The Red Sox got back in the win column on Sunday after a couple of losses in a row in their previous two games. This time it was largely on the back of the pitching, which was great for almost the entire game. In the end, it was a 4-2 victory that did get a little dicey in the ninth. Some notes!
Nathan Eovaldi dominates
With the rotation a question mark when everyone is healthy and Chris Sale already set to start the year on the injured list, there may not be a player more important to this team’s success than Nathan Eovaldi. Injuries are a huge part of that, but we can’t predict when or if he’ll get hurt. We can think about his possible performances, however. The early returns this spring have been phenomenal. After he came out with a strong showing in his first outing while pumping triple digits with the fastball, he was probably even better this time around. We didn’t get velocity readings, but the results spoke for themselves. Eovaldi allowed just one hit over three innings of work — and the hit was a slow chopper that Jeter Downs had to come in on and his throw to first was in the first. It was a tough play, but it feasibly could have been ruled an error — with no walks and four strikeouts. All of his pitches were good and he looked like he was hitting most of his spots. The splitter in particular impressed me.
Your daily battle update
There really wasn’t any appearance from battlers on the pitching side, unless you think Tanner Houck has a shot at making the rotation to start the year. I tend to think that’s a long shot and they’ll want to get him starting for at least a bit in Triple-A before making that call. He did appear in this game, though, and looked impressive. The righty tossed three scoreless innings of his own. He did allow a double, a single and a walk, but also struck out two Braves.
The bullpen battleground was empty for this one, but we did see one contender for the utility man roles available. Marco Hernández got the start at second base and went 0-2 with a strikeout. Behind the plate, Jonathan Lucroy came in for one at bat later in the game and flew out. I still think Kevin Plawecki has the edge, and nothing I’ve seen from Lucroy to this point has changed my mind.
- Mitch Moreland left this game before getting an at bat, playing just a half inning in the field before getting pulled with tightness in his hamstring. It doesn’t seem to be a major concern at this point, but it’s something to keep an eye on at least.
- Michael Chavis also left this game early after getting only one at bat, which raised some eyebrows including the ones attached to yours truly’s face. This was not injury related, though. Chavis is traveling tomorrow and was one scheduled for the one at bat.
- Rafael Devers is so good. In his first at bat he got a changeup that was down below the zone and over the outer part of the plate. He went down and got it, crushing it out to center field for his first homer of 2020. It was cool.
- Brandon Workman got his first appearance of the spring and looked outstanding. We know how important his curveball is, and it looked very sharp in this one. The righty tossed a perfect inning with two strikeouts.
- Marcus Walden also made his first appearance of the spring, but it wasn’t quite as strong. He did get a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, to be fair, but then in the ninth he gave up two runs on two walks, two hit batters and a single. He couldn’t make it out of the inning. Minor leaguer Enmanuel De Jesus finished off the inning for him, closing out the two-run game with the bases loaded.
- Other batters getting hits in this one that haven’t been mentioned were: Nick Longhi, who had a double, Johan Mieses, Rusney Castillo, Jeter Downs and Josh Ockimey.
The Red Sox hit the road tomorrow for a 1:05 PM ET matchup against the Tigers in Lakeland. That one will not be on TV, unfortunately, but there is a radio broadcast on 850 AM WEEI.