Red Sox

Drellich: Red Sox getting the job done before big Astros series

Drellich: Red Sox getting the job done before big Astros series

PHILADELPHIA — There is no complaining allowed the next time the Red Sox bullpen blows a game. None.

Less than 48 hours away from a weekend series with the best team in baseball to this point, the Astros, the Red Sox are playing as well as they have at any point this season. Possibly better. That’s 16 wins in their last 23 games now.


“It all leads back to the bullpen,” Sox manager John Farrell said after a 7-3 victory over the Phillies. “Once we get a lead or keep a game close, they’ve been shutdown.”

This isn’t hyperbole. It’s been 21 1/3 innings since the Sox bullpen last allowed an earned run, and they had even more work to do Wednesday night, 6 1/3 innings.

Even when a shoulder injury forced an early exit for a fill-in starting pitcher, Brian Johnson, the Sox found a way to get it done with the fill-in’s fill-in, Hector Velazquez. 

The righty, formerly of the Mexican League, woke up in the wee hours Wednesday morning and went on his way to meet the team. Velazquez took his time warming up after Johnson was hurt in the third inning, and he took his first major league win in just his second career appearance.

Velazquez may wind up with a start next time through. But from a physical standpoint, the regular relievers can’t keep this up. They can’t and won’t be asked to. But they’ve been a marvel.

“You’re always concerned,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “You monitor how many pitches the guys are throwing and you’re trying to pick spots and best conserve. Robby Scott, that’s three consecutive days for him after we were able to give him a little bit of a breather in the last series. We need deep starts. That goes without saying.”

One more in Philly before the fireworks. The Astros are the bellwether match-up on this three-city road trip. The Phils, whom the Sox play four times in a row between Fenway Park and the two-game series that began Wednesday in Philadelphia, are a stopover. Get in, get out, get where you need to go.

It’s easy to note how terrible the Phillies are, at 21-43. But what are the Sox supposed to do? Precisely what you’ve seen.

Mookie Betts not only homered twice, he made a great diving catch in right field moving toward the line. The final out Wednesday was a Jackie Bradley Jr. trademark sterling catch. Pablo Sandoval looks shaky on routine plays, but, confusingly, he’s had a knack for some great diving stops lately too..

The only other teams in the American League that have more wins than the Sox are the Yankees and Astros.

Betts is rounding back into his MVP-candidate shape, the product of some cage time.

“I’m just putting a lot of work in at this point just trying to trust my abilities and trust the work I put in and just see a couple balls fall,” Betts said. “For us to win is definitely a good feeling — and I’m just happy we did it in under four hours.”

All-around, the Sox look great. They’re playing a poor team, and they should. 

“Each one of the departments on our team is being effective,” Sox manager John Farrell said.

Outside of some strange blunders on the bases, Farrell is right, and how good the Sox have looked lately should not be understated.

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

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Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.