The Red Sox had a pair of games Saturday afternoon in some split squad action, and they went 1-1 on the day. It’s better than their last split squad affair when they went 0-1-1. In the home game, they took care of the Blue Jays with some good pitching and a few big innings at the plate, taking that one with a 5-2 score. Meanwhile, on the road the Phillies jumped all over Boston pitching en route to a 10-2 loss for the good guys. Some notes!
The Spring of Nathan Eovaldi continues
Nathan Eovaldi is a very important player for a Red Sox team that just lost its best pitcher for an unclear amount of time and needs basically a best-case scenario from their rotation all year if they are going to make a push for October baseball. There’s not a ton we can glean from spring training performances, of course, but good games are better than bad ones, and Eovaldi has been very good. That continued on Saturday in Fort Myers against the Blue Jays. Eovaldi was a bit inefficient, particularly early on, but it’s worth noting it was sort of a tight zone and most of his misses weren’t way out of the zone. His velocity was still up and I thought the command of all of his pitches looked good for the most part. In all, he tossed three scoreless innings with a single and a walk while striking out four. Overall this spring he has yet to allow a run over eight innings with 12 strikeouts and just one walk.
Tanner Houck has a rough one
Tanner Houck got the short end of the stick among the two starters today, not only having to hit the road but also face a stronger group of hitters with the Phillies sending out basically all regulars from their talented roster. The one advantage for Houck was that Philly opted not to use a designated hitter, but that didn’t help much. The Red Sox righty did strike out three batters in the first inning and generally showed off big-time stuff, but other than those three Ks it was a rough afternoon. In between the strikeouts in that first Houck walked a batter, hit a batter and gave up a double, allowing one run to cross. It only got worse in the second when he recorded just one out along with two singles, two walks and a double before being taken out. Houck struggles with lefties, and there were plenty of those hitting for Philly this afternoon. He’s an enticing option at some point this year, but he’s probably best out of the bullpen and regardless of role he still has things to work on in Pawtucket.
Your daily battle update
Houck was the only real possible starter to take the mound in this game, but there were quite a few possible relievers. In the Toronto game, Phillips Valdez and Trevor Hildenberger both got some work. The former looked solid in two scoreless innings, allowing a couple of singles while striking out three. The latter struggled out of the gate in his inning of work, hitting the first batter he saw then giving up a double. He got three straight outs after that, but the first one did result in a run. Both of these guys are likely to start the year in Pawtucket, though Valdez could make his way to the Opening Day roster if he pitches well the next couple of weeks.
Over the Philly game, the highlight was Austin Brice. The former Marlin has been outstanding this spring and that continued here. This time around the righty tossed two perfect innings with four strikeouts. It’d be surprising if he’s not leading the way for one of the Opening Day spots at this point. Josh Osich has also put himself in a solid position at this point, though factors like handedness (Boston already has a couple lefties in their bullpen) as well as length (they may want a more conventional long arm in their last spot given the uncertainty in the rotation) could hold him back. Either way, he had a solid day today, tossing a scoreless inning with a walk and a strikeout.
In the utility man battle, Marco Hernández and Jonathan Araúz started at second base in the Philly and Toronto games, respectively. The latter replaced Tzu-Wei Lin as a starter after Lin was scratched. Hernández had a rough day going 0-2 with a strikeout while Araúz went 0-3 with a strikeout. Behind the plate, Kevin Plawecki started against the Phillies and went 1-3 with a strikeout. Jonathan Lucroy, meanwhile, came in off the bench and went 0-1 with a walk. I wrote about that situation this morning.
- Mitch Moreland made his return to the lineup after a short absence and had a nice day as the DH, going 1-2 with a double and a walk.
- Xander Bogaerts has been back for a few games now and is still looking for his first hit. He went 0-3 today. The good news is he put the ball in play every time so he at least had to move on that ankle a little bit. He said he feels good.
- Rafael Devers smoked the ball a couple times today in a two-hit afternoon.
- Kevin Pillar was in the leadoff spot in the game against the Phillies and had a nice day, going 2-3 with a double.
- Also getting hits today who have not been mentioned were: J.D. Martinez, Bobby Dalbec, Rusney Castillo, Jantzen Witte, and Ryder Jones, all of whom had doubles, as well as Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Marcus Wilson and Roldani Baldwin, who all had singles.
- Also pitching this afternoon who have not been mentioned were: Eduard Bazardo, Josh Taylor (three strikeouts in one scoreless inning of work), Robinson Leyer, Mike Kickham, Domingo Tapia, and Adam Lau.
The Red Sox are back to the standard one game on Sunday as they host their cross-town rival Twins at 1:05 PM ET. That one will on NESN as well as MLB Network.