Records Entering Series: BOS (3-1, 1st in AL East), MIA (2-2, 4th in NL East)
The Red Sox swept Miami in this quick, two-game series on the back of more strong starting pitching and some timely hitting. The bats finally showed themselves in game 1, but disappeared again in game 2, and the bullpen blew another lead in the 11th inning of game 2, their second such performance of the young year. They head back to Boston for their first home stand of the year at 5-1 and 1st place in the AL East.
Game 1: BOS-7, MIA-3
(Photo credit: ESPN)
The Boston bats finally came alive in their game 1 win over Miami. 5 Red Sox collected 2 hits each, and Bradley, Jr. (who continues to struggle at the plate) and Johnson were the only starters held hitless.
Anderson homered to right to lead off the Marlins half of the 2nd. The Red Sox responded in the 4th with 3 of their own. Bogaerts legged out a two-out, infield single, followed by an RBI double by Nunez. Bradley walked and was driven home, along with Nunez, by Christian Vazquez, who doubled to left.
Boston added two more in the 5th. Benintendi collected his first hit of the year with a single and was brought home by a Hanley Ramirez laser over the left field wall. Betts then golfed one to left in the 7th, making it 6-1.
Hembree pitched a scoreless 7th for the Sox and was relieved in the 8th by Walden. Walden gave up one run in each of the 8th and 9th, the first on a single and the second on a fielder’s choice. Devers added Boston’s final run in the top of the 9th with a double to center, driving in Ramirez, and the score ended 7-3.
Brian Johnson was strong in a very important start for him, collecting 5 K’s on 82 pitches over 6 innings, allowing just 6 hits and 1 run.
Game 2: BOS-4, MIA-2
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Martinez led off the scoring in the 1st with an RBI single, driving in Benintendi, then Bour tied it up for the Marlins in the 4th by bringing home Andersen with a double. That constituted most of the action in regulation, and the two teams went to extra innings knotted at 1.
The Sox took the lead in the 11th when a Benintendi single drove in Nunez following his one-out double. They were one out from wrapping it up and sending everyone home when Barnes walked Andersen and Bour. Cameron Maybin tied it up with a double to deep left, scoring Andersen and almost Bour, who was thrown out at home attempting to score from first.
After a scoreless 12th, Boston finally put the game to bed in the 13th. Betts singled to center and advanced to 2nd on a Nunez groundout. After Benintendi was intentionally walked, Ramirez stepped to the plate and drove home him and Betts with a double to the gap in left center, making it 4-2 Sox.
Hembree finished it off with his second scoreless inning in the bottom half, giving Boston the win and series sweep.
Chris Sale was effective on the mound, allowing just 1 run over 5 innings, but struggled with his command, especially with his fastball.
Other notable performances include the aforementioned 2 scoreless innings from Hembree, as well as Bobby Poyner and Joe Kelly combining for 3.2 scoreless. Benintendi, Ramirez and Devers collected 2 hits each, with Ramirez leading the team with 2 RBI.
-Johnson stated his case for long-term retention really well with his performance. (Check out the embedded link above for details on his situation).
-Martinez missed a catch in right field in game 2 that would have been fairly routine for Mookie Betts. I know that Martinez really wants to play some outfield this year, but the fact is that he’s a liability compared to the defensive superstars of the “3 B’s.”
-Chris Sale showed that, despite what we might like to think, he is indeed human. He struggled mightily with his stuff and his command in his start (to his standards, at least).
-Aggressiveness on the basepaths can hurt you just as much as it can help you. Devers made a mistake running to third on a ground ball that resulted in the Sox losing a RISP with one out in the 5th. JBJ was also called out attempting to make it home on a ground ball in the 8th. It has been an issue so far this season for Boston.
-We kind of thought/hoped that the offense would start rolling after the 12 hit, 7 run display in game 1, but they struggled again in game 2. They’ve become a mystery to me.
-Joe Kelly makes me REALLY nervous when he’s out there, but he’s now pitched 3 straight scoreless innings, so a tip of the cap is due.
-Specific big names are still struggling to get the bat going. Benintendi and Martinez have just 7 hits combined in 6 games. They need to get it together fast, as we see the Yankees in just 4 more games. Benintendi had two hits and two walks in the last game, though (one being that go-ahead single in the 11th), so maybe that jump starts his year.
-The Boston defense showed its potential for being elite on two separate instances in the 2nd game. JBJ made a highlight reel, fully extended diving catch in center to rob what would have probably been a double. Nunez also got involved with a brilliant fake out. On a Marlins hit and run, he slid over to 2nd base and acted as if the batter had swung and missed, faking the runner out and forcing him into a head first slide, allowing Martinez to double him up at 1st on the fly out.
-I saw a lot of people jump on Matt Barnes last night after blowing the save, but let’s not forget that he had 2.2 scoreless innings before his appearance last night. Let’s all cut him a break.
-Staying on the bullpen, for all the talk about how bad they were following that 6-run implosion on Opening Day, they’ve quietly given up only 4 runs in 20 IP (1.80 ERA) as a group since then. They’re still a little shaky (there’s been more than a few bad pitches/walks), but at the end of the day they’re getting the job done.
-Miami has caught a lot of flak for the offseason they had, but they just split with the Cubs and almost split with the Sox to open the year. Maybe they’re not as bad as we thought.