A Home Run Derby in Baltimore

After winning the last two games at home, the Red Sox went to Baltimore looking to add onto the win streak. That’s just what they did. The line up in the first game went to work early, and dished out a 13-2 victory. Brock Holt’s two run home run sparked a mini home run derby for Boston. In total, the Red Sox hit six home runs.

Between strong pitching, and heavy hitting, Boston swept Baltimore at Camden Yards.home run derby The line up added onto the home run total, hitting a total of nine home runs. JD Martinez hit three home runs, and overtook the team lead with 16 altogether. With the sweep, the Red Sox have now won five games in a row! They now move onto Target Field and the Twins.

Game One’s Home Run Derby Leads Boston to Victory

After splitting the series against Texas at Fenway, the Red Sox looked to do some damage in Baltimore. After being down 1-0, Brock Holt responded with a two run home run in the second inning. This sparked a great rally by Boston bats. A total of six home runs, and a strong start by Eduardo Rodriguez led Boston to a wild win.

Christian Vazquez hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, while Martinez hit a two run home run shortly after. Jackie Bradley Jr. joined in on the fun in the fifth, with a two run home run. The AL Rookie of the Year hopeful Michael Chavis also hit a two run shot in the same inning. JD Martinez, being JD, hit another home run as well.

Eduardo Rodriguez, looking for his seventh win, went seven innings, allowing six hits and one earned run. He also struck out four. The bullpen did their part as well, with solid innings by Travis Lakins and Josh Smith.

A Pitcher’s Duel in Game Two

Chris Sale got the start for Boston as they were looking to continue their hot streak. After a silent five innings, Boston punched a hole in the runs column, scoring three in the sixth inning. Xander Bogaerts run scoring double put the Sox up 1-0. From there, Brock Holt scored Bogaerts with a single, and a costly error by Baltimore scored Holt. JD Martinez also contributed with his team leading 16th home run in the seventh inning to solidify the home run derby.

With Sale dominating on the mound, Boston’s lead was pretty safe. Sale pitched six innings, allowing two runs while striking out ten. Four more runs by Boston will allow them to win 7-2, and Sale to pick up win number three. Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman did great out of the bullpen. The three men pitched the remainder of the game, allowing two hits, and striking out five to seal the deal.

The Sunday Finale vs The Orioles

This win was a little tougher to get, as Boston edged out Baltimore 8-6. The game did go into the tenth, but late inning home runs by Marco Hernandez and Rafael Devers led Boston to victory.

Brian Johnson got the start for the Red Sox on Sunday. He pitched three innings, allowing one run and striking out two. This was his first start off the injured list, so Cora and company didn’t want to push him too much. The bullpen took over from there, with Brandon Workman getting the win, his fifth of the season.

Probably the most impressive part of the game was the five run tenth inning. After Hernandez tied it in the ninth with his first home run of the season, Boston scored five in the tenth. This was led by Devers’ mammoth home run-a 458 foot shot-to lead it off.

Boston Looks to Continue the Streak in Minnesota

Rick Porcello has the ball in game one against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Twins, who are 47-23, took two out of three against the Kansas City Royals at home. Also this past weekend the Twins retired long time catcher Joe Mauer’s number 7. Mauer, who retired after last season, was a home grown Twin. He spent fifteen seasons in the Twin City, winning the AL MVP Award in 2009. Near the end of his career, Mauer played first base and DH’ed.

No Late Inning Heroics As Sox Fall To The Rangers

A day after news of David Ortiz’s shooting came out, the Red Sox hosted the Texas Rangers. Prior to the game, the Red Sox honored Ortiz with a moment of silence. Both fans and players reflected on Ortiz, and wished him a speedy recovery. Fans were looking for a win for Papi. However, the game didn’t end with any late inning heroics. The Red Sox didn’t show their inner “Big Papi” as they lost in extra innings to the Rangers.

Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Brock Holt’s single scored Michael Chavis to scorelate inning heroics the tying run. The Red Sox had multiple chances to win the game, however, nothing came of those chances. With Ryan Braiser on the mound the hopes of a win faded as the Rangers won 4-3 in eleven innings.

The Red Sox Respond Following Ortiz News

Sunday night sent shockwaves through Red Sox Nation. David Ortiz was shot in his hometown in the Dominican Republic. Ortiz, who is in stable condition following the shooting, was flown to Boston. Red Sox President Sam Kennedy told reporters that the Red Sox are bringing Ortiz to Boston for further medical treatment.

