Red Sox Comeback Against Rays

In the 118 years of the program’s existence, the Boston Red Sox never started 8-1, until now. On Sunday, down 7-2 in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox scored six straight runs. This Red Sox comeback included five runs coming with two outs. Since falling to the Rays on Opening Day, the Red Sox have won eight straight and started this season better than any other team in franchise history.Red Sox Comeback

While the Sox have largely relied on their pitching through the first eight contests, it was the offense’s turn to carry the team in this one. The Rays got to starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez early on, as the lefty gave up five hits and three runs, all earned, in only 3.2 innings of work. Manager Alex Cora had to get creative with his bullpen in this one. He trotted out four different middle relievers before handing the ball to Carson Smith in the 8th and Craig Kimbrel in the 9th. In their lone innings of scoreless work, Smith (1-1) took home the win while Kimbrel secured his third save of the young season.

Red Sox Comeback Best Start in Program History

Down 7-2 in the eighth inning, Mitch Moreland got things started with his first double of the season, driving in Hanley Ramirez. He crossed the plate soon after on a double by Rafael Devers, his fourth of the season. RBI singles by Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts tied the game at 7.

Andrew Benintendi has struggled to begin the 2018 campaign, batting only .154 with 6 hits. Stepping up to the plate in a game knotted at 7, with two outs and the go-ahead run on second base, he had a chance to turn the page on his rocky start.

Turn the page he did, as Benintendi knocked his first double of the year to center field, scoring Mookie Betts and putting an exclamation point on Boston’s explosive eighth inning.

Even with all of the positive takeaway’s from Sunday’s game, the Red Sox experienced a scare in the seventh inning when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was helped off the field with a  left ankle injury. After a J.D. Martinez throw from the outfield bounced away, Bogaerts slid into the stairwell of the Rays’ dugout, unsuccessfully trying to corral the ball and save the run.

Bogaerts has been the undisputed sparkplug of the Red Sox offense so far this season. Through nine games, Xander Bogaerts has hit .368 with two home runs, including a grand slam in his 6-RBI performance on Saturday. He added one hit on Sunday before Brock Holt replaced him in the seventh inning.

Injuries Can’t Cloud Red Sox Comeback

Manager Alex Cora has said that Xander Bogaerts will be further evaluated on Monday. Not only has Bogaerts put this offense on his back, but Boston’s middle infield is already undermanned with Dustin Pedroia still recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Should Bogaerts miss any time, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt will likely man the middle infield for the time being. While solid defensive options, their bats are undoubtedly a downgrade from Boston’s hottest hitter, especially in an offense reliant on baserunners and contact. The status of Xander Bogaerts should be followed closely, as Boston’s middle infield can’t afford any more setbacks.

The streaking Red Sox, after nine games against the Rays and Marlins, will go for their ninth straight victory in their first true test on Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

 

Red Sox Rookies and Newcomers Carry The Team

The Red Sox rookies are posting some amazing debut numbers! Rookies Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and veteran newcomer Eduardo Nunez are tearing up the American League. The arrival of the first two concerned people who thought they came too soon. While many of the Red Sox are on the disabled list or slumping at the plate, these Red Sox rookies are on fire.

Andrew Benintendi came up late in the 2016 season straight from Portland. Hered sox rookies bypassed AAA and quickly proved that he belonged in the MLB. He hasn’t left since. Benintendi hit .295 in 34 games with the Red Sox in 2016, including a home run in the ALDS against the Indians. He earned a place in left field too with his above average defensive skills. He’s also on pace for a 20+ home run season and should received the Rookie of the Year Award.

Rafael Devers has only played fifteen games as of August 15rd but he’s hitting .339 in 64 plate appearances, nothing to shrug off. He also hit six home runs in those fifteen games. On August 13th, Devers hit a home run that came in at 102.8 miles per hour off Aroldis Chapman. According to Statcast, Devers hit the fastest pitch-turned-home run recorded since experts started tracking such statistics in 2008. That’s impressive for anyone. For a 20-year old rookie though? It’s nothing short of amazing.

Veterans Add Their Own Clout Alongside Red Sox Rookies

Eduardo Nunez, who came to the Red Sox from the San Francisco Giants, contributes years of skill to Red Sox offense. A 2016 All-Star, Nunez comes as a boon to the Red Sox. In 68 plate appearances as of August 14th, Nunez has a .382 average with four home runs.

