The Red Sox had a hell of a St. Patrick’s Day, even if we didn’t get to see it. They got a dynamite performance from their starting pitcher, great stuff from the bullpen, and a pair of homers from two important pieces of the lineup, all leading to a 9-1 win over the Twins. Good stuff. Here are the notes from the day:
Ed, he’s back
The Red Sox have had a handful of players who have been off to scorching starts this spring (one of whom will be covered next), but it’s hard for anybody’s story thus far to beat that of Eduardo Rodriguez. Part of that is certainly circumstantial, what with him having to sit out of the 2020 season after contracting COVID and subsequently myocarditis. It was an open question on how much he’d able to contribute this season just from a physical perspective. It’s only March 17 and there is obviously a long way to go until a game that counts is even played, never mind the end of the season, but Rodriguez has been absolutely dynamite, and he did not slow down in the slightest on Wednesday.
Rodriguez continued to push his innings in this start, his third of the spring, making it through five this time around. It wasn’t that long ago that this was his typical regular season length. It wasn’t just the innings that were impressive today though, because Rodriguez had it all going on. He allowed just a single run over his five innings of work, with the Twins managing just a double and single without any walks. Rodriguez also struck out six in the process. For the entire spring, he is now up to 11 2⁄3 innings having allowed three runs (2.31 ERA), eight hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts.
There’s basically no question at this point that Rodriguez will be the team’s Opening Day starter when they take on the Orioles at Fenway on April 1, and it is very much deserved. It’s always wise not to read too much into spring numbers, but it’s getting very hard not to do so with him right now, particularly with the fact that he has not walked a single batter. Entering his final year before free agency, this is a big year for Rodriguez personally along with how important he is for the team, so seeing what we have seen so far is difficult not to carried away with, even when we know it’s unwise.
Another homer for Bobby D, and Devers too
As I said, there’s no one that can really overtake Rodriguez’s spring all things considered, but if there was anyone to come close it very well could be Bobby Dalbec. The rookie, who should get the bulk of the run at first base this year, has shown some of the swing and miss that could ultimately hold him back in the majors, but he’s also very much shown the power that could overcome the whiffs. It was the latter on display today. In the second inning he came up with two outs and the bases full, and he crushed one off of Twins starter Matt Shoemaker for his second grand slam of the spring, and fifth home run overall. That was his only at bat of the game, but it wasn’t injury-related, as Chaim Bloom explained on the radio broadcast.
Rafael Devers, meanwhile, will be playing across the diamond from Dalbec this season and did so today as well while also nearly matching him at the plate. I say nearly because there was one fewer baserunner aboard when he did his thing. But in the third inning, with Shoemaker still on the mound, Devers smashed a three-run home run to give the Red Sox a commanding 7-1 lead. That was homer number three for him this spring, and while he’s been a bit uneven (he has a .207 average on the spring), when he’s connected the contact has been loud. He also had a single, a walk and a second run scored in this game.
But as we know, it’s the defense that is the real concern here, and Devers did make another error today. The game wasn’t broadcast so I can’t speak to the nature of the mishap, but it’s certainly not what you want to see. Still, considering the day at the plate, it was a positive day for the young third baseman on the whole.
- Also getting hits in this game who have not been mentioned were: J.D. Martinez, who got the start at DH and went 1-3 with a single, a run, an RBI and a strikeout; Xander Bogaerts, who made his first start in the field at shortstop today and at the plate went 1-3 with a run scored and a strikeout; Christian Arroyo, who subbed in at short for Bogaerts later in the game and went 1-2 with a single; Hunter Renfroe, who started in right field and went 1-3 with a single and a strikeout; Michael Gettys, who was a late-game sub and had a single and scored a run in his only at bat; Marwin Gonzalez, who got the start in left field where he could see a lot of time until Franchy Cordero is ready and went 1-2 with a single, a walk and a run; Christian Vázquez, who got the start behind the plate and went 1-3 with a single and a run; and Josh Ockimey, who came in after Dalbec left the game and went 1-2 with a single, a walk, a run, an RBI, and a strikeout.
- Also pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Darwinzon Hernandez, who is looking to hopefully grow into a late-inning role this year and had a solid day here, tossing a scoreless inning with a walk and a strikeout; Austin Brice, who should start the year in the bullpen but could have a relatively short leash, and he tossed two scoreless innings in which he allowed just a single and a walk with a strikeout; and Kevin McCarthy, a minor-league signing who should serve as bullpen depth who struck out all three batters he faced to end the game.