David Price’s return helps lead Sox in rout of Blue Jays

Don’t look now, but if the Red Sox continue to roll over teams like they did in a 12-2 victory over Toronto yesterday, the league better be on alert. After David Price’s return to form, and an offensive onslaught led by red-hot hitters Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, the Sox have clearly put that series loss against Houston behind them.

Price looks like his old self in his first start back from the IL

David Price’s return will bolster the rotation, which was thinning with Nathan Eovaldi David Price's returnweeks away from returning. In his first trip to the mound since May 2, the southpaw was strong. Price went five innings (67 pitches) and held Toronto to just two runs and three hits, striking out four. For Price, his latest effort just adds on to his pure dominance over Toronto in his career. This afternoon’s victory propelled him to a 13-1 record all-time at the Rogers Centre. That balloons to a 22-3 career record in games pitched against the Blue Jays, good for a 2.37 ERA.

You don’t mess with David if the Jays are in the opposing dugout.

Bogaerts and Devers go back-to-back, Chavis stays hot

Carrying the offensive load for Boston were Bogaerts and Devers, led by back-to-back bombs in the 9th inning. On the day, the young sluggers each drove in a trifecta of runs, with rookie Michael Chavis adding another moonshot and a pair of runs driven in. Chavis finished the afternoon with a mammoth .981 OPS through 26 career games. That would be the highest mark on the team (for position players) if it qualified. Adding to the barrage was Jackie Bradley Jr., who drilled a line drive over the left field fence for his first home run of the season. His homerless drought had led all the way back to the ALCS against Houston. That homer came in Game 4 off of Josh James to tie the game in the sixth inning, leading to an eventual Red Sox victory.

Today’s lashing continues a powerful stretch for the Sox. Over their last 18 games (since 4/29) they have smacked 34 homers and have averaged 6.84 runs per game. In that span, they lead the majors in OPS.

The bullpen combines with David Price’s return to completely shut down the Jays

After Price allowed a two-run home run to Luke Maile in the second, the Red Sox arms shut it down. That home run was the final hit surrendered by Boston pitching for the remainder of the game. After that home run, 22 of the 23 remaining batters were retired. Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Hector Velazquez combined to throw four scoreless innings, striking out six and walking just one. The bullpen continues to be a strong point, posting a sub-two ERA over its last 22 games, the second-best mark in MLB.

As the Red Sox continue to rebound from that ugly start, all sides of the ball appear to be clicking. If the Rays and Yankees continue to battle the injuries they have suffered with, it would not be out of the question for the Red Sox to be as good a challenger as anyone for the division title.

The Boston Blame Game

Right now, the Red Sox are hanging on for dear life near the bottom of the division. The only real bright spot is the sweep of the Rays in Tampa. Many fans were happy that the core group from last year is back. However, many are wondering if more could have been done. Thus begins the Boston blame game.

With the departures of Joe Kelly to the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel to the unknown, theboston blame Red Sox bullpen is a mystery. The same can be said for the rest of the roster. In the past, however, the bullpen in Boston has been a wildcard. You never know what is going to happen next.

Where Does the Boston Blame Lie?

There are so many things that have and can go wrong. There are also many things that can go right. However, for the Red Sox, not much has gone right for them. Where do we begin? How about the very quiet Boston offseason.

This past offseason following the World Series win was kind of quiet in Boston. While other teams were signing and trading, It seemed like not a lot was going on in the front office. The most that was done was the trade that brought relief pitcher, Colten Brewer to Boston. Brewer, who is entering his second season in the majors, played for the San Diego Padres last season.

Many teams were trading right off the bat. Teams such as the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays make some big moves to make their teams as successful as they are now. Probably the least shocking issues was the free agent market. With big names like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper not signing deals right away, it’s no surprise that many players are still waiting.

Still, even with most of the champs staying in Boston, it’s hard not to point fingers and blame the front office for not doing more. Dave Dombrowski basically stated that he didn’t want to do a whole lot. That was evident, especially with relievers going to other teams in free agency. I get it, you want the core team to stick together and keep winning. However, it’s almost May, and the Red Sox are falling behind.

Spring Training

It’s tough to not look at the Red Sox’s Spring Training record and question what could have gone differently. Alex Cora and company only allowed the core starters to pitch certain innings and games. This has led to a slow start for guys like Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. Both starters have been open with their struggles, and blame themselves for the lack of good pitching during their regular season starts.

The Bullpen

Anytime Red Sox Nation sees a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, we either get a good feeling, or a bad feeling. For example, in the game against the New York Yankees on April 17th, Nathan Eovaldi was pitching a good game, and was taken out in the 7th inning. Brandon Workman came in, and gave up a single, and walked two batters before being taken out with the bases loaded and one out in the inning. This led to Brett Gardner hitting the game winning grand slam off of Ryan Braiser.

