Red Sox

First impressions: Porcello's strong start not enough for Red Sox


First impressions: Porcello's strong start not enough for Red Sox

First impressions of the Red Sox 7-4 loss to Minnesota:

Rick Porcello delivered when he put himself in jams -- even if the scoreboard didn’t say so.

Although the Twins earned their first run cleanly, the same can't be said about the other three off of Porcello.

The Twins scored on a hard-hit ball misplayed by Xander Bogaerts in the second, a double-play ball he usually converts. Although the double play can’t be assumed, Porcello got the result he wanted on the pitch -- just not the general outcome.

The righty did the same thing in the sixth, getting a routine grounder to Bogaerts with two outs and runners on first and third. Unfortunately, he and Hanley Ramirez couldn’t make the play, allowing another run to score. And the following batter perfectly placed a blooper, allowing another run to score.

Porcello could’ve easily walked away with one run to his name.

Porcello continues to show that six innings isn’t satisfying.

He’s been labeled an innings-eater, and the Sox’ starter showed he’s a little more than that Sunday.

The righty could’ve easily called it a day after his sixth inning. He’d done his job -- even if the defense wasn’t always there. Plus, the top of the Twins order was due up in the seventh for the fourth time -- dangerous territory for any starting pitcher.

But he went out again in the seventh, held Minnesota scoreless, and was rewarded when the Sox tied the game with three rusn in the top of the eighth.

He got the raw end of the subsequent bullpen battle, but definitely did enough for a typically deadly Red Sox lineup.

The bullpen had another relatively mild day.

Red Sox relievers were called on to perform in a closely contested game, but they didn’t have cover an extensive amount of innings -- like they did in Saturday’s game.

The rest they’ve received over the Minnesota series -- sandwiched by two off days -- will prove helpful when they host the Orioles starting Tuesday.

Boston put pressure on Minnesota all day.

Even though the Red Sox had a low run total by their standard, their leadoff runner reached base six times, constantly forcing the Minnesota pitchers to throw out of the stretch and focus on something besides the batter.

They didn’t take advantage of it often enough, stranding the runner or grounding into the double play in five of those six opportunities. But they constantly put the pressure on the Twins -- and a scuffling team is always bound to. crack when the pressures on.

Chris Young stays hot.

The left fielder has stepped up big for Boston, especially with Travis Shaw and Hanley Ramirez slumping. It seems like he does in fact have significant value.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."