Red Sox Journal: Sox won 5 of 7 in the last week

A week ago today, the Sox defeated the Oakland A’s in the second of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Rick Porcello had his best outing of the season. He pitched 8 shutout innings and allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks. The Sox won the game, 5-1.

A day later, on a rare Wednesday afternoon game, Boston was gunning for their first homesox won sweep of the season. Hector Velazquez started and pitched 2 innings of one-run ball. Marcus Walden, who has pitched exceptionally well after starting 2019 at Triple-A, pitched in relief and hurled 3 scoreless innings. Andrew Benintendi broke the game open in the sixth inning when he scored two runners on a bloop single to center field. Final score: Boston 7, Oakland 3.

On Thursday, the team sent second baseman Dustin Pedroia on a rehab assignment to Double-A Portland. The veteran has since played in three games for the Sea Dogs. He has recorded 3 hits and 1 RBI.

Also on Thursday, the Sox were in search for a season-high fourth straight victory. But, mistakes in the ninth inning by third baseman Rafael Devers and closer Ryan Brasier resulted in a White Sox win on a walk-off home run.

Boston responded by winning the final three games of the series in impressive fashion. After the game 1 loss, they outscored Chicago 30-to-5. By the end of the weekend, the Red Sox had captured their third three-game winning streak of the season.

In-season Acquisitions

The team made several other transactions last week. On Friday, they added infielder Cody Asche to their 40-man roster. Pedrioa played in two games over the weekend in Double-A Portland.  Asche most recently played at the Triple-A level for the Sugar Land Skeeters of Sugar Land, Texas. His last major league appearance came in 2017 with the White Sox.

On Saturday, Boston placed shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin on the 10-day Injured List (left knee sprain). The team recalled Eduardo Nunez from Pawtucket. Since being activated, Nunez has started two of three games.

Also on Saturday, first baseman Joey Curletta was added to the 40-man roster after being claimed off waivers from Seattle. The 25-year-old has no major league experience, but was named the 2018 Texas League Player of the Year (Double-A) after posting 23 home runs and 94 RBI in 129 games. Curletta was assigned to the Paw Sox roster.

Yesterday, before opening up a three-game series in Baltimore, the Red Sox placed starting pitcher David Price on the 10-day Injured List due to elbow tendinitis on his pitching arm. Price had been the team’s most consistent starting pitcher this season (1-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.14 WHIP). Right-handed pitcher Ryan Weber filled the roster spot after being called up. Weber pitched 4 scoreless innings last night in relief for starter Josh Smith.

After losing last night in Baltimore 4-1, the Sox will send Hector Velazquez to the mound tonight. Chris Sale will pitch the series finale on Wednesday.

April Awards: Hitters, Pitchers, Fielders

April has come and gone. The Sox finished the month on a strong note – two wins at home against the Athletics. Their overall record is 13-17, good for 7 games back in the AL East. After some fast starts (Mitch Moreland: 10 extra base hits in first 14 games) and slow starts (Rick Porcello: 11.12 ERA through first 3 starts) to the season, the team heads into May with some optimism, as they look to capture their second sweep of the season today. The following are April awards for Red Sox players:

Player of the Month: Mookie Betts

  • Betts has batted second in the lineup for most of the season. He leads Red Soxapril awards hitters in at-bats, runs, walks, on-base percentage, and OPS. He has also been very efficient in the field, as he leads all Boston outfielders with 5 assists. He has permitted zero errors in mostly right field and some center field. After batting as low as the Mendoza-line through the season’s first three weeks, Betts has turned things around. He batted .452 in the final 11 games of April.

Best starting pitcher: David Price

  • This April award was easy to hand to Price, not because Price’s stuff has been dominant, but because everyone else’s hasn’t been great. Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez have ERAs above six. Rick Porcello’s ERA is above five-and-a-half. Nathan Eovaldi made four starts (6.00 ERA) before going under the knife. Price owns an ERA of 3.60 and a WHIP of 1.07. He finished April with two quality starts.

Best reliever: Ryan Brasier

  • The Red Sox started the season without a firm understanding of their team’s closer. Brasier has become their guy. Six saves in seven opportunities is good for 5th in the American League. His 1.32 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and .188 batting average against are all elite numbers. Matt Barners, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman have all been stellar as well, but Brasier takes the cake here.

Best hitter: J.D. Martinez

  • Martinez, who is batting .312 on the season, edges out Betts by a hair. The former leads the team in batting average and hits (34), and is third in on-base and slugging. Martinez led the led in hits, home runs, and RBI last year. I expect him to do the same this season.

Best fielder: Christian Vázquez

  • The April award could have gone to Betts, or Mitch Moreland, or Xander Bogaerts. Vázquez’s presence behind the dish has been extremely valuable, with the unexpected departure of Blake Swihart and easing-in of Sandy León. Vázquez has caught 5 base runners stealing, which ranks 3rd in the AL. However, more spectacularly, his zero errors ranks first in the AL.

Best rookie: Michael Chavis

  • Of all the April awards, this was an easy one – not just because Chavis is the only Red Sox rookie to receive regular looks this year. His numbers are terrific. His batting average is above .300, on-base above .400, and OPS above 1.000. He has earned an everyday role at second base, and has even seen time at first and third. His bat is for power (3 home runs), and he seems to feel comfortable with his glove while lined up at several infield positions.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13, Swept By Yankees

At the onset of each matchup, the Sox keep setting out to win games with high hopes of winning series.’ Through 19 games in their championship-defending season, however, the club has yet to win a series and has split just two: one against Toronto and one against Baltimore. Both Toronto and Baltimore combined for 120 wins last year. Boston won 119 games. Last night’s loss to the Yankees had the Red Sox plummet to 6-13. They have now distanced themselves 8.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the division.