Players, coaches, and former players were all in shock. Alex Cora and Jason Varitek spoke to the press about Ortiz. Both of them spoke highly of Ortiz, and wished him a full recovery. By watching them speak, one can see their concern for Ortiz. The reaction and response from around MLB shows that this is more than just a game. Baseball truly is a community.

Holt’s Late Inning Heroics Couldn’t Pull The Sox To Victory

This game saw the match up of Chris Sale and Mike Minor. Sale, coming off a great start in his last outing in Kansas City, was looking for win number three. Minor, who has been known as the Red Sox’s punching bag, was looking for win number six.

Right off the bat, things were looking up for Boston. With one out in the first, Andrew Benintendi hit a two run home run. This allowed Sale to have a comfortable lead right away. Sale went seven innings, allowing one run and striking out ten. The Sox lined up the win. Brandon Workman pitched a solid eighth inning. Matt Barnes, however, allowed two runs to score. This put the Rangers up 3-2.

In the bottom of the ninth, Shawn Kelley allowed Chavis to reach base by walking him. With two outs in the inning, Brock Holt’s late inning heroics scored Chavis with a single. Holt would be the final out of the inning after being tagged out at home.

Even with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth, the Red Sox batters couldn’t spark any late inning heroics. Benintendi stuck out, and Xander Bogaerts lined out to the center fielder. This brought the game to the eleventh, and brought Ryan Braiser into the game.

Braiser’s first batter, Danny Santana ripped a double to right field. Santana, who has been a thorn in the Red Sox’s side the whole game, would later score. Elvis Andrus singled later in the eleventh, scoring Santana. The bottom of the inning saw Chris Martin, the Rangers closer come in. Unfortunately, the Boston bats remained silent.

The Aftermath of the Game

As the game was coming to a close, media outlets reported that David Ortiz had landed at Logan Airport. Ortiz was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where his care will continue.

The Red Sox announced that the Game 2 starter will be Darwinzon Hernandez who will make his first major league start. The last time he played in the big leagues was against the Tigers back on April 23rd. Hernandez went 2.1 innings, allowing four hits and striking out four.

The Red Sox also announced that Wednesday’s game will be at 4pm so that fans can watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals that will be taking place at TD Garden. Boston fans are looking for a double win on Wednesday. Go Red Sox and Go Bruins!

Alex Cora: “I Will Not Be Going To The White House”

Over the weekend, Alex Cora informed the media that he will not be going to the White House to celebrate their 2018 World Series Championship. Cora, along with several other Red Sox players, will not be going, while others are. Over the past several months, it has been a topic of discussion as to who will be going, and who won’t.

Over the past year or so, many championship teams have opted to take the time to dowhite house other things in Washington DC. This usually includes a visit to the Walter Reed Hospital, or charity work, rather than meet President Trump. While I understand fully why Alex Cora, and other players don’t want to go, I believe that Cora should go.

The Red Sox In The White House

In 2005, 2008 and 2014, the Red Sox were honored at the White House. Alex Cora was a player on the 2007 World Series team who was honored in 2008 by President George W. Bush. President Bush was able to honor the Red Sox twice while in office. President Barack Obama did it once in 2014. For Red Sox fans, the most notable player to miss the 2005 and 2008 visit was Manny Ramirez.

This time, it is different. Alex Cora is citing the devastation that hit Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria as the main reason behind his decision. The devastation, and the response from the White House, was uncalled for. Following his hiring as manager, Cora and other members of the Red Sox went to Puerto Rico to assist those who were affected, something that President Trump hasn’t done himself.

A Platform To Help

During Spring Training, Cora was mum on whether or not to go to the White House. Many thought that he would join the team. That was until Sunday, when his decision came out.

Personally, if I was Alex Cora, I would love to have the opportunity to tell President Trump about what is going on over in Puerto Rico. The damage from the hurricane occurred about a year and a half ago. Still the country is not back to 100%.

While I understand his choice, going to the White House is more than meeting the President. It’s a chance to take in history, and see the White House. Cora got a chance to do so as a player back in 2008 with President Bush. A lot can change in eleven years. Granted, in the past, many players have opted against going. This, of course, is their choice. I wonder, however, what Cora will do instead.

Off Day Blues

While Red Sox players such as JD Martinez and Brock Holt will be attending, many will not. One can only wonder what those who won’t be going will do. My hope is that they do what teams have done in the past, such as visit Walter Reed or assist in the community.

Winning the World Series doesn’t happen everyday, and it should be celebrated. This team has accomplished a lot. Therefore, I hope that they keep getting better as the season continues.

