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Red Sox 5, Orioles 8: Jake Diekman’s not-so-great debut

And a loss under the lights.

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Minnesota Twins Vs. Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park Fenway South Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Red Sox made their first appearance under the lights on Thursday, and it didn’t go so well. Just like their loss on Wednesday, they had a couple of rough pitching performances that ended up leading to a loss, one of which was a player’s debut for the team. Here are the notes from the day.

Jake Diekman struggled in his debut

Time to panic about the team’s biggest addition to the bullpen. Obviously we’re joking about that because it is spring training, and early at that, but Jake Diekman did make his Red Sox debut on Thursday and it could have gone better. The lefty did get a quick first out, but then gave up a one-out base hit to Trey Mancini, and issued a walk to Anthony Santander. That brought up Ryan McKenna, who jumped all over a pitch down and in and put it over the fence in right field for a three-run shot. To his credit, Diekman got the next two to finish out the inning, but the middle of that inning got away from him.

I think it goes without saying, but just in case it doesn’t we are not worrying about a pitcher after one (1) pretty bad outing in spring training, his first appearance to boot. And pitching for a new team. There are some concerns I have about Diekman perhaps being the number two reliever in this bullpen depending on Garrett Whitlock’s role, mostly with his proclivity for walks, but one outing isn’t going to make me any more or less worried. Still, the alternative would have been better.

Nick Pivetta is up and down

The importance of Pivetta in the Red Sox rotation increased by a significant amount when Chris Sale’s injury came to light. And after his first appearance of the spring, it looked like he may be pitching up to the moment. However, just like we can’t panic over a single spring outing, we can’t get too high either. Thursday was more Pivetta-y, though to be fair that’s not an entirely bad thing! There was some good here in this outing, with the righty striking out six over 3 23 innings. On the other hand, he also gave up a couple of home runs and four runs total (only two earned) while walking two as well.

Pivetta is a wildcard from start to start, but if last season is any indication he’s a roughly average pitcher overall. That feels about right, and he showed all sides in this outing on Thursday. It’s not ideal for your potentially de facto number two starter, but there will be moments you feel good about it.

Three homers for the offense

The legend of Ryan Fitzgerald continues. Granted, he did make the error that resulted in the unearned runs for Pivetta, but getting the start at second base in this game he also hit a home run. Amazingly, it’s his fourth of the spring. This one came against Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann — a pitcher with over 70 career innings in the majors — on a fastball down in the zone and over the plate. Fitzgerald is already the fan favorite of this spring, and the reactionary calls for him to be on the roster are going to feel less reactionary and more understandable by the day. (Not that I think he should make the Opening Day roster.)

The other home run on the day belonged to Enrique Hernández, the only projected starter to make the trip to Sarasota for this game and one of two or three (depending how you count Travis Shaw) who are projected to make the Opening Day roster. He made the trip count. Leading off the game, he punished a hanging breaking ball from Zimmermann for a solo shot. It was his first homer of the spring.

The third homer of the day came from Nicholas Northcut, a former 11th round pick who had some high potential coming out of high school. After a couple of disappointing years to start his career, he had a somewhat quietly solid 2021 in Salem, hitting .261/.352/.513. Facing old friend Travis Lakins in this game, he blasted two-out solo home run on the big-league stage.

Other Notes

  • Matt Strahm also made his debut in this game, and his day went a little better than Diekman. Instead, this southpaw ended up with a scoreless inning, issuing a walk but striking out two. After him we also saw Hirokazu Sawamura, who also figures to be an important part of the bullpen. The righty managed to get through a scoreless inning of his own, working around a single and a walk.
  • Both Nick Yorke and Marcelo Mayer found their way into this game with some minor leaguers getting a chance on the road. Both players got a pair of plate appearances, with Mayer drawing a walk and striking out while Yorke was 0-2 with one strikeout.
  • Other players getting hits in this game who have not been mentioned were: Roberto Ramos, a minor-league signing from the lockout period who started at first base and went 1-3 with a double and two strikeouts; Kevin Plawecki, who traveled for this trip to start at catcher and went 1-2 with a single and a walk; Alex Binelas, who came over in the Hunter Renfroe trade and started this game at third base and went 1-2 with a single and a strikeout; and Matthew Lugo, who came in off the bench to play third base and went singled in his lone at bat.
  • Other players pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Joan Martinez, who retired the lone batter he faced finishing out Pivetta’s fourth inning; and Kutter Crawford, who is on the 40-man and should serve as long relief and spot starter depth, and who allowed threw the last inning and allowed a run on a single and a double while striking out one.

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