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Red Sox 3, Tigers 4: David Price’s return not enough to get Sox on track

Fewer runs allowed, but still not the kind of day the Sox were looking for.

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

For Tuesday’s spring training game against the Tigers the Red Sox sent out a lineup that could be used a lot in the regular season and had David Price on the mound. In the midst of an ugly five-game losing streak, the defending champs had a chance to get back on track. The pitching wasn’t terrible, struggling some with command but still holding Detroit to only four runs. Unfortunately, the offense was flat again and they scored only three runs, all of which came in the final frame. So, the losing streak jumps to six.

David Price looks solid in return

We didn’t get a chance to actually watch David Price’s return to the mound as there was no television broadcast for the day. We do have his line score, though, as well as tweets from beat writers in attendance. Things got off to a great start for the southpaw, as he allowed a base hit to the Tigers leadoff man but Andrew Benintendi got the runner trying to stretch it to a double. Price came back and struck out the next two batters. The second was similarly impressive, with the Tigers getting a runner on a walk but they didn’t get beyond first base after a pop out, a strikeout and a ground out. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep it going in the third. Price got two outs to start off that inning, but then issued his second walk of the day before letting Jordy Mercer go deep for a two- run shot. That broke the 0-0 tie, and after getting the third out Price’s day was over. Overall, it was a solid performance and the four strikeouts in three innings is certainly something to be happy about. With two walks and the home run there’s some command imperfections, but that’s to be expected for a pitcher’s first outing. Reports had him hitting the corners with some of his fastballs early on and his velocity sitting in the 91-93 range. That’s basically where you want him at this point on the calendar.

The bullpen works around some walks

After Price left the game, the Red Sox turned to a handful of relievers to toss one inning each to close out the game. Matt Barnes was first up, looking to make up for a rough first outing of 2019 in which he got hit hard. That wasn’t an issue here, but it still wasn’t a perfect performance. Barnes didn’t allow a run, but he had to work around a bases loaded jam after a pair of walks and a base hit. Bobby Poyner came out for the fifth and after a leadoff walk the southpaw got three straight outs for a scoreless inning of his own. Next up was Darwinzon Hernández, who has probably been the best pitcher on the roster this spring. The impressive lefty had his worst outing so far in 2019, following two quick outs to start his inning with a walk, a double and a hit-by-pitch. Control has been Hernández’ issue for his entire career, and he lost it a bit in this one. Marcus Walden then came in and got into some issues of his own, though he was hurt by a C.J. Chatham error at shortstop to lead off the inning. Walden then walked a couple and with a sacrifice fly he allowed one unearned run. Erasmo Ramirez and Jenrry Mejia handled the last two innings with relative ease, with the latter allowing the only baserunner between the two on a single.

MLB: Boston Red Sox-Workouts Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The bullpen is obviously going to be under a microscope this spring as it is easily the biggest question on the roster looking ahead to the regular season. Their performances of late haven’t put any minds at ease, and while we all know spring performances can be misleading most of us are just looking for something to make us feel a little better. For whatever it may be worth, I’m not worried about anyone who pitched today. Barnes can lose control at times and that can spell trouble, but he’s still getting into a rhythm. Hernández is going to have outings like this all the time, and one with control issues isn’t going to change my feelings on him. The rest of the arms are depth options at best and were fine with that role in mind.

Other Notes

  • Offensively, the Red Sox had a lineup full of guys who figure to be regulars once the real games start, but that group of hitters is struggling mightily. Boston did have eight hits in this one, but seven were singles and Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Dustin Pedroia and Christian Vázquez were the only starters with a base hit. Nobody looks particularly impressive at the plate over the last week or so.
  • They did start putting some good at bats together in the final inning and they almost came back to tie the game. Chatham, Sam Travis and Mike Miller all got on base to start off the inning, and then with two on Blake Swihart hit a big RBI double. Eventually Bryce Brentz had a chance with a runner in scoring position and two outs, but the outfielder struck out to end the game.