Baseball Season Is Finally Here!
The Red Sox started their 2018 season winning three of four over Tampa Bay at the Trop. The very first game however did give us some scares. Chris Sale came out a dominated (as usual) going 6 innings, striking out 9, and only allowing one hit. Sale left with a four run lead and expecting the bullpen not to screw it up. Matt Barnes came in and was lights out in the 7th inning. Then the scary part happened. An atrocious 6 run inning was allowed by Joe Kelly and Carson Smith. Joe Kelly couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn on opening day and Carson Smith pretty much threw BP to the Rays which lead to a Denard Span bases clearing triple. Many questioned why not bring in Kimbrell to get out of the jam? I don’t blame Cora for not using Kimbrell in that situation. Do you really want to use him for more than three outs on opening day after he missed some time this spring?
(Photo Courtesy: AP)
David Price Shines In His Season Opener
David Price was the David Price of old in his season debut. He went seven innings striking out 5 and not allowing a run on 79 pitches. He had complete control and confidence over his pitches and the zero walks allowed proved that. Rafael Devers drove in the games only run in the seventh with an RBI single knocking in Bogaerts from second. Speaking of Bogaerts, he was absolutely raking in this series. He hit five doubles and a dinger and was hitting the ball hard. I hope to see this Xander all year long. As for pitching, the bullpen stepped up big time. Barnes came in the game in the 8th walking one and striking out one to hold the one run lead and Kimbrell came in and just blew everyone out of the park fanning all three batters. More importantly though, this was Alex Cora’s first win as a manager.
Winning Ways Continue
The Sox took games three and four winning 3-2 and 2-1. Rick Porcello went five and a third striking out 4 allowing one run on 59 pitches. Even though they went an abysmal 1-12 with RISP, they still squeaked out the one run win. The final game of the series was the real bullpen test. No Kimbrell, as he worked in two straight games, they had to find another closer. Many thought Matt Barnes was the guy because of how stellar he was in the first two games. But, Cora showed faith in Joe Kelly to get the save. It had some ups and downs when he gave up two hits but in the end he was able to pull it off with a strikeout of Denard Span. Hector Valazquez was stunning going five and two thirds striking out 5 allowing just one run on 58 pitches.
Starting Pitching Dominates
During the four game series, all four starters allowed one run or less. Alex Cora said:
“Our starting pitching have done an outstanding job. It was amazing. Outstanding. We put good at-bats today, squared some balls up. Should’ve scored more runs. As long as the defense is there and we make the plays, we’re going to hang in close games and be able to win.”
This is the area I really think the Red Sox have a leg up on many in the league. Granted it’s only four games in and the Rays aren’t really that good, it’s good to see that the starting pitching so far is up to snuff. As for their next opponent, the Miami Marlins, I’m expecting a two game sweep with Brian Johnson and Chris Sale taking the mound in the quick series. The Red Sox will have a day off before coming home to Fenway to open up their home schedule vs. the Rays.
–Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)