The Red Sox are not going to go winless in the year 2021. That is now guaranteed after picking up their first victory of the spring on Tuesday in a nine-inning affair (notable because they only need to play nine innings when the game is on ESPN, which this one was) with a 9-3 win over the Rays. They got some good pitching and four home runs early in the game, and that was that. Here are some notables from the day.
Yairo Muñoz off to a hot start
Look, it’s been three games of spring training baseball, which in itself doesn’t really matter. Any player we highlight we do at risk of overhyping. I recognize that, but it is what it is. Through these three games, Yairo Muñoz has been swinging a good bat. He had a double in his first appearance on Monday, and then followed that up with one better on Tuesday. It was Muñoz that got the party started here in the second inning of this one against the Rays, coming up against David Hess with Hunter Renfroe on first. Muñoz got ahold of one, hitting the first of four home runs for the Red Sox on the day and giving them the early 2-0 lead. He’d go 1-3 on the day with a strikeout and the home run.
In one of the most surprising moves of the offseason, Muñoz was designated for assignment, the surprise of which was only exceeded by the subsequent surprise that no team claimed him. No one is making the argument that he is a star, or even really an everyday player, but what we’ve seen from him in the majors makes it look like he can be a solid, near-average hitter who can bounce around the diamond. That’s not nothing. But as it stands, being off the 40-man roster puts him on the outside looking in for the active roster. These kinds of performances at the plate should help that case, not for Opening Day but for down the road.
So many homers
As mentioned, Muñoz’s homer was the first of four homers for the Red Sox in this one, who was showing off their power swings early and often in this game. His came in the second, but things really got going in the third. Enrique Hernández led off the inning and he had his first big swing in a Red Sox uniform, blasting a solo shot out to center field off Hess. Right after that, Jarren Duran welcomed us all to Duran SZN. The prospect smacked a solo shot to right field to make it back-to-back and make it a 4-0 game. A couple batters later, it was Rafael Devers’s turn. He had J.D. Martinez standing on first, and Devers launched his first shot of the spring, and just like that it was 6-0.
It’s always nice to see a home run, even in spring, because homers are cool. But it’s extra nice when expected contributors get it done. Hernández’s offense is the biggest question for the former Dodger as he comes over to a new team, and so it’s nice to see him getting going a bit early. He also drew a couple of walks in this game, which is arguably even nicer to see given the intimations he may see some time in the leadoff spot this year. Duran likely isn’t starting the year in the majors, but all he’s done since joining the organization is defy expectations and push up his timeline, so a few more of these swings could put him on the radar sooner than we think. He also drew a walk. And then finally with Devers, he has been a notoriously slow starter in his short career to this point, so it’d be nice to see him get in a rhythm in camp to carry over to April.
Our first look at Garrett Whitlock
One of the most interesting names to watch in camp this year is Garrett Whitlock, who needs to stay on the active roster to stay in the organization after being plucked from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft. They seem keen on making that happen, and if he keeps pitching like he did on Tuesday it won’t be a tough call. The righty looked great coming in as Boston’s second pitcher on the day, working two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and just a double allowed. The stuff looked crisp, with a fastball in the mid-90s and a couple nice secondaries.
Note: An earlier version of this post indicated Josh Winckowski pitched two innings rather than just the one, and A.J. Politi’s line has been added below.
- Before Whitlock came in, it was Martín Pérez getting the start. Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Richards were a bit shaky to start their springs, but Pérez bucked that trend. The lefty tossed two scoreless innings, giving up just a single and facing the minimum thanks to a double play in the first.
- Also pitching in this one were: Joel Payamps, who was recently re-claimed on waivers and is back on the roster bubble with Kevin Plawecki and Franchy Cordero needing to be reinstated at some point relatively soon and tossed a perfect inning with two strikeouts; Josh Winckowski, who came over from the Mets in the Andrew Benintendi trade and allowed a solo homer in one inning of work with one strikeout and one walk; A.J. Politi, a sleeper pitching prospect in the organization who struck out the side in his inning of work; and Ryan Weber, who figures to serve as emergency depth this year and allowed two runs on three hits and four strikeouts with no walks over two innings of work.
- J.D. Martinez is on the shortlist of most important Red Sox players this year. He had a nice day with a pair of singles and a strikeout in three plate appearances.
- Also getting hits in this game who has not been mentioned were: Austin Rei, a depth catcher who had a triple and a walk with a run scored; Hunter Renfroe, who singled and scored on the Muñoz homer; Michael Chavis, who had a single and scored a run; and Jonathan Araúz, who knocked in a pair on a double.