The Red Sox won’t reach the playoffs because of regular players. Dustin Pedroia or Hanley Ramirez will play a role but not a big one. That accolade should go to the these newcomers and acquired veterans.

Red Sox Winning Streak Reflects New Focus

The Red Sox winning streak of six games is debunking the idea that the team is still struggling from David Ortiz’s absence. Not only has the Price/Eckersley hoopla finally died down, but their rookies are coming alive too. This Red Sox winning streak is a sign that Boston will surely contend for the World Series title come October.

Rookies Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

The Red Sox struggled after the All-Star break and briefly relinquished first place to theRed Sox winning Yankees. Then a sweep of the Indians and White Sox not only moved them back into first place, but it also gave its rookie stars the attention they deserve. Between August 1st and 8th, Andrew Benintendi hit .462 with a home run effectively breaking out of his slump. Raphael Devers is hitting .349 in 49 plate appearances with three home runs as of August 7th. That comes after hitting 20 home runs in 86 games in AA and AAA this year.

Veterans Also Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

MLB veterans like Chris Young and Eduardo Nunez also showed Red Sox Nation that they still have plenty of steam left to help win. Young slammed two home runs, including a tie-breaking shot in addition to driving in five ribbies against the White Sox on Sunday. Nunez, a late season addition to the Red Sox, has 4 home runs with a .400 batting average in the nine games he’s played with Boston so far. These two play with a zeal that clearly reflects their love for the game.

The Red Sox rookies and veterans are playing baseball like kids on sandlot do. They’re eager to contribute. They play to win. And they know they can reach the World Series. Some say the remaining problem lies with its other veterans. Hanley Ramirez hits for power but not average. Dustin Pedroia landed on the DL again, as did David Price. If these three can capture some of the same enthusiasm as their younger and older teammates, the Red Sox will be unstoppable come October.

Devers, Nunez Look to Solve Red Sox Depth Problem

There is no question that the offense is struggling, partly because of the Red Sox depthproblem. As of 7/25, Mitch Moreland was batting .067, Benintendi .145, Bogaerts .164, and Jackie Bradley.114.

Woof.

Red Sox Depth Problem

In the last 18, the Red Sox are 7-11, and averaging only 3.3 runs per game.

 

Woof again.

Despite this, they’re still in the thick of the AL East division race and only a half game out of first. And with the Yankees seemingly getting better with the additions of David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier, there was only one solution in their minds to stay ahead.

Calling up 20-year-old infield prospect Rafael Devers.

In 86 minor league games this season, Devers hit .311 with 20 home runs and 60 RBI. But his bat was never in question, for it was his defense that drew criticism from some advanced analysts and scouts. Though from what I’ve seen personally, watching Devers in the majority of home games in Portland, he has the physical and mental makeup to succeed in the big leagues. He also hit a bomb to center field for his first MLB hit.

So based on that, seems like he’d be the sole answer this season, right?

Wrong.

Tuesday, the Red Sox acquired Eduardo Nunez for minor league pitchers Gregory Santos and Shaun Anderson. Nunez was previously a member of the San Francisco Giants and Minnesota Twins. Based on his current .308 average, I’m not surprised San Fran’ was selling on him, but I would’ve thought the Red Sox would stand pat unless they were able to get a bona fide middle-of-the-order bat. No disrespect to Nunez, but he is basically here for depth.

A Red Sox Depth Problem

A lot of their infield depth is either injured or underperforming. Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge haven’t played at all since summer began. Tzu-Wei Lin was productive in late June and early July, but was sent back to the minors. Deven Marrero is a great defender, but can’t seem to hit consistently. He was sent down Friday. And if the top of the order is already struggling, the Sox cannot withstand that either.

To keep up with such deficiencies, Boston has added Devers and Nunez to the roster on this road trip. The latter of which will join the team Friday.

Whether this will solve the Red Sox on the field problems remains to be seen. But with the Yankees and Rays closely behind, something needed to be done.

And in fact, Dombrowski could still be trying to make a deal up until Monday’s deadline.

