It takes five relievers, but Red Sox bullpen comes through


It takes five relievers, but Red Sox bullpen comes through

BOSTON It was getting to be nail-biting time, with shades of the Red Sox last home game beginning to creep in. A sizable lead late in the game with the opposing team chipping away.

The Red Sox held on, though, for the 11-6 win, getting their record back to .500, at 11-11. Clay Buchholz earned the win, improving his record to 3-1 and slightly lowering his ERA from 8.87 to 8.69.

If there was any cause for concern, though, perhaps it was the need to use five relievers to cover the final 2 13 innings after Buchholzs departure. Facing the team with the worst offense in the American League, the good news is the Sox bullpen did not allow a run.

Junichi Tazawa relieved Buchholz. He faced three batters, but couldnt record an out, giving up a hit to Yoenis Cespedes and hitting Seth Smith (who struck out in his four other plate appearances), loading the bases when Anthony Recker reached on Nick Puntos error.

With the bases loaded, Tazawa was replaced by Vicente Padilla, who pitched one-third of an inning, striking out Daric Barton, looking at a 93-mph fastball to end the seventh.

Scott Atchison started the eighth. He faced four batters, recording one out, giving up two hits and a walk with a strikeout. He was replaced by Franklin Morales, who faced one batter, getting Josh Reddick to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Although it was not a save situation, Alfredo Aceves entered for the ninth. He struck out Cespedes and Smith before giving up a double off the wall in left-center to Recker before getting Barton to pop out to Punto, giving the Sox the win.

Since the bullpen imploded in the Sox last home game -- turning an eight-run lead into a 15-9 loss to the Yankees, when six relievers combined to allow 14 runs in three innings the bullpen has showed remarkable improvement. In the eight games since, it has posted an ERA of 0.94, allowing just two earned runs in 19 13 innings.

Manager Bobby Valentine was not concerned about the pens usage in this game, with a day off coming up and moderate use over the last few games.

Alfredo likes to work and a good day to get him some regular work, Valentine said. Regular works good for him. We have an off-day Thursday. If this was in the middle of a real long stretch, it probably was not a good thing. But, its not the worst thing in the world, thats for sure.

Still, sure outs from the pen are not the worst thing in the world, either.

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.