Duel identity tonight at Fenway

761586.jpg

Duel identity tonight at Fenway

If the weather holds off, we're set for a somewhat surprising pitching duel tonight at Fenway.

Well, there's nothing surprising about the first guy. I've been waiting to see Stephen Strasburg pitch in person for as long as I can remember. Okay, maybe just three years, but between the anticipation that's built since the moment he was drafted, the year off on account of Tommy John surgery and the fact that he's in the National League, there's a special level of excitement surrounding Strasburg's Fenway debut.

He's one of the game best young pitchers, and has lived up to his lofty expectations - save for the surgery - about as well as you could have imagined. He comes into tonight's game with a career record of 12-5 with a 2.46 ERA, a ridiculous 1.01 WHIP, 195 K's and only 36 walks. Aye aye aye.

But it's the emergence of his counterpart in tonight's game that's caught most of us off guard: Felix "The Cat" Doubront. (There's nothing official about that nickname. I just feel like everyone named Felix should naturally be nicknamed "The Cat").

Doubront (who turns 25 in October) is only one year younger than Strasburg, and while he hasn't (and understandably so) reached Stras' level of dominance, the Cat has been so much better so much faster than any Red Sox fan could have imagined.

Coming into tonight, Doubront is tied with Clay Buchholz for the best record on the Sox staff at 6-2. But unlike Clay (excluding last night), Doubront has actually earned his stripes. He's the lone starter with a sub-4.00 ERA (3.75) and leads the team with 66 strikeouts. He's helped soften the affects of Daniel Bard's inconsistency. He's given the Sox an important second lefty arm in the rotation. And if the top three guys can ever consistently get it together, Doubront will become one of the deadliest fourth starters in baseball.

Tonight, he goes toe-to-toe with one of the best pitchers. Period. It should be a lot fun.

Assuming Mother Nature doesn't creep along and snatch it all away.

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

red_sox_mookie_betts_032817.jpg

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.