As of right now, the bullpen consists of Workman, Braiser, Matt Barnes, Brewer, Heath Hembree, Travis Lakins, Tyler Thornburg and Marcus Walden. Many of these pitchers, with the exception of Lakins, have many years of major league experience. Lakins, who was called up and made his MLB debut on April 23rd against Detroit has an ERA of 3.38. He went 2.2 innings, striking out two in the loss to the Tigers.

The Future

The Red Sox have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. With many players on the injured list, the bright spot is seeing rookie Michael Chavis contributing to the club. The infielder made his Major League debut against Tampa Bay on April 20th. So far, he is batting .214, with one home run and two RBI’s. He has also transitioned to second base, after playing third and first in the minors.

Does Red Sox Nation still trust Cora? It’s tough to tell. The Red Sox haven’t been playing their best, and when they do, it’s only one or two games. There are many factors in the Boston blame game, however, some are more evident than others.

With May right around the corner, it’s a guess that the Red Sox will turn a corner. A corner in which it shows them heading to the top. After all, we are the defending World Series Champions.

Red Sox Game 4 Recap

Sunday’s pitching matchup was between Rick Porcello (career-high 190 strikeouts in 2018) vs. Wade LeBlanc (27 starts, 3.72 ERA in 2018). Andrew Benintendi was held out of the lineup for the first time in 2019. Mookie Betts led off for the first time since last year’s World Series Game 5. To begin Boston Red Sox 2019 game-4 recap, let’s see how Rafael Devers scored the Sox’s first run on Sunday.

The Sox scored first in this one. After a ground out by Betts to start the game, Deversgame 4 recap doubled to deep left and J.D. Martinez drove him in with a RBI single up the middle. Eduardo Nunez drove in two more later in the first inning, thanks to an error from third baseman Ryon Healy that loaded the bases.

Porcello breezed through the first with 2 k’s and a flyout. LeBlanc pitched a clean second. Jay Bruce led off the bottom of inning two with a stand up double to right and Omar Narvaez singled right after. Bruce to third. Later in the inning with two outs, Dee Gordon singled in both Bruce and Narvaez. Boston 3, Seattle 2.

Game 4 recap premier moment

In the top of the third, the Red Sox put two men in scoring position (Martinez and Mitch Moreland), but were unable to score. In the bottom half, Mitch Haniger drove a ball to left field and Martinez, who usually DH’s, dropped the ball in the sun. Haniger safe at second. Three batters later, Narvaez belted a three-run home run into the right field bleachers. Seattle 5, Boston 3. Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith added the next two runs via a sacrifice fly and a RBI single. 7-3, Seattle. Porcello was pulled after throwing 73 pitches in 2.2 innings. Brian Johnson came on in relief.

The Mariners still were not done in the third. With two outs, Haniger doubled in two more with a double, past Devers, down the left field line. Domingo Santana flew out to deep center to end the inning after seven runs scored. Seattle 9, Boston 3.

Game 4 recap: Sox strike right back

The Sox struck right back. With two men on (Betts, Devers) and two outs in the top of the fourth, Martinez hammered a ball far and gone, just inside the left field foul pole. The deficit was cut to three.

Jay Bruce responded immediately, though, with a solo shot to right-center off Johnson. The left-hander escaped the inning after allowing another extra-base hit – a double to Healy. Seattle 10, Boston 6.

Betts launched a solo shot in the sixth inning off Mariners reliever Nick Rumbelow to cut the lead back to three. Both teams went scoreless the next two and a half innings.

In the ninth inning with the bases loaded, M’s reliever Chasen Bradford walked pinch-hitter Blake Swihart to score Martinez. The tying run moved to scoring position at second base. Christian Vazquez then struck out and Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out to end the game. Final score: Seattle 10, Boston 8.

Some things I liked from Sunday’s game were the three runs scored in the first inning, J.D. Martinez knocking in four runs, hitters going 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and the strong finish by Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, Ryan Brasier in relief. Things I did not like were a costly error by Martinez in the outfield that helped fuel a seven-run inning, hitters leaving ten men stranded on base, and Porcello’s inability to pitch 3 innings.

Game 4 recap: Opening Series takeaway

The Red Sox finished their first series of the season with one win and three losses. Spectacularly, each of their starting pitchers (Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Porcello) allowed at least six runs. Martinez and Devers combined for 13 hits. Andrew Benintendi had just one hit. Martinez had two home runs. The most effective relief pitchers were Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. Combined, the two allowed 2 hits and 2 walks in 4.1 innings.

Boston starts their next series tonight against the Oakland Athletics. First pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET.

