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Red Sox 2, Braves 8: Shaky control for Martín Pérez

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And Phillips Valdez followed suit to bookend the day on the mound.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox got some shaky pitching on Saturday, and it was enough to lose pretty handily at the hands of the Braves. Atlanta took the game by a score of 8-2. Here are the notes from the day:

A hiccup of a day for Martín Pérez

The Red Sox starting pitching has, for the most part, looked solid this spring. A part of that has been Martín Pérez, who projects to start the year as Boston’s number four starter and has gotten off to a good start in 2021. Over his first two outings, the southpaw had tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just one walk and three hits while striking out five. No one is expecting front-of-the-rotation type production from Pérez this year, of course, but it was nice to see him hitting a stride to start the year.

That stride was interrupted on Saturday with his worst outing of camp. Pérez really struggling to command the ball, giving up both hard contact and free passes, particularly later in the outing. His first inning of work wasn’t too bad, as he issued a two-out walk but nothing else. The second was a little bit shakier, but still largely fine. Pérez allowed two singles in that inning — one coming on a bunt — as well as issuing another walk, but thanks in part to a big double play he avoided allowing any runs there. The third was another scoreless frame, though he gave up a double here.

Pérez would go five innings on the day, and it was really the last two where things started to catch up with him. In the fourth he allowed the first two to reach on a single and a walk, and then Alex Jackson had the big swing of the day. It was hard to tell whether it was a cutter or a changeup, but whatever it was it was left right over the heart of the plate, and Jackson hit it a mile out to left for a three-run shot. Pérez then gave up two more runs in the fifth, walking two and allowing another single before finishing things out.

On the day, Pérez ended up allowing the five runs over his five innings of work. The control issues were most eye-opening, with five walks scattered throughout the day. He also allowed six hits (a homer, a double and four singles) while striking out three. In all, the positives have still outweighed the negatives this spring, and he is the type of pitcher who will have these outings from time to time. The Red Sox are looking for something hovering around league-average in the back of the bullpen, and this outing doesn’t really change that projection

Other Notes

  • It as a relatively low-key day for the Red Sox overall, but they did get Franchy Cordero in the lineup for the first time. He’s not yet in the field — that could happen early next week — but he did get the start at DH here. He went 1-2 on the day, singling in his first at bat before grounding out to first in his second. It was nice to see him on the field, but it’s still looking like he’ll probably miss a short amount of time to start the season.
  • There was some talk today about the lineup construction and Bobby Dalbec’s name came up as someone who would likely hit near the bottom. It’s not an unreasonable plan given the strikeout issues and his lack of track record, but he’s showing this spring he may force his way up before too long. He had another multi-hit game in this one, going 2-4 with a double and a run as well as some loud outs.
  • Pérez was a little bit shaky, but it was a good day for the two relievers after him, both of whom will start the year in the bigs. First up was Matt Andriese, who will pitch in a swingman role this year. He only went one inning in this one, but he tossed a scoreless frame on a walk and a strikeout. Overall this spring Andriese has allowed three runs over 10 innings of work on five hits, three walks and six strikeouts.
  • Meanwhile, Darwinzon Hernandez got the call after Andriese. The left has all the talent in the world and in a perfect world he will be a major part of the late-inning plans by midseason, if not sooner. He still has to show he can command the ball well enough to get that role, though. He was fine here on Saturday, walking one in a scoreless inning. He now has three scoreless frames this spring on two strikeouts and five walks.
  • Phillips Valdez was the fourth Red Sox pitcher to enter the game, but he struggled a bit. It started with control issues as he walked the first batter of the inning before hitting the next, and then an error by Dalbec at third base brought home a run. Another run then scored on a wild pitch, and then a third on a base hit before Valdez finally got three straight outs to end the inning. Valdez has been a bit all over the place this spring, with three good outings and two really bad ones. He has an option remaining and Kevin McCarthy can opt out after the year, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the latter makes the Opening Day roster over the former.
  • Also getting hits in this game who have not been mentioned were: Gilberto Jimenez, who continues to make a strong impression this spring before likely heading to Greenville this year, and he had an RBI double in his only at bat of the game; Kiké Hernández, who continues to take hold of the leadoff job and he went 1-2 with a single, a walk and a run while starting in center field; Alex Verdugo, who started in right field and went 1-1 with a single and a walk; and Rafael Devers, who started at third and went 1-3 with a single, an RBI and a strikeout.