The Red Sox picked up a win on Thursday against their cross-town rival Twins, squeaking by with a 5-4 score. The Red Sox got a multi-homer game from a new face as well as a phenomenal outing from their starter. Here are the notes from the afternoon:
Eduardo Rodriguez looks great
The Red Sox handed the ball to Eduardo Rodriguez for the start on Thursday afternoon against the Twins, and he once again looked fantastic. I was certainly among those who were skeptical he would be able to come in this spring and pick up like nothing had happened last winter. It seemed like a wild proposition after he wasn’t even able to walk on a treadmill until after the season in 2020, but the early returns sure look like a guy who is ready to go.
Rodriguez was phenomenal in this game, making just one mistake to Alex Kirilloff, who is one of the best prospects in the game. The Twins young lefty took Rodriguez deep, but other than that it was all roses for Boston’s southpaw. Rodriguez ended up going four strong innings, and generally made his way very quickly through the lineup. He allowed just the one run over those four frames, striking out six, giving up the home run and then three singles while not issuing a single walk. All of his pitches looked solid, but the changeup in particular stood out to me.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox season is largely going to come down to what they get from their rotation, and Rodriguez has a good chance to be the best part of that rotation. He’s likely going to get the nod for the Opening Day start, and right now he’s looking like he’s picking up where he left off over the second half in 2019 when he was as good as we’ve ever seen him. I’d still like to see what he looks like going into sixth and seventh innings, but the concerns I had a month ago are quickly dissipating. Right now the dude is just simply shoving.
Marwin Gonzalez homers from both sides of the plate
Rodriguez was the big story in this game, which he absolutely should be, but that does overshadow a big day at the plate for Marwin Gonzalez. The utility man was going up against the team he left to come to Boston, and he got the better of the matchup today. In his first at bat he was hitting from the left side and hit a no-doubt shot out to right field, giving Boston their only run of the day off Twins starter Matt Shoemaker. Then, a couple innings later, he moved over to the right side of the plate going up against a lefty in Devin Smeltzer. The result was the same, though, as he pulled this one out to left field, this time for a three-run shot. Those were the first two dingers of the spring for Gonzalez, and he also stole a base in this game.
Gonzalez figures to be a big piece of the Red Sox lineup this year, though his spot on the diamond will likely change on a consistent basis. I’d expect him to play something like 135 games assuming health, and early on I’d look for him to play a lot of left field with Franchy Cordero’s debut with the team likely being delayed. Wherever he plays, though, the Red Sox will be looking for flashes like they saw today and ideally an overall line that comes in a bit better than league-average.
- Matt Barnes got the call after Rodriguez and for a second straight outing he looked sharp. He did walk one in today’s outing, though he got squeezed on ball four to the point where even the batter wasn’t sure if it was called a strike or not. Barnes was perfect beyond the walk, though, striking out two in 1 1⁄3 innings. He’s now tossed 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings this spring with three strikeouts and a walk.
- Also pitching in this one who have not been mentioned were: Josh Taylor, who should have the inside track for an Opening Day spot in the bullpen and tossed 1 1⁄3 perfect innings; and Colten Brewer, who is very much fighting for an Opening Day spot and likely on the outside looking in, particularly after allowing three runs over 1 1⁄3 innings today on three hits, including a homer, though he did strike out three as well.
- Also getting hits in this game who have not been mentioned were: Enrique Hernández, who got the start in center field and continued to make his case to lead off with a 1-3 day with a run and an RBI; Christian Arroyo, who further solidified his spot on the Opening Day roster with a 2-3 day after getting the start at shortstop; and Marcus Wilson, who started in left field and has been sneaky good of late, going 1-2 with a walk and a run this afternoon.