Red Sox Update: Two Days Until Opening Day

With two days until Opening Day in Seattle and with ample activity occurring in the past week, here is a quick Red Sox update. Chris Sale signed a 5-yr/$145 million contract on Saturday to remain with the team through 2024. Also on Saturday, the Red Sox made the final cuts to their bullpen. Darwinzon Hernandez was sent to Double-A Portland, while Bobby Poyner and Marcus Walden were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager Alex Cora stated that Jenrry Mejia would not make the Opening Day roster as well.

Bullpen is set…for now

The Sox bullpen will consist of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Heath Hembree,Red Sox Update Brian Johnson, Tyler Thornburg, Hector Velazquez and Brandon Workman to begin 2019.

On Monday, Sandy Leon, who had been with the Red Sox since 2015, was placed on waivers. Later that day, Rick Porcello was hit in the head with a ‘comebacker’ by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. He “laughed” it off and stayed in the game. What?!?

Arguably the most substantial news happened last Wednesday. In an interview with reporters, reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts was asked about Angels outfielder Mike Trout’s new record breaking contract. “I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

Also in this Red Sox Update

It was announced very early this morning that reigning World Series MVP Steve Pearce will begin 2019 on the Injured List (IL) due to a left calf injury. Sam Travis will serve as Boston’s backup first baseman in Seattle.

Just over a week ago on March 18, Cora announced that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will also begin the season on the Injured List. Pedroia could make his debut on April 9th on Boston’s first home game of the season versus Toronto.

Red Sox Versatility Should Not Be Overlooked

I have come to the conclusion that versatility is the Red Sox organization’s top strength and it should not be overlooked in 2016. Already we have seen guys step-up to the challenge when injuries and inconsistency arose. Guys like Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez, and Heath Hembree have all shown us what “Red Sox versatility” really is and by being key contributors and bright spots in what has so far been a dismal season.Red Sox versatility

Down in Pawtucket the phrase ‘Red Sox versatility’ can be seen in action on a daily basis with guys not only getting reps in at different positions, but also embracing the challenge. One of those guys is IF/OF Sean Coyle. A 3rd round draft pick out of Germantown Academy (PA) in 2010 has been seeing time this season down in Pawtucket at 2B, 3B, and CF. When I asked him about seeing time in the outfield, Coyle responded:

“It’s an easy comp, being an infielder and then going ahead to the outfield. i know Mookie started out as an infielder and then moved to the outfield, anywhere I can go and pick up some AB’s I’m ready to go, I’m ready to play and its kind of a challenge I’ve embraced.”

Having a guy who you can move all around the left side of the infield as well as CF not only helps the organization, but also will help him in the long run. With the way injuries have been taking over the first month of the season for the Sox, you could be seeing Coyle’s versatility at the major league level this season.

It’s becoming more of a common trend to see guys becoming utility-players . Names such as Ben Zobrist, Brock Holt, and Danny Valencia are showing teams that having the ability to play multiple positions can surely strengthen a teams depth, but also gives managers the flexibility to carry an extra pitcher or 2, and we all know you can never have too many pitchers.

 

Heath Hembree Fan Club

The Heath Hembree Fan Club was born in the wee hours of Monday, April 25 after closer Craig Kimbrel blew hist first save against the Houston Astros. But fear not! For a knight in shining armor appeared and mowed down the Astros hitters for the final 3 innings of a 12-inning circus show. That knight who threw 49 pitches (and only 8 were balls) is RHP Heath Hembree.

At first glance, you may think to yourself “wait…is that John Lackey, I thought we traded him?” Fan ClubOthers have compared him to Kenny Powers from the hit HBO show Eastbound and Down. Personally I think he resembles a John Lackey/Craig Hansen with a splash of Bryce Brentz. Regardless, he’s a guy who the Sox have had to rely on early in his call-up and he has welcomed the challenge with open arms.

Hembree who was one of the pieces acquired from the San Francisco Giants during the summer of 2014 as part of the return for pitcher Jake Peavy, has made three appearances so far this season. In 7 2/3 innings he’s allowed four hits and just one walk to counter his 11 strikes. Over his 3 years with the Sox, Hembree has accumulated a 3.38 ERA while appearing in 30 games. Now I know 30 games over 3 seasons is a very small sample size, but so far in 2016 he’s looking like the real deal.

In a season that has been plagued with injuries so early on and huge pitching woes it’s nice to finally see a pitcher that has not only shown some consistency, but has also been pretty effective. That’s a weapon that John Farrell didn’t have in the beginning of the season and, like they say, sometimes it’s better late than never.

The Heath Hembree fan club will be riding high this week. Twitter will be exploding with Hembree references, jersey sales will be through the roof, and you can bet he’ll be making his way around the late night television circuit. Obviously I am kidding about some of these things, but make no mistake about it: the Red Sox have found what I believe is to be a key piece to this bullpen moving forward. The only question is how long can he keep up this dominance? I’m hoping FOREVER!