The Red Sox had a second consecutive really rough game down in Fort Myers. The results of these games obviously don’t matter, but at the same time we’d rather have good results than bad if for no other reason than it’s more fun to watch and talk about good baseball than bad baseball. The main story here was Dustin Pedroia’s return to the diamond, and that went well. Other than that, there were some good swings from the regulars, but the pitching was rough.
Dustin Pedroia gets work in for his debut
Pedroia getting back into the action was what everyone was watching for on Thursday, though the Red Sox didn’t keep him in the game very long. That’s a hard decision to criticize, of course, as the veteran missed essentially all of last year and the goal is to have him ready to play nearly every day in April, not to be at full strength on March 7. The plan was for him to get one at bat and two innings in the field, and the hope was that he’d be able to run a bit. It all worked out. Pedroia did make one routine play in the field, which was great to see. He wasn’t challenged there, but he got the first play out of the way. In his lone at bat, he swung for the fences on the first pitch he saw (and missed) before eventually smacking a base hit the other way past a diving shortstop. He then scurried over to second base on a passed ball before coming around to score on an RBI double from Rafael Devers. All in all, you couldn’t really ask for more if you’re the Red Sox. Pedroia should be back in the lineup on Saturday.
The broadcast was the best part of this game
Seeing Pedroia back in action was fantastic, and I wouldn’t argue too hard if you said that was the best part of Thursday’s game. I would say it was a close second. ESPN had the broadcast on Thursday, and they did a great job getting in-game interviews from players as they were on the field. They did a bit of this on Wednesday, too. What set Thursday apart was that Mookie Betts was involved, and in case you didn’t know he is just the best. Betts shared the plights of changing diapers — his response to this question was to call his newborn daughter “nasty” — he talked about his golf game and got the rest of the outfield involved during a pitching change. If you have a chance to watch a replay of this broadcast, do yourself a favor and watch the top half of the second inning. Brock Holt was mic’d up for the fourth inning, and he was also very good.
A tough day for pitching
It’s been a rough couple of days for the Red Sox pitching staff, even if you don’t include the long-term loss of Steven Wright. They’ve now allowed 18 runs over the last two games, and this game saw the Twins score runs in all but the first and final frame. Brian Johnson got the start and after a good first inning he started to get hit hard in the second. The lefty allowed four hits to five batters in that inning, including a triple, before being removed with just one out. He allowed three runs in his 1 1⁄3 innings of work. To be fair, he is working his way back from an illness. Brandon Workman came in next, and his velocity was down in the high-80s. He also didn’t have great command and allowed a run on a walk and two singles, though he did get a strikeout as well. Erasmo Ramirez and Marcus Walden were the next two pitchers and are each looking to jockey for position among the emergency rotation options. Both got hit hard and allowed a combined three runs on seven hits over three innings. Jake Thompson was probably the worst pitcher of the day. The 2017 draft pick is a minor-league arm who struggled mightily in 2018. He’ll be shifting to a bullpen role in 2019. The righty allowed three runs on three hits including a pair of home runs. The Red Sox pitching is going to be a question this year beyond the starting five, but these last two games aren’t reason to panic. These pitchers aren’t at full strength yet and most won’t be playing a big role without multiple injuries. Still, we’re not feeling better, either.