Player Positioning: Red Sox Hitters

We’ve only seen twelve games this season, which accounts for a measly seven percent of the long, 162-game stretch. However, it is never too early to start analyzing how players are performing. Here is a look at each of the Red Sox hitters’ player positioning with the team.

Player Positioning: Catchers

Christian Vazquez – .185 BA, .612 OPS, 4 runs, 5 hits, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 7 k’s, 1 SBPlayer Positioning 

The Puerto Rico native had a double and a home run in the team’s first 2 games, but has cooled off since, with just 1 extra-base hit in his last 5 starts. Vazquez is valued more as a leader on defense. His most starts in a season came in 2017 when he had 99. Look for him to set a new career-high in that department with the departure of Sandy Leon.

Blake Swihart – .353 BA, 1.009 OPS, 4 runs, 6 hits, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 4 k’s, 0 SB

Some could make a case for Swihart’s player positioning role to increase. I would have to agree. A former first-round draft pick in 2011, the backstop is finally in a position to earn more playing time with the team. The most games he has started in a season was 84 back in 2015. He has always been known to have potential as a slugger, and he is proving it now. In four starts thus far, Swihart has 3 runs, 5 hits, 2 extra-base hits, and 3 RBI.

Player Positioning: Corner infield

Mitch Moreland – .257 BA, 1.036 OPS, 5 runs, 9 hits, 4 HRs, 10 RBI, 5 walks, 7 k’s, 0 SB

“Mitchy Two Bags” has started 2019 on fire, which has been necessary with his platoon partner, Steve Pearce, beginning the campaign on the Injured List. Moreland, now in his third year with Boston, is slugging .686 through 12 games. He won the Red Sox their first game of the season back on March 29 with a pinch-hit, 3-run homer. With Devers struggling, look for Moreland’s left-handed bat to remain in the lineup as much as possible.

Rafael Devers – .250 BA, .622 OPS, 7 runs, 11 hits, 0 HRs, 0 RBI, 5 walks, 9 k’s, 1 SB

The youngest slugger in the lineup is Devers, who is 22 years old and is in his second year. Cora decided to deploy the third baseman in the three-hole to start the season. The decision warrants much hope and promise from skipper to slugger. ‘Rafy’ had a strong opening series against Seattle, with 6 hits and 4 runs, but has just 5 hits and 3 runs in six games since.

Player Positioning: Middle infield

Dustin Pedroia – 4 PAs, 1 hit

Pedroia started yesterday’s home opener against the Blue Jays. It was his first start since May 29th of last season. He grounded into a double play in his first at-bat. In his last at-bat in the 9th inning, he smacked a liner to right field for a base knock to start a rally. He looked rusty, and while it will take some time for the 35-year-old to get caught up to speed, it was encouraging to see him back in action.

Xander Bogaerts – .263 BA, .839 OPS, 6 runs, 10 hits, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 8 walks, 8 k’s, 0 SB

Bogaerts is a cog at shortstop, especially after signing a long-term extension in Spring Training. He had opened the season with at least one strikeout in six straight contests, but has not struck out in any of the past five games. Instead, he has collected six walks.

Player Positioning: Outfield

Andrew Benintendi – .261 BA, .662 OPS, 4 runs, 12 hits, 0 HRs, 5 RBI, 4 walks, 12 k’s, 1 SB. 

“Benny” led off in all four games against Seattle, then batted second in the next four games against Oakland, and then got switched back to leadoff for three games against Arizona. He has been disappointing for the most part – registering the second most strikeouts on the team. Before yesterday’s 0-for-5 performance, however, he had strung together 4 straight multi-hit games.

Jackie Bradley Jr. – .171 BA, .404 OPS, 3 runs, 7 hits, 0 HRs, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 13 k’s, 2 SB

Also in the discussion for most disappointing start out of the gate is Bradley. “JBJ” has a team-high 13 strikeouts. His defense is what clearly keeps him in the lineup. He won his first Gold Glove in 2018, and also stole a career-best 17 bags. His career OPS of .718 is likely Bradley’s ceiling for this season. He is clearly cold right now and will need a streaky change to come into effect as the season moves forward. It has happened before.

Mookie Betts – .255 BA, .831 OPS, 10 runs, 12 hits, 3 HRs, 7 RBI, 5 walks, 10 k’s, 0 SB.

