day roster but he’s struggled a bit of late, too. This was his second consecutive outing with his velocity sitting in the high-80s. That could be a symptom of dead arm, which is somewhat common this time of year, but the Red Sox will need him to get that strength back soon. He’s now allowed at least one run in each of his last three outings.
- It’s hard to look past the rough pitching in this one, but the offense didn’t do anything too spectacular either. They have not scored more than two runs in a game since Tuesday. In this one, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Steve Pearce went a combined 0-11 with three strikeouts. Eduardo Núñez had the best day for Boston, going 1-1 with a double and a walk. Pearce, to his credit, did have the only RBI for the Red Sox. Minor leaguers Brett Netzer and Aneury Tavarez both had doubles off the bench.
- The pitching did turn it around, relatively speaking, in the late innings. Colten Brewer is trying to fight his way onto the Opening Day roster, and while the righty hasn’t been super consistent this spring he was good here. After a leadoff walk he immediately got a double play and another ground out to get out of the inning. Brian Ellington loaded the bases on two singles and a walk but kept the Rays from scoring any more runs thanks to two strikeouts and a pop up.
- The Red Sox have the day off on Monday, but it will still be a big day in camp. Chris Sale returns to the mound in a minor-league game on the back fields.