Baseball is back! Sort of. The Red Sox have two exhibition games on their schedule before their 60-game regular season slate gets started. They played the first of those two games, both of which come against the Blue Jays, on Tuesday. It was a night filled with some ups and some downs and ended with an 8-6 Red Sox loss. As we usually do with spring training games we’ll handle this recap with just a few quick hits of what happened rather than run you through the result of the game and how we got to that point. Cool? Cool.
It sure was exhibition baseball
These exhibition games around the league really haven’t been even like spring training games. Instead, it’s been like minor-league spring training games where rules are more like suggestions. Case in point: The Red Sox only recorded two outs in the bottom of the first because Blue Jays starter Nate Pearson had reached his pitch limit for the inning. Still, baseball! In hindsight, this was costly for the final results. I demand satisfaction, MLB.
I did miss this
I’ve made my apprehensions about this season clear and there is still some uneasiness with me regarding the fact that this season is happening at all. That being said, I was damn happy to have this back. I missed just about every piece of this, not the least of which being that big ol’ smile on Rafael Devers’s face.
The broadcast was actually pretty good
One of the things I was most interested in was how the broadcast was going to work. Based on what I saw from ESPN’s KBO broadcasts, I wasn’t confident. I thought NESN did mostly a good job, though. The ads covering the empty seats behind home plate drove me nuts, but other than that it was good. The three-man booth remains great, and they avoided the awkwardness of the ESPN broadcast by being able to sit in the same studio.
A couple of dingers
As far as the game on the field went, the Red Sox offense made their presence felt early. The big bats got it done in the first, with J.D. Martinez drawing a walk, Rafael Devers smacking a single and then Bogaerts doing the same to give Boston a 1-0 lead. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate, and he had the first big fly at Fenway this year and gave Boston a 4-0 lead. A few innings later, Martinez had one of his patented opposite field dingers for his first 2020 homer.
Ryan Weber was....solid?
The Red Sox season is going to lie on the shoulders of the rotation being just kind of bad rather than “oh my Aceves it burns” bad. Ryan Weber is being miscast as a number three starter right now but, well, he was actually kind of okay in this one. He did give up a couple of home runs, but he was also cruising at times tonight. His fastball velocity is basically non-existent, but he did a good job at getting the edges of the plate and inducing grounders. It’s worth noting, though, that the strike zone appeared to be wide. He’s going to need generous strikes to get through this season, I think.
Back to Devers
I mentioned that it was nice to see Devers smile again, but it was also nice to see him do some other stuff too. Mainly, that was hit baseballs. It turns out that he still hits the ball super hard, which is nice to see. The third baseman had a couple of solid base hits before getting removed from the game. Defensively, he made a couple of really nice picks on tough short hops, but he also overran a pop up in foul ground on what should have been an out.
A mixed bag for the late-inning arms
The Red Sox got looks at both of their back-end arms in this game with Matt Barnes coming out for the seventh and Brandon Workman getting the eighth. Barnes only faced four batters and got a strikeout. Unfortunately, the one batter he didn’t get out took him deep. That would be Derek Fisher in a matchup NBA fans should get a kick out of. Workman, meanwhile, had been struggling in camp and needed a strong outing. That’s exactly what he got with a perfect inning that included a strikeout, a shallow fly out and a ground out.
Ryan Brasier has had better nights
The ninth inning belonged to Ryan Brasier with the Red Sox leading by one. He, uh, did not open up the chance for him to become the closer. Things started with a double off the Monster and then a single put runners on the corners. At that point, Brasier for some reason decided to try and pick off the runner at first. Tzu-Wei Lin, who is not a first baseman, was not paying attention, the throw went out of play and the Blue Jays tied the game. Immediately after that, Fisher hit another home run and Toronto had an 8-6 lead. Honestly, it was good practice reacting to a bullpen meltdown. I’m rusty too, ya know?