Three things learned from Red Sox 9-7 loss to Orioles
The offense has been even better than expected -- and it better continue
In five of the six games this season, the Red Sox have scored at least six runs. That's a positive, especially early in the season when hitters aren't yet in a rhythm, pitchers are proverbially ahead of them, and the weather is less than inviting.
The Red Sox are seldom out of games. In four of the six games to date, they've erased leads, including some multiple-run deficits. It happened once in Cleveland, twice in Toronto, and again in the home opener Monday.
That's encouraging, and reveals that the Red Sox' lineup is a deep one, capable of erupting for multiple-run innings at almost any juncture.
Then again, the offense has had to be resilient, because of the holes dug by the pitching staff. Too often, the Red Sox have been behind early. Monday marked the first time all year that they've scored runs in the first inning, but sure enough, two innings, later, the three-spot
they posted in the first was wiped out by a five-run third.
"We continue to fight back,'' said John Farrell. "There's not any at-bats being given way. I like the way we continue to fight inside of a game.''
David Price needs to go deeper into games
In the season opener, Price got through six innings after 103 pitches. In Monday's home opener, he threw the same number of pitches and only finished five frames.
It's early, of course, but Price has to carry the Sox than the fifth or sixth, especially given the way the bullpen has used in the first week. Without Eduardo Rodriguez -- and, for that matter, without Carson Smith to carry some of the relief load -- the Sox have to get more from their ace.
High pitch counts are to be expected for someone who has the strikeout totals that Price posts. Indeed, through two starts, Price has fanned 18 batters in just 11 innings.
But there needs to be some quicker innings in which weak contact is prioritized over strikeouts, so as to get Price into the seventh inning on a regular basis.
Farrell noted before the season opener that one of the many benefits of having an ace is the knowledge that you can frequently lean more on your bullpen both the day before and day after your No. 1 guy starts.
For that to matter, however, Price has to give them more innings.
"I'm not concerned,'' maintained Price on the matter of his efficiency. "It's execution. Whenever I go out there and execute, I can pitch deep into that ballgame. That's definitely something I take pride in and I haven't done in these first two starts, but it's something I look forward to doing in five days.''
The Chris Young obsession needs to be dialed back
In three of the first six games, Farrell has pinch-hit Young for Travis Shaw - twice in the sixth and another time in the seventh - when the opponents have a lefty reliever.
Results to date: gift bloop double; strikeout; infield popup.
That's not to suggest that Young can't help the Sox, or that he's not capable of delivering a big hit in the middle of a game.
But Farrell seems to be forcing the issue in the first week.
For one thing, Shaw had reverse splits last year, with a .975 OPS against lefties and a .723 against lefties. That was, admittedly, a rather small sample size, but it suggests that Shaw is far from helpless against lefties.
For another, it might be better for the Sox to save Young for later in the game. On Monday, Farrell had him leading off an inning, with the Sox trailing by a run.
If there had been runners on base and the threat of a big inning, pinch-hitting Young may have made more sense.
And once he is in the game, he presents a matchup problem in the event that the opponent goes to a righty. At that point, Farrell has the choice of sticking with Young -- .703 OPS against - or turning to Pablo Sandoval, who is currently lost when he's asked to come off the bench and hit.
The fact that Young hasn't had a chance to face an opposing lefty starter in the first six games -- with none scheduled through the rest of this series, either -- is problematic. But trying to force pinch-hit appearances merely to keep involved smacks of early-season desperation.
"It's an aggressive move in the sixth inning,'' acknowledged Farrell. "But the way the wind was blowing, the way the ball was carrying, we're looking for spots for Chris against a lefthander and that was it.''