If there’s one thing people are always saying about baseball, it’s that they love ties. Can’t get enough. So it was a special day on Sunday as the Red Sox and Twins finished an eight-inning game in a 5-5 tie. The Red Sox took a brief lead in the top half of the inning on a homer, but it was given right back. The game actually ended on a game-tying base hit on which the batter was thrown out at second trying to stretch it on the throw home. How can you not be romantic about baseball? Here are today’s notes:
A mixed bag for Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi got the start for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, making his third start of the spring. One of those, however, was in a simulated game so this is the first time we’ve been able to see him in action since the end of February. It was a mixed bag for the Red Sox righty, as he had a pair of great innings and a pair of not-so-great ones. The good news is the velocity was very much there, with multiple 100-plus velocity ratings on the afternoon. For whatever it may be worth, I’m always a bit skeptical about the veracity of some of these spring velocity readings, but we know Eovaldi can sling it. We also know it’s not just about throwing heat for him, and he needs the other stuff working as well. The other stuff, including the location of said heat, was hit or miss for most of his four innings.
The good half here was the first half, as he made quick work of the first six batters he faced. He didn’t get any strikeouts in those two frames, but it was six up and six down with an even split between ground outs and fly outs. He started to get hit around a bit in the third, though, with Byron Buxton leading off that inning with a solo homer way out to left field. Eovaldi also gave up a double in that inning, though he struck out two in the process. In the fourth, he got into more trouble, this time giving up two doubles and three singles in a tough three-run inning. All in all, it was four runs coming across against Eovaldi over four innings of work on seven hits and no walks with three strikeouts.
The biggest thing for Eovaldi this spring is, of course, that he stays healthy through the month. As far as building up his arm strength, well, even with the skepticism I mentioned above there’s really no concern on that front. Still, this is the kind of outing where Eovaldi generally gets in trouble. That he throws strikes at such a high rate is part of what makes him good when he is pitching well, but there’s a fine line to walk between throwing strikes and hitting the middle of the plate. He was doing a bit too much of the latter today, though this is the time to get that out of his system.
Christian Arroyo is not letting that roster spot go
Coming into the spring, it was pretty clear Christian Arroyo was going to get one of the bench spots to start the season. This was largely to do with his lack of minor-league options as well as his solid performance late last season. Despite that spot being nearly assured, some (including yours truly) were not really convinced he was actually good enough to merit that kind of consideration. He’s doing his best to prove them (me) wrong this spring.
Arroyo got the start at second base in this one, and he got ahold of one in the top half of the fifth. Facing Hansel Robles, Arroyo went down and got a pitch down in the zone on the outer half, smashing it out to straightaway center field for a solo shot. It was his second homer of the spring. He also had a single in this game, going 2-3 with a run and an RBI overall. Arroyo now boasts a 1.009 OPS this spring, and while the Red Sox aren’t really making decision based on spring stats he sure looks like a guy who deserves that Opening Day roster that he’s certainly going to get.
- The homer above was actually just one of three on the day for Boston (and it could have been one of four but Chad De La Guerra was robbed of one), but there’s no doubt which was biggest. That would be the one from Josh Ockimey, who only came into the game due to an injury to Jeter Downs which we’ll get to in a second. But Ockimey came up in the eighth and final inning of this game with Boston trailing by two and with two men on. The lefty got one in his wheelhouse down and in and turned on it, sending it a long way out to right field for a three-run shot to put Boston in front. It was his first homer of the spring. Ockimey is an interesting player with obvious limitations — he’s a fringy first-base only defensive profile and struggles against lefties — but he showed off the power here that could one day make him an intriguing left-handed bench bat.
- Arroyo’s home run was actually the second half of a back-to-back. The first one came off the bat of Rafael Devers, who has been a bit up and down this spring. Like Arroyo, Devers also went out to center field for his solo blast, which also like Arroyo was his second of the spring.
- Generally speaking, it was a quiet day for the Red Sox offense, with only three hits entering the eighth and final inning. They were going up against Kenta Maeda for the first four frames, and they saw why he is one of the more underrated pitchers in the American League.
- It should also be mentioned that Triston Casas made his spring debut in this one. He grounded out in both of his plate appearance. He also got some time at third base, though that was largely due to circumstances as he started the inning at first then moved across after the Downs injury that we’ll get to, well, right now.
- Jeter Downs came in late in this game as well, taking over at shortstop. He would not be able to finish, though, as he attempted to make a play up the middle and came up hurting a bit. As of this writing it’s not entirely clear what the issue was, but he was grabbing at his left side. It didn’t look too serious as he was walking off, but we’ll keep an eye out for word on the issue.
- Also getting a hit in this game who has not been mentioned was Jarren Duran, who was originally pencilled in to start at DH before Xander Bogaerts (0-1 with a walk) took his spot. Duran came in as a sub later in the game and had a bloop single in the eighth.
- Also pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Adam Ottavino, who is vying for the closer gig with Matt Barnes and gave up a double, two singles and a walk with no strikeouts over 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings; Garrett Whitlock, who continues to look like a very nice Rule 5 selection as he tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two singles and striking out two; and Daniel Gossett, who will likely be part of Worcester’s rotation and struggled here, giving up a couple of hits including a single that tied the game to end it.