The Red Sox got their 2021 spring schedule underway on Sunday, kicking things off against their crosstown rival Twins. The two sides played seven innings in this one, and it was the Twins taking home the victory. The Red Sox dropped the opener 7-6, but, ya know, we don’t really care about spring training results in terms of wins and losses all that much. Here are a few things we did care about.
Power on Display
There has been a lot of talk about the Red Sox lineup that revolves around the group’s versatility, and for good reason. That is an intriguing characteristic that has been infused into the position player group this winter. Aside from that, there’s also a lot of power potential in the bottom portion of the lineup, and we saw some of that on display on Sunday. Boston hit three home runs in the loss, with all three coming from young players who hope to contribute this summer.
The first and probably most impressive (hard to say that with too much confidence given that there was no TV broadcast, but based on the radio calls this is how I see it) came off the bat of Bobby Dalbec. The Red Sox rookie, who figures to get the bulk of the time at first base this season, got his 2021 off to the best start possible. In his first at bat of the afternoon, the slugger went the other way with a solo shot to put the first run of the day on the board for the Red Sox. According to the broadcast, the wind was blowing in from that direction and had knocked down a would-be homer out there in the previous half-inning, making the homer all that much more impressive. Dalbec struck out in his other at bat.
The other two homers came from players who will likely start the season in Triple-A with hopes of getting up later in the year. One was from Michael Chavis, who is coming off a brutal 2020 and now has to work his way back up to the bigs. Contact is his big issue, which we saw in his first at bat in which he struck out after being peppered with fastballs. The second time around, though, he launched a solo shot.
A couple batters later, Jeter Downs, who entered the game at second base as a sub for Christian Arroyo, hit a homer of his own. This one was a two-run shot. Downs continued a strong day at the plate, bringing home what was at the time the go-ahead run with an RBI base hit back up through the middle.
Some good, some bad with Eovaldi
Getting the start for the Red Sox here in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who was slated to go two full innings but only made it one out into the second before being pulled with nearly 50 pitches. It wasn’t a perfect outing by any stretch, as he struggled with some command issues. In all, he tossed just the inning and a third, allowing a pair of runs on two hits, a walk and two strikeouts.
On the positive side of things, it looked like his fastball was just fine. The park gun had it coming in consistently in the 97-99 range, which is pretty wild for this point on the calendar. It should be pointed out, though, that these spring guns often run hot. Even if he was a couple ticks below that, it appears all was well with his velocity. The bigger issue was apparently with the secondaries. After the game he alluded to the fact that he may have been a bit too amped up finally pitching in front of fans again, and that had an effect on the offspeed pitches.
- The best pitcher on the day for the Red Sox was Eduard Bazardo. The relief prospect, who was added to the 40-man this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, turned heads at Instructs and put himself on the map to get his chance in the majors at some point this season. He tossed a perfect third this afternoon, needing only eight pitches to get through.
- Also pitching for Boston was: Caleb Simpson, who allowed three runs and failed to record an out in relief of Eovaldi before the inning was called with just one out on the board; Seth Blair, who tossed a scoreless inning with one walk; Stephen Gonsalvez, who also had a great outing, tossing a perfect inning with two strikeouts; Daniel Gossett, who was hurt by an error and allowed two runs (one earned) in his inning of work on a hit, a walk and a strikeout; and Kaleb Ort, a minor-league Rule 5 selection who tossed a perfect final frame.
- Speaking of the defense, there was a little rust out there from the infielders. Enrique Hernández, who got the start at shortstop, had a runner caught between second and third when the runner on third broke for the plate. Hernández made the right play to try to get him at the plate, but the throw was misfired. Later in the game, Jonathan Araúz, who entered as a sub at second base, had a throwing error that led to a run.
- Offensively, the Red Sox had 11 hits on the day. Other than the three homers, the only other extra-base hit came from Connor Wong, who came in as a sub at catcher. He smacked a double in his first at bat in the fourth. The other Red Sox batters with hits were: Hernández, Jarren Duran, Yair Muñoz (who had two), Jett Bandy, and Jonathan Araúz.
- This was a very spring training kind of game. I mentioned the inning that stopped early above and the fact that it was a seven-inning game. On top of that, the Twins still batted in the seventh despite having the lead as the home team.