Red Sox

Red Sox rally in ninth to beat Mariners, 7-6, but about that starting pitching...

Red Sox rally in ninth to beat Mariners, 7-6, but about that starting pitching...

SEATTLE - It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox found a way to claw back and win their first game of the season on Friday night. 

They did it behind a lineup that saved them more than a few times in 2018 and a bullpen that was expected to be their downfall. 

After starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed six runs on six hits including three home runs, the bullpen shut out the Mariners over the final four frames.

“We know we can do it,” Alex Cora said. “When we stay in the zone we are very dangerous.”

Mitch Moreland’s pinch-hit, three-run home run helped propel the win.

“We gotta get that first one out of the way,” Moreland said. “Now we got that done, now we can roll.”

Oh, and we finally know who Alex Cora picked to close out games. At least for one night. 

Welcome to the ninth inning, Matt Barnes. 

“You don’t want to be the guy to give it up,” said Barnes. “So I was just locked in, trying to do my job and put up a zero.”

Still, for the better part of eight innings, the storyline wasn’t the comeback. 

For the second game in a row, the starting pitcher put the Sox in a hole. And for the second game in a row, commanding the strike zone was an issue. 

“I have to do a better job of executing when I’m ahead in the count,” said Eovaldi.

Manager Alex Cora appeared perplexed and searching for answers.

“It was strange," Cora said. "We’ll dig into it and go from there.”

Strange indeed.

In two games this season Red Sox pitchers have allowed 18 runs, 13 of those off starters Chris Sale and Eovaldi. 

Even more concerning than the run total is the number of home runs the Mariners have hit. Seattle has hit eight home runs in the first ten innings against the Red Sox. Six of those were off Sale and Eovaldi.

It took 11 games last year for the opposition to knock as many balls out of the park. The Red Sox didn’t give up eight home runs until the 11th of April.

Alex Cora has said from the start the team has a plan. They will bring pitchers along slowly, aiming for peak performance in September and October, not March and April. 

The problem? This was the same plan of attack last season and the team jumped out to a 9-1 start. 

The first loss of the 2018 season also came on Opening Day, but it wasn’t the fault of the Sale, who started that opener as well. The bullpen blew that one and then settled in. 

The poor early performances prompt a number of questions. 

Is Chris Sale healthy? 

(On Friday Cora repeatedly said the lefty is fine.)

Which Nathan Eovaldi did the Red Sox sign to a four year, $67.5 million dollar deal? The one who was nails in the postseason or the guy who has only finished two seasons with an ERA under 4.00? 

(My best guess is the latter.)

Is the slow start due to a slow build-up? Or did the Sox make a colossal mistake by choosing Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart over game-calling favorite Sandy Leon? 

(My best guess is the former.)

The offense saved the game on Friday and helped stave off the questions surrounding starting pitching, but that won’t last long. 
 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

The Boston Red Sox may be trying to cut some payroll this offseason, but that isn't going to stop them from targeting some free agents. And that may include one of their own.

According to Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald, the Red Sox are having talks with Rick Porcello about a potential reunion. While the Red Sox may be interested in Porcello, Mastrodonato wrote that "it's unclear how aggressive the Red Sox will be in their pursuit."

He also noted that a short-term, incentive-based contract may make sense for both sides.

Porcello, soon to be 31, has spent the past five seasons with the Red Sox after being acquired in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier. He won the Cy Young Award in his second year with the team, 2016, but he has had issues in the seasons since that campaign.

In 2019, Porcello endured his worst campaign as a pro, logging a career-worst 5.52 ERA and 7.4 K/9, his worst mark since joining the Red Sox. Still, he posted a 14-12 record and still profiles as a solid back-end starter because of his ability to eat innings.

We'll soon see if the Red Sox end up being involved in the Porcello sweepstakes. If they are involved, they will have competition and may find themselves facing off with the likes of the New York Mets, who reportedly have an interest in Porcello.

Where Porcello ranks among the MLB's top 10 free agent starting pitchers>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.