Like Benintendi, Betts has been shifted around by manager Alex Cora. He has batted second in the lineup in 8 of the 12 games and, on Friday night, manned center field in place of Jackie Bradley Jr. Betts looked shaky in center. He seems much more comfortable in right field, his Gold Glove position. To support the claim, he threw out an Arizona baserunner “by a mile,” according to WEEI play-by-play commentator Joe Castiglione. After starting the season 4-for-15 with no extra base knocks, Betts has compiled 3 doubles, 3 home runs, and 7 RBIs since.

Player Positioning: Designated Hitter

J.D. Martinez – .326 BA, .936 OPS, 6 runs, 15 hits, 3 HRs, 8 RBI, 5 walks, 6 k’s, 0 SB

The back-to-back 40 home run bruiser has been Boston’s best hitter in the early going. “Just Dongs” leads the team in hits, on-base percentage, and total bases. He has also slugged 3 home runs already.

Player Positioning: Platoon hitters

Eduardo Nunez – .167 BA, .367 OPS, 2 runs, 5 hits, 0 HRs, 3 RBI, 0 walks, 3 k’s, 2 SB

“Nuny” has arguably been the most disappointing Red Sox at the plate. He has one extra-base hit in 31 PAs. A former All-Star, he has lacked confidence in the box and while playing the field (mostly second, one game at third). With Pedroia’s activation yesterday, expect Nunez’s player positioning to revert back to a reserve role.

Steve Pearce – 7 PAs, 1 hit (double), 4 k’s

Last year’s World Series MVP has appeared in just two games. He roped a double to deep left in his first game in Oakland. The Red Sox signed Pearce to a $6.5 million, one-year deal in the offseason. He came over from Toronto last July and posted a .901 OPS down the stretch. His bat and experience are extremely valuable to this team.

Brock Holt – 19 PAs, 1 hit, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 7 k’s

The utility man is currently on the Injured List after “being poked in the eye by his son,” per NESN.com. ‘Brockstar’ quietly had his best statistical season in 2018, posting a .774 OPS in 367 PAs. It will be interesting to see how long Holt is held out for and how the team is playing when he comes back. Holt’s player positioning could either continue as the team’s backup second baseman or slot back into his more familiar “service role.”

West Coast Problems: Sox Stuck With Struggling

The Red Sox could not hold their lead after scoring the first 3 runs in yesterday’s game. Making his second start of the season was Eduardo Rodriguez, and for the second consecutive start, Rodriguez looked awful. In his first outing in Seattle last Saturday, E-Rod could not make it out of the 4th inning, as he allowed 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), a home run, and 3 walks on 105 pitches. Yesterday, the left-hander could not make it out of the 3rd. He again allowed 8 hits, 6 runs (all earned), a home run, and 3 walks. He threw just 84 pitches and, with the loss, his record now stands at 0-2. The Sox west coast problems have been a combination of mental mistakes, poor pitching, and poor teamplay.

West Coast Problems: Cora at the forefront

“I pay attention to details,” manager Alex Cora told nbcsportsboston.com. “I love payingWest Coast Problems attention to details and that’s something I took pride [in] last year. And right now, we’re not paying attention to details. So that’s on me. That’s on the staff.”

There were several examples of unacceptable decision making from the entire series, but especially from yesterday’s loss. In the 4th inning, Rodriguez allowed a RBI double to Robbie Grossman that gave Oakland a 4-3 lead. Marcus Semien then flied out to center for the inning’s second out. Stephen Piscotty then came to the plate. After hitting a 3-run bomb in his previous at-bat, Piscotty sent a flyball towards the right-center warning track. A miscommunication occurred between two Gold Glove outfielders, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. The ball landed between them and hopped over the wall for a two-run, ground rule double. 6-3, Oakland.

West Coast Problems: Laureano for sure

Later in the game, in the 9th inning, the Sox found themselves down 7-3. Betts had reached first base on a walk. Andrew Benintendi subsequently sent a blooper to short-center field that dropped between Ramon Laureano and Semien. Betts aggressively rounded second and headed towards third, only to be thrown out by Laureano for his third outfield assist of the series. The Red Sox could of had runners on first and second with no outs. Instead, Benintendi was stuck at first with one out. The game ended two batters later.

Red Sox starting pitching this season looks like this: 0-5, 8.44 ERA, 13 home runs allowed, and a .301 BAA. Opponents have compiled a 1.052 OPS. Just to compare apples to apples, here is what the current division leader, Tampa Bay Rays, starting pitching looks like: 4-1, 2.19 ERA, 5 home runs allowed, a .190 BAA and a .570 OPS.

