Series Recap: 3/29-4/1 at TB

Records entering series: BOS (0-0), TB (0-0)

Game 1: BOS-4, TB-6

(Photo credit: ESPN)

The Red Sox opened the scoring in the 2nd. After Martinez walked and Bogaerts doubled, Devers drove in Martinez from 3rd on a fielder’s choice. Eduardo Nunez then cleared the bases with a spectacular inside-the-park HR, making it 3-0 Sox.

It was then a pitchers duel, with Sale and Rays starter Chris Archer trading 4 consecutive scoreless innings from there on. Devers broke that up by driving in Bogaerts with a double to deep right, and Matt Barnes made his first appearance of the year, pitching a scoreless 7th for the Sox.

It all unraveled for Boston in the 8th when Joe Kelly walked Robertson, stuck out Refsnyder, gave up a double to Duffy (scoring Robertson), then walked the next two to load the bases. Carson Smith replaced Kelly and immediately walked Miller (scoring Duffy), then gave up a triple and an infield single, ultimately making it 6-4 TB to end the 8th.

Colome came on in the 9th to close it out for TB.

Game 2: BOS-1, TB-0

(Photo credit: ESPN)

Game 2 was a classic pitchers duel. David Price went 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits, and the Rays’ Blake Snell allowed just 3 hits of his own in 5.2.

Both pitchers looked very good. Price was deceptive and varied in his pitch selection, and all 3 of his pitches were landing effectively. And Snell kept the Boston hitters on the back foot all night, routinely frustrating them with a mix of his mid-90’s fastball and his crafty off-speed stuff.

The lone run of the game came in the 7th. Xander Bogaerts continued his doubles parade by launching another two-bagger to left. Rafael Devers brought him home on the next at-bat with a single up the middle.

The Boston bullpen redeemed itself by pitching 2 scoreless innings to close it out, including Craig Kimbrel striking out the side in the 9th for his first save of the young year.

Game 3: BOS-3, TB-2

(Photo credit: ESPN)

Xander Bogaerts continued his hot start by knocking a solo home run in the 2nd, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. The next run came in the top of the 4th. Hanley Ramirez led off the inning with a double to left. Martinez and Bogaerts were both retired and Moreland was walked as Ramirez stole 3rd. Hanley came home via a throwing error on Nunez’s grounder to third.

Martinez collected his first hit of the year to lead off the 6th, and Bogaerts drove him home immediately after with a double himself. Porcello’s lone blemish came in the bottom half of the 6th. Gomez led off with a double and then Duffy singled, moving Gomez to third and chasing Porcello from the game. Heath Hembree came on in relief and allowed a sacrifice fly, accounting for Tampa’s first run (attributed to Kelly).

After a scoreless 1.5 innings, Gomez led off the bottom of the 8th with a solo shot off of Bobby Poyner to make it 3-2, but Poyner and Carson Smith worked clean innings the rest of the way to get to Kimbrel, who closed out the 9th.

Game 4: BOS-2, TB-1

(Photo credit: ESPN)

Hector Velasquez took the mound in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz and handled himself like a seasoned pro. Aside from allowing a home run in the 2nd, he went scoreless in his 5.2 innings.

The Red Sox got on the board in the 5th when Betts singled to lead off, Devers walked, making it 1st and 2nd, and then Martinez drove Betts home with a single to left.

Boston followed up in the 6th with another run. Devers drove home JBJ with a two-out single, giving the Red Sox the lead.

Marcus Walden, like Bobby Poyner the night before, made his MLB debut. He combined with Poyner, Matt Barnes, and Joe Kelly to throw 3.1 scoreless inning in relief (1.1 himself), limiting the Rays to just 3 hits combined on the way to Boston’s 3rd win of 2018.

Takeaways:

-Sale was solid in his first start. A good sign for a pitcher seemingly easing his way into the season.

-Price was brilliant. If he can continue pitching like that it’s going to be a tough year for opposing hitters.

-Porcello impressed in his season debut. The rotation is looking very solid so far.

-Red Sox starting pitching went 24 IP, 16 hits, 2 ER’s. That’s quite the foundation to lay for the season.

-There appears to be strict pitch counts imposed on the arms to begin the year. We’ll see how long those last as guys begin transitioning into midseason form.

-Bogaerts hit 5 doubles and a HR this series. It looks like his “ground ball issues” from last year could be past him.

-Nunez hustled his ass off. An inside-the-park home run and legging out a single by sliding into 1st shows heart and competitive fire.

-While the pitching looks to be operating in stride already, the bats were pretty cold throughout the series. It may take a few series for them to to get going.

-It was really good to see Kimbrel out there in the 9th (twice) after the emotional offseason he went through with his daughter’s illness.

-Every single player on the roster (minus 5th starter Brian Johnson) made at least one appearance. I expect to see a lot of rotation in this squad throughout the year.

-The feel good stories of the Spring continued, as Bobby Poyner and Marcus Walden both made their MLB debuts, retiring 6 of the 8 batters they collectively faced.

-Matt Barnes looks REALLY good so far.

-It seems that aside from Kimbrel being the closer, the bullpen really doesn’t have specific roles assigned to any one player. That’s something that Cora said would be the case this year, and it appears he wasn’t lying.

-Taking 3 of 4 against lesser teams like TB is a trend that MUST continue if Boston is to compete for another AL East title.

-Lastly, probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far is that Alex Cora is going to manage how he sees fit, despite what the Boston media/fan base may feel or say.

(Header photo credit: The Berkshire Eagle)

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