Rafael Devers Promoted to Red Sox

It has certainly been an odd, unsuccessful and grossly disappointing week plus for the Red Sox since the All-Star break. Now, Dave Dombrowski is getting bold, but not in the trade market. With top prospect Rafael Devers promoted to the big club, the Red Sox are looking for a spark plug.

On the field, Boston has yet to win a series since the Fourth of July. Off it, they lost out on Rafael Devers calleda deal that looked like it was already done. Sure, missing out on Todd Frazier is not monumental, but the organization is surely disappointed. They felt they could get a guy to plug in some of their holes at a very low price. That is no longer the case, so it is time to embrace what they already have.

Devers will be with the team Monday in Seattle and is already expected to make his first start Tuesday. This is a kid who, just last month, was playing in Portland. After a cup of coffee in Pawtucket, here he comes Red Sox fans. Much like Andrew Benintendi last year, he joins the team in Seattle to fill an immediate need. Benintendi skipped AAA and Devers might as well have, but can we expect similar results?

Devers didn’t become the top prospect in the Red Sox system by accident. This season in Portland, he mashed 18 homers and 56 RBI while hitting .300. In all, he racked up 40 extra base hits in 77 games before being promoted to AAA. In nine games with Pawtucket, he hit .324, including a night where he went 4-4 with a homer. Devers’ glove is still raw, but his offense has shown he is ready for the major leagues.

Rafael Devers Promoted With Big Expectations

Third base has been a glaring problem for the Red Sox all year. Starting with the dumpster fire that was Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox have been reeling at that position. With the rest of the lineup being just horrendous on a good day, that spot becomes even more important. Without the league’s best offense, third base turns from a want to a need. Now, if the Red Sox can’t upgrade there, a deep playoff run can be compromised.

While third base is a major issue right now, it doesn’t look like Dombrowski will try to solve it at the trade deadline. If he can add a bullpen arm, Boston should be in really good shape. Their offense won’t be number one, but it sure can’t get much worse. With their starting pitching, this is a team built for the postseason. If they can bolster their bullpen, they could be a tremblingly dangerous team come October.

So, the kid is gonna get a shot, whether he likes it or not. And yes, he will be expected to produce. He’s not going to make this team Murderer’s Row, but he should make them better. Since Devers didn’t even play AA till this year, this could be a lot of pressure. The 20 year-old will be thrusted in like Xander Bogaerts was in 2013. We all remember how Bogaerts thrived and what the Red Sox did that year, don’t we? So stay up late Tuesday night, you just might see the birth of a new era and a new Red Sox team.

Benintendi Needs To Learn To Hit Southpaws

Andrew Benintendi, the rookie sensation, is having an outstanding year. He’s on pace to collect 20 or more home runs this season. His defense is incredible. And Red Sox Nation loves him. But there’s one issue plaguing the young rookie. Benintendi needs to learn how to hit against southpaws.

Benintendi has received his fair share of playing time this year, but John Farrell is reluctantbenintendi needs to bat him again left-handed pitchers. He is hitting .235 against lefties and .281 against righties as of July 19th. That’s an almost 50 point difference that would concern any manager. But it’s something that Benintendi needs to learn how to do. The problem is he’s not getting many chances. He’s had 278 at-bats against righties versus 51 against lefties.

Benintendi Needs To Learn How To Become More Well-Rounded

While baseball looks to Aaron Judge as the potential Rookie of the Year, there’s reason to believe his numbers won’t last. Should-be Hall of Famer Pete Rose said on Foxsports.com that Judge won’t finish the season above .300. “You can’t hit .300 and strike out 200 times,” Rose said on July 18th. Judge is on pace to collect over 200 strikeouts for the season. Rose said it’s nearly impossible to hit above .300 with that many strikeouts.

In other words, Judge’s average is only going to go down. However, if Benintendi learns how to hit against left-handed pitchers, his can only go up. Both hitters have much to learn as rookies obviously, but we’re already seeing a dip in Judge’s numbers. That’s why Benintendi needs to learn how to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Not only would his stats improve, but he’d become an even more valuable player to the Red Sox.

I’ll end it with the argument that Benintendi could win the Rookie of the Year award if he can learn how to hit against southpaws. Most people are arguing that Judge will run away with the award. They’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean Judge shouldn’t worry about Benintendi.