The Astros were 2017’s defending champs, and garnered a record of 12-7 through theirRed Sox plummet first 19 games in 2018. A season earlier, after winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs won 11 of their first 19 the following year. Both the Astros and Cubs made the postseason following their WS titles.’ The last defending champ to have six wins or less through their first 19 games (the following season) was the 1998 Florida Marlins. They started 5-14 and finished with 104 losses. Dombrowski oversaw both the ’98 Marlins team and this ’19 Red Sox team.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13: “When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad”

Chris Sale is now 0-4 with an ERA of 8.50. After his start on Tuesday, he spoke with reporters and shared his disgust:

“It’s as frustrated as I’ve ever been on a baseball field,” Sale said. “It sucks. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. I flat-out stink right now. I don’t know what it is. When you’re going good, it’s good. When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad.”

Despite the ace’s struggles, he did throw 93 pitches and recorded six strikeouts, which were both season highs. He was also able to uptick his velocity to the 97 MPH range for the first time in 2019.

In terms of positional players, Dustin Pedroia exited Wednesday’s game due to left knee soreness after his first at-bat. He is most likely on his way back to the Injured List. Mookie Betts is batting .200, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .148, and everyday third baseman Rafael Devers has an OPS well below .700.

After a strong start as a cohesive unit, the bullpen has been bad lately. Since throwing a collective shutout in Arizona on April 7th, the brigade has warranted a run in seven of the eight games since. Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, Erasmo Ramirez, and Brandon Workman have all warranted at least 3 earned runs in that span. They have surrendered a total of 21 earned runs in those eight games.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13: Some bright notes

Nathan Eovaldi had his best outing last night. Six innings, three hits, and zero earned runs. In addition, he struck out six and eclipsed the 100-pitch mark for the first time.

J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez both homered last night. Martinez’s OPS sits above 1.000 and Vázquez’s .438 slugging percentage ranks 5th amongst American League catchers.

After an off-day today, the Sox begin a three-game set at the Trop on Friday. Eduardo Rodriguez will look to build off his impressive start last Friday against Baltimore. Rick Porcello and David Price are scheduled to start on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. They face a Tampa team that is off to their best start in franchise history and has the best record in baseball. Boston has the most road losses to date with 10.

The Sox have no choice but to continue to stay positive and look ahead. It’s better to be slumping now rather than in September. After Sunday’s game, the team will head home for a 10-game home-stand. One would say that now would be the perfect time to stop slumping.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Sox Salvage One Victory In Arizona

The Red Sox weekend wrap-up began Friday night in the desert with the opening contest of a three-game set against the Diamondbacks. Rick Porcello started his second game of the season. Porcello, after allowing 4 earned runs against Seattle in his first start two Sundays ago, got shelled again. He gave up 7 earned runs in 4.2 innings. What was encouraging to see, however, was the right-hander’s emotions when he returned to the dugout following the bottom half of the 4th inning. A camera showed him throw a Gatorade cooler against the dugout wall. It was nice to see some nerve from Boston’s lousy start to the season. Porcello, now in his eleventh season, has never accumulated an ERA above 4.92, nor a WHIP above 1.53.

Porcello was relieved with two outs in the 5th by Brian Johnson. Johnson, like Porcello,weekend wrap went on to allow 7 earned runs himself, including a grand slam, in just 1.1 innings. When the left-hander finally exited the game after the 6th, the score was 14-1 Arizona.

The Red Sox ended up scoring seven runs in the final two innings. The game was still far out of hand, though. Final score: D-backs 15, Sox 8.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Sox lose a tight one in second game of series

Saturday’s game was another loss, but this time much closer, 5-4. The Red Sox scored first for the third consecutive game. They put up three runs in the top of the 2nd inning. One of those runs was knocked in by pitcher David Price, which was his first career RBI. The Sox could not hold the lead, however. The D-backs responded promptly in the inning’s bottom half with four runs off Price to take the lead.

The game’s next run was not scored until the 7th inning when Mookie Betts drove in Jackie Bradley Jr. with a sacrifice fly to right field. Arizona 4, Boston 4.

The D-backs had a runner on second base, Eduardo Escobar, with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Then Nick Ahmen hit a grounder under Moreland’s glove at first. Escobar came around third base and headed home for the winning run, only to be thrown out by Betts on a one-hopper. Carson Kelly was up next and socked a liner down the left field line that scored Ahmed easily from second. No throw. Final score: Arizona 5, Boston 4.

After losing Saturday’s game, the Red Sox fell to 2-8, which tied the franchise’s worst start through the first ten games.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Boston bullpen captures the team’s first shutout

Manager Alex Cora elected to start reliever Hector Velazquez in the series finale yesterday. The decision proved to be a good one. The right-hander pitched 3 innings and allowed no runs on one hit. The final six innings were handled by Brandon Workman, Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier. Just two hits and one walk were permitted. Walden and Barners each pitched two innings. Brasier earned his second save of the season.

Mookie Betts was given the day to rest. Mitch Moreland supplied the team its only run of the game. He sent a ball over the fence in the 7th inning for a solo shot. It was Moreland’s third homer of the campaign.

The Sox have their first break of the young season today. They get back to it tomorrow afternoon in the team’s home opener against the Blue Jays.

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.