The Red Sox dropped their game on Thursday against the Twins, falling behind early and not quite being able to get back in it. They had some bad defense early in the game, and Martín Pérez got hit around on top of the bad luck. They did get a few homers to get back in the game, but it was too much too late. Here are the notes from the day:
A snowballing kind of outing for Martín Pérez
The Red Sox are going through their rotation for their last full starts of the spring before they finish up with some shorter tune-up starts next week to get ready for the real games. This time around it was Martín Pérez’s turn, looking to come back from somewhat of a shaky performance his last time out. Unfortunately, he didn’t look a whole lot better this time out.
To the lefty’s credit, some of the performance on Thursday was not his fault, particularly in the first. He was a little frustrated with some borderline calls, and he also was not helped luck. In that first inning he had a pop up Bobby Dalbec appeared to lose it in the sun that was then dropped by Michael Chavis, and he also gave up a single on a swinging bunt. Later in the game an inning could have ended on a ball to the left side but Rafael Devers literally booted it. Pérez gave up a homer in the next at bat. (For what it’s worth I didn’t think the grounder to Devers, one which he had to slide for the ball, would have been an out even if he didn’t kick it.)
So, there were certainly some things that were out of the control of Pérez that led to the outing going a bit sideways. At the same time, he also made some bad pitches and gave up some hard contact. In all, he gave up five runs over four innings of work on five hits, one of which was a mammoth homer to Josh Donaldson, who also had a double, as did Byron Buxton. So that’s three extra-base hits, none of which were of the cheap variety. If you’re looking for a more positive spin, though, none of the runs were earned, and he didn’t walk anybody while striking out four.
In all, Pérez has now had two very good outings this spring followed by two shaky ones. If we’re being honest, that sounds about right and it comes out to a pitcher who will have his moments and probably end up somewhere a bit below league-average. That certainly doesn’t sound exciting — and it’s not, really — but this is a back-end starter. The Red Sox will take average from Pérez and run with it, and there’s been enough good mixed in, even during these not-so-good outings, that I can see average as a realistic, and even expected, outcome.
Three homers, including another one from Bobby Dalbec
The Red Sox didn’t get a whole lot of offense going against Randy Dobnak and the rest of the Twins pitching staff, but they did get a couple of very good swings. The first came from Bobby Dalbec, who has been showing off his power all spring and is in fact leading the majors in homers. His power is just stupid. This time around, he got a hanging breaking ball and hit it way out to center field for a solo homer, his seventh of the spring. This was the majestic kind of home run, and it appeared to be hit as high as it was deep. There’s no doubt he’ll get most of the run at first base once the season gets going.
Later in the game, Boston got another big swing from a guy maybe we aren’t really expecting as much power from. That would be Jonathan Araúz, who hit an absolute no-doubt shot out to right field for what I believe is the longest I’ve ever seen him hit a baseball. He is not exactly known for his power — this was his second homer of the spring — but he’s been pretty good in this preseason action, now with a .971 OPS. After spending all of last year in the majors, he should be able to spend most, if not all, of this coming year in Worcester to get the consistent at bats he missed out on last year on the bench.
The third homer came from César Puello, who decided to take on the challenge of ever-increasing home run distances and add his to the top of the day’s list. He had a runner on first in front of him and then absolutely obliterated a ball way out to left field for a two-run shot. He also got bonus points for the admiration pose, which he earned because he destroyed that pitch. That was his first homer of the spring. He also made a diving catch in left field and had an outfield assist. He will serve as outfield depth in Worcester this season.
- Christian Vázquez was a late scratch from this game after being hit in the face with a ball during pregame drills, which broke his sunglasses, leading to bruising and lacerations on his face. As of this writing we don’t know how bad it is, but Pérez didn’t seem too concerned.
- Coming in out of the bullpen a bit later in this game was Matt Barnes, who has looked very good this spring as he tries to lock down the closer role to start the season. He took a step in the wrong direction on that quest here. It was the shakiest he’s looked all spring as his stuff didn’t seem crisp and the stuff just wasn’t there. He ended up walking one and giving up a base hit — as well as a deep fly out — before managing to get out of the inning on a double play. Overall he’s still been mostly good this spring, pitching 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings on two hits, eight strikeouts and three walks. I think I still lean towards him having the edge of Adam Ottavino for the closer role, but it also doesn’t seem all that far off from a coin flip.
- Also getting a hit in this game who have not been mentioned were: Jarren Duran, who started the game in center and had a couple good swings, going 1-3 with a single; Christian Arroyo, who started the game at shortstop and went 1-3 with a single; and Michael Gettys, who came in as a late-game sub and had a base hit in his only plate appearance.
- Also pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Kaleb Ort, a minor-league Rule 5 pick who has impressed this spring and tossed a scoreless inning here on a single and two striking out two; Darwinzon Hernandez, who retired two batters while allowing a single and an earned run; Josh Taylor, who came in after Hernandez and pitched for the second straight day, allowing a single and a double while recording one out; Kevin McCarthy, whose roster situation we discussed earlier this week, and he tossed a scoreless inning on two singles; and Raynel Espinal, who will serve as minor-league bullpen depth and he allowed a run on a single and a walk in his one inning of work.