Red Sox fall 4-2 in Swihart’s MLB debut
Blake Swihart, after a quick ascension through the upper levels of the minor leagues, is now in Boston, potentially for good. After Ryan Hanigan fractured a knuckle in last night’s game, the Red Sox made the only sensible move, sending Hanigan to the disabled list and promoting their top prospect to the big leagues. Needless to say, all eyes were on Swihart as he made his MLB debut today and though he had a solid performance, going 1-2 with a walk, he was unable to lead the Red Sox to victory.
But while most were focused on Swihart’s MLB debut, there was another huge story in his battery mate Wade Miley. After an awful start last Sunday, in which he allowed 7 earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched, Miley needed to bounce back in a big way today. And though he didn’t dominate the Yankees, he did put together a solid performance and, peripherally, his best start yet with the Red Sox.
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Neither team was able to generate much offense in the early going, with the Yankees drawing first blood in the third inning. That run would come on a one-out RBI double by Brett Gardner (who was thrown out at third attempting a triple), scoring Didi Gregorius from first base.
However, the Red Sox wouldn’t wait too long before tying it up, and they would go on to score a run when Dustin Pedroia lifted a hanging curve onto Lansdowne Street for a solo shot. Singles by David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval set the Red Sox up for a potential rally against Yankees’ starter Nathan Eovaldi but those chances were squandered when Mike Napoli grounded into a double play.
The key blow of the game would come in the next inning as the Yankees started the inning with a pair of hits. New York appeared positioned for a big inning when Gregorius bunted both into scoring position with just one out, but those hopes grew dimmer when Jacoby Ellsbury recorded a weak groundout, which was unable to score a run. But with two strikes and two outs in the inning, Gardner once again gave the Yankees life, lining a two-run single into left field to give them a 3-1 lead.
However, Miley would coast through two more innings and finish his day with a strong, seven-inning performance against the Yankees. He did not walk a batter, a huge improvement over Sunday’s debacle, in which he threw nine consecutive balls at one point, and struck out three.
The Red Sox would offer some more resistance against Eovaldi and the Yankees in the bottom of the seventh, when Blake Swihart walked with two outs. After that walk, Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi pulled Eovaldi from the game, bringing tall right-hander Chris Martin into the action. On just the third pitch that Martin threw, Mookie Betts crushed a heater high off the monster for an RBI double, scoring Swihart from first to cut New York’s lead to 3-2.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox would prove unable to make more inroads on the Yankees bullpen and a Chris Young home run in the ninth would seal Boston’s fate in a 4-2 loss. Even though the Red Sox fell in this game, though, there were certainly positive takeaways in Swihart’s performance both at the plate and behind it as well as with Miley’s improvement. The Red Sox have already lost this series but they’ll look to avoid the sweep and remain over .500 tomorrow night, sending Joe Kelly (1-0, 4.94 ERA) to the hill against Adam Warren (1-1, 4.35 ERA).
- Wade Miley looked sharp today and, aside from a couple key hits from Gardner, could have put forth his best effort of the season. He lowered his ERA to a still-atrocious 7.15 and will look to continue moving in a positive direction.
- Pablo Sandoval entered today’s game with a career 10-14 mark against Yankees’ starter Nathan Eovaldi and, with a 2-3 performance against the right-hander, moves to 12-17. Sandoval has looked good for the Red Sