The Red Sox played the Astros Thursday afternoon and, well, to be honest not a whole hell of a lot happened. They lost 5-0, which is a pretty good indication that there was little in the way of positives, but on the flip side there really wasn’t all that much notable on the negative side either. The game just kind of...happened. It doesn’t help, of course, that the game was not televised. A few notes!
Like I said, there’s not a whole lot to get to in this game so I’m jumping right to the battle update before the bullet points. We’ll start with the rotation battle, and today’s game featured two in that competition. Kyle Hart got the start in this game, and honestly he’s a bit of a longshot to make the rotation on Opening Day. He’s more of a later-in-the-year kinda pitcher. He didn’t help his case today, either. The lefty wasn’t a disaster, to be fair, but he did allow a couple of runs over three innings of work. Outfielder Kyle Tucker was particularly tough on Hart, getting a double and a homer off the Red Sox lefty. Hart also allowed a single and two walks while striking out three.
Brian Johnson also got into this game, and I had him in my last go at an Opening Day roster prediction. The southpaw had been looking good this spring to this point, and while him being off the 40-man roster right now is obviously a hinderance, continued strong performance would make that easy to fix. Unfortunately, he hit a bit of a snag today. His day did start off reasonably well, allowing a double in two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, though, he gave up back-to-back singles to start things off then a double and a walk later to finish his outing without getting out of that inning. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in 2 1?3. He did strike out four. I think it’s notable that not only did Johnson struggle today, but he also seems to be pitching later in games, which generally features more minor-league talent. I’m reconsidering that he could have an inside track for the Opening Day roster.
This game didn’t feature anyone fighting for a bullpen spot, so we’ll move over to the bench. None of Marco Hernández, Tzu-Wei Lin or Jonathan Araúz — the three guys most likely to get the two non-catcher spots open on the bench — played in this game. Hernández was in the original starting lineup but then that got shifted around and he was no longer in. It’s unclear if that was because something was wrong with him or if it was just to get Xander Bogaerts in the field — he was originally pencilled in as the DH but the new lineup had him at shortstop — but that Hernández didn’t even get in as a sub makes this at least a situation worth monitoring.
Finally, behind the plate, Jonathan Lucroy came in off the bench and went 0-2 with a strikeout. I continue to think Kevin Plawecki is the better option for the backup catcher role, and Lucroy continues to do nothing to change my mind. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into these battles that we don’t see beyond the spring training game results.
The Red Sox head out on the road on Friday to take on the Braves for a 1:05 PM ET start. This one will be on ESPN, Boston’s second national TV game of the week.