The Twins stole the headlines for the baseball world this weekend by swooping in and stunning everyone with their acquisition of Carlos Correa on a three-year deal (with a couple of opt outs), but the Red Sox have beaten them in each of the two sides’ spring training meetings to start this year. Who’s to say, really, which one of those is more meaningful? The Red Sox grabbed their third win of the spring in as many games, with two of those coming against the Twins, with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
Nick Pivetta starts his 2022 off well
Amid the lineup questions that have been surrounding the Red Sox really all offseason and especially after trading away Hunter Renfroe, the rotation suddenly has even more questions since the recent revelation regarding Chris Sale’s rib injury. Suddenly, Boston is lacking impact talent behind Nathan Eovaldi, and needs someone to step up to be a true number two, at least temporarily. The trendy picks there are probably Garrett Whitlock and/or Tanner Houck, but Nick Pivetta showed flashes of that potential in an ultimately fine but unspectacular 2021. He seems in line to start the second game of the season, and could emerge as their de facto number two starter as well.
It’s at least a hell of a lot easier to talk yourself into that narrative now after a really impressive 2022 debut for Pivetta. Getting the start here on Saturday, he got through three innings just as Eovaldi did, but he did not trip up in the final one like the Red Sox ace. Instead, he set down all nine batters he faced on the day, striking out five of them. Three of those came in the second when he struck out the side. We should note, too, that while Minnesota didn’t have the aforementioned Correa in the lineup, they did have most of their other regulars, so Pivetta wasn’t facing minor-league depth here. It’s one spring start, of course, so we’re not getting carried away. But like we say with any positive from this time of year, it’s better than the alternative.
- That was it as far as major storylines from this game, but we should also mention Jonathan Araúz left the game after a collision at second base with Nick Gordon when the latter tried to stretch a hit into a double. Gordon also left. It’s not clear the status of Araúz, who appeared to hurt his arm on the play, but it’s worth noting that as the roster stands right now he is probably the top bench infielder. We’ll keep an eye out for updates here.
- The lone run in this game came on a home run off the bat of Ryan Fitzgerald, who got a ball right over the heart of the zone and blasted one out over all of the seats in right field for a solo homer. Fitzgerald is an interesting player in the Red Sox farm system, having gone undrafted before signing with Boston out of Indy Ball. He’s got a ceiling of a utility man, but has a decent floor in that room with strong defensive skills.
- We got a look at a couple of fringe candidates for the Opening Day bullpen as well in this one in Austin Davis and Phillips Valdez. Each went one scoreless inning, with the former allowing two singles with two strikeouts while the latter allowed a double and also struck out a pair. As mentioned, both players are likely fighting for their spot on the Opening Day roster, with Davis no longer having minor-league options while Valdez does. Barring injury, both may need rosters to be expanded at the start of the season to make the cut.
- Other players with hits today who have not been mentioned were: Jarren Duran, who had a single and a walk in three plate appearances; Franchy Cordero, who started at first base in this game and went 1-2 with a single; and Yolmer Sánchez, a minor-league signing from during the lockout who had a single and a walk in two plate appearances after getting the start at third base.
- Other pitchers in this game who have not been mentioned were: Zack Kelly, an intriguing reliever who could have been a Rule 5 candidate had that event not been cancelled and allowed a single and a walk with a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work in this game; Darin Gillies, a recent minor-league signing who retired all three batters he faced, striking out two of them; and Thomas Pannone, yet another recent minor-league signing who tossed two scoreless innings to close this one out, allowing two singles and a walk while striking out one.