Red Sox

First Impressions: Red Sox 10, Angels 5


First Impressions: Red Sox 10, Angels 5

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Red Sox' 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

The bottom third of Boston’s lineup led the offensive charge.

Brock Holt and Sandy Leon had a hand in six of Boston’s 10 runs Sunday.

Leon knocked in three runs, scoring twice himself, while Holt also scored two -- one of his runs coming off a Leon hit.

A deep, effective batting order was one of the reasons for Boston’s potent offense earlier in the year. If Holt can bring depth back to the back third like he did before his concussion, the Red Sox could be could be in line for a reawakening.

Sean O’Sullivan gave the Sox exactly what they needed.

The righty wasn’t lights out. He didn’t stifle the Angels lineup. He even got himself into a couple of jams.

But he did exactly what Rick Porcello has been doing for the Red Sox -- giving the offense a legitimate chance to win the game.

There are a few pitchers on this staff that would love to do what O’Sullivan did Sunday: Five innings, four hits, two runs, three walks, two strikeouts.

Maybe he gets the Friday start in Clay Buchholz’s place with the midweek off day coming up.

The Red Sox scoring in the seventh inning was huge.

The offense responded after Junichi Tazawa allowed the Angels to cut the lead in half. Although Boston still had the lead, the Angels had scored in back-to-back innings -- nearly taking over the game’s momentum. The hitters didn't let tham happen.

Matt Barnes has become the clear-cut fourth arm in the Red Sox bullpen.

Although he didn’t strand the inherited runners Sunday, he’s clearly the guy John Farrell is most comfortable with in those situations.

Barnes has a tendency, though to leave his fastball up in the zone, very frequently.

While that can make his 12-to-6 curveball much more effective -- which in turn also makes high fastballs that much harder to hit -- he tends to play with fire, leaving his ball up that much when it’s straight as an arrow.

If his fastball didn’t sit in the high 90s, he’d get in a lot more trouble.

Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to show why he’s the game’s best center fielder.

After one his worst misreads on a batted ball in 2016 Saturday, JBJ was back to his normal self Sunday.

The Gold Glove-caliber center fielder ended the third inning when he tracked down a long fly ball off Yunel Escobar’s bat.

Apparently Jett Bendy thought it was too deep for JBJ -- rounding third base on the fly.

The key to the inning-ending double play, however, was Bradley’s arm.

That’s something Boston hasn’t had in center field recently -- or perhaps you've forgotten Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, to name a few recent CFs with weak arms.

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."