The Sox will attempt to ease the pain of their west coast problems as they play Arizona next starting tonight. Things do not get easier for Boston’s starters, as the team heads into the final series before returning to Fenway for the home opener on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks rank second in runs, home runs, and RBI in the National League through 7 games. They rank first in hits, doubles, and total bases.

Something that is not seen in the box score is how a team cooperates together from a visual perspective. One note I wanted to hit on is what Red Sox Nation knows as the ‘jump hug’ between Brock Holt and J.D. Martinez. Every time Martinez homers, Holt greets him in the dugout with a childlike, inseparable hug and the two jump together to celebrate. The tradition has lasted for about a full year now. I understand that baseball is full of quirky rituals and superstitions, but my question is, why are two grown men celebrating over one sequence when, overall, the team is in flux and in last place? It’s something that has been bugging me.

Boston’s record stands at 2-6 through their first two series. It is their worst start to a begin a season since 2011 when the team started 1-7 under former manager Terry Francona.

Not Saying The Red Sox Need Pedroia, But Maybe?

The early struggles of the 2019 Red Sox derive from multiple departments. Starting at the top, Mookie Betts is 6-for-27 in the batters box, which is equates to a .222 batting average. That’s a problem. The team’s pitchers have allowed a total of 16 home runs in just six games. That tops the American League. The team’s poorest output, offensively speaking, has come from center field and second base. Jackie Bradley Jr., in 23 PAs, has a .174 on-base (OBP) and the combination of Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt looks like this: 23 PAs, 2 hits, an OBP of .130, 2 steals, and 2 strikeouts. I’m not saying the Red Sox need Pedroia back, and I am not saying they don’t. But perhaps his admittance to the 25-man roster could do some good for this team.

Fact: The Red Sox did not need Dustin Pedroia last year to win the World Series.Red Sox need Pedroia

The team occupied Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler, and Brock Holt at the keystone in 2018. Nunez reached base at a .289 clip and Kinsler’s .294 clip was in 143 PAs for the Sox. Holt, on the contrary, posted a .362 clip in 367 PAs.

Pedey played in just 3 games last season and in 2017, he logged 463 PAs in 105 games. He tallied 201 hits in 2016. It was just the second time in his lengthy career that he eclipsed the 200-hit mark.

Now at age 35, he’s on the outside looking in. His recovery from knee surgery has been a long, grueling process. His contract with the Red Sox expires in 2021. It has seemed that all along, he has been to do whatever needs to be done in order to get back to a playing role with this team.

According to Alex Cora, via Ian Browne of MLB.com, Pedroia is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with Low-A Greenville. He is expected to play in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday, have a day off on Saturday, and then play a full nine innings on Sunday.

So, how would Pedroia’s return be helpful? Some may actually view it as a distraction. The thinking is that the team needs to focus on winning games and not become distracted and emotional over the return of the “little leader.”

Pedroia is a true leader

While some may think that way, I believe that the opposing perspective is true. The one constant that has always remained with Pedroia is his leadership. When healthy, he is the first player in the clubhouse. He is all business. I’m not saying the Red Sox need Pedroia and his counsel, but that type of attitude could reflect well on Red Sox players at this juncture. Other than last season, Pedroia is a two-time World Series champion. He won a WS with Alex Cora as his teammate in ’07.

Pedroia is also recognized as a leader while playing the field. Besides being a four-time Gold Glove winner, Pedey helps his pitchers in other ways too. In 2016, while David Price was struggling on the mound during his first season in Boston, Pedroia helped point out issues he was seeing in Price’s arm mechanics.

In addition, Pedroia’s entry could break up some staleness in the Red Sox fielding depth chart. Brock Holt, who is known primarily as a utility man, could start to platoon more all around the diamond, instead of backing up Nunez at second. He could give players like Andrew Benintendi and Bradley Jr. breaks in the outfield on certain days. The same could be said about Nunez, whose must comfortable fielding position is said to be third base. I’m not saying the Red Sox need Pedroia, but more fielding flexibility could help loosen things up.

In 13 seasons, Pedroia owns an on-base percentage of .366. In some thinking, Pedroia could be this season’s version of 2018’s Kinsler, who owns a .339 career OBP along with two gold gloves, including one last year. Pedroia and Kinsler were teammates at Arizona State University in 2002 before Kinsler transferred to University of Missouri in ’03. Both Pedroia and Kinsler are four-time All-Stars as well. I’m not saying the Red Sox need Pedroia, but maybe he could be this team’s missing link.