Based on Spring Training production, I think Tanner Houck would have been the starter I’d been least excited to see in this opening series vs, the Orioles. In a year where he needs to prove why he deserves a spot in the rotation, getting off to the right start would be crucial and Houck’s Spring Training...left things to be desired. 1-3 with a 9.74 ERA in six starts, including nine homers given up, you’d be granted a pass in thinking the O’s offense would light him up just like they had to Kluber and Sale the two previous games. Despite giving up two homers, Houck actually proved to be the most stable of the three starters in this series.
A decent five-inning outing, with five Ks, one walk, and five hits is honestly all the Red Sox needed. Striking out Adley Rutschman, who’s been on fire to start the season, two times must be quite the confidence boost.
Make that 3 scoreless innings from Tanner Houck.— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) April 2, 2023
Strikes out Adley Rutschman for the second time. pic.twitter.com/olHF0exWcu
To have your slider look like an absolute frisbee and make a hitter like Gunnar Henderson look silly to whiff as well? That’s just icing on the cake.
Tanner Houck through 2 scoreless innings.— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) April 2, 2023
Worked around a single and walk.
This pitched ended up behind Gunnar Hunderson. Filth. pic.twitter.com/iqlw0JlMy8
Yes, giving up two dingers isn’t inspiring, but he got touched up mainly in his final inning of work. To not blow up early on like both Kluber and Sale in this series is exactly what the rotation needed to start to piece things together
The offense clearly has the confidence to carry the rest.
Another homer by Kiké Hernandez is a big boost for the bottom of the lineup.
Kiké off the Coke Bottles pic.twitter.com/0gKMGJzS0r— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) April 2, 2023
Adam Duvall continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-5 with another extra-base hit. After his insane theatrics yesterday, he’s quickly becoming a fan favorite and a powerful addition to the middle of the lineup.
Alex Verdugo put up two more RBI today as well, to start a year we’ve hoped become pivotal to his breakout.
Even more importantly? The game was 2:44! After the outstanding offenses (or pitiful pitching) (or both) contributed to games above the three-hour mark in each of the first two bouts of the series, it’s refreshing to see the pitch clock make its first impact at Fenway Park. I’ll give a lot of credit on this to the bullpen, holding the O’s to just give hits and two runs in the last four innings, only two knocks in the last two thanks to Chris Martin and Kaleb Ort. Look at us, praising Kaleb Ort for doing something productive for this squad.
In the end, it has to be a massive confidence boost for the entire squad to win the first series of the season after the doldrums amongst both Red Sox Nation and the locker room after Opening Day.
Justin Turner (.157 WPA, 1-for-4, 1 BB, 1 run scored)
Does the box not look the most impressive? Sure. But he’s proving to be the consummate professional at the plate. One of his outs was as sharp a lineout as you can get. He’s not striking out (which is beyond important to this lineup). Consistency and even more productivity will come but for him to lead the team in WPA with that box shows how strong he is in the box right now even now.
Masataka Yoshida (.143 WPA, 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored, 1 BB)
Now, this is exactly the Yoshida the Sox were looking for. An RBI groundout in the first (which maybe should have yielded more Boston runs), an RBI single in the fifth, and coming home to score in the 5th, 7th, and 8th. Whether he stays in the cleanup spot remains to be seen, but it’s clear from today’s start he’s getting more comfortable and even though he’s not showing his power from the WBC just yet, he’s a meaningful addition to the lineup.
Adam Duvall (.093 WPA, 3-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored)
Can this be called the Adam Duvall series? Despite not showing up much on Opening Day, he’s clearly woken up. No dingers today, but more offense coming from the five slot in the lineup. So far, so good!
Richard Bleier (-.104 WPA, 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 K)
Some growing pains for Bleir in his season debut, we’ll give him more time before making a summary judgement on his usage.
Christian Arroyo (-0.073 WPA, 0-for-2, 1 K)
Hopefully, his bat wakes up soon, but it’s not the end of the world for now. He knows he’ll need to be better going forward because in a 162 game season, you have to count on everyone.
Tanner Houck (-0.062 WPA, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 HR, 5 K)
I talked a lot about him above, so don’t believe all the metrics that put him in the three duds. Giving up two homers in the fifth is probably what lands him in here, he looked much better than that sample provided.
Play of the Game
Technically, the top three belong to the Orioles, as Adam Frazier’s homer, Cedric Mulins’ homer, and RBI single lead the list. But as far as the Red Sox go, the biggest moment as far as WPA is concerned was Masataka Yoshida’s RBI bloop single in the bottom of the fifth inning (.107 WPA)!
MASATAKA YOSHIDA PUTS THE RED SOX AHEAD WITH A BLOOP RBI SINGLE!— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) April 2, 2023
Now up to 2 RBI on the day.
This offense punches right back.pic.twitter.com/5qmFLsvZwX
Who was the Red Sox’ Player of the Game vs the Orioles on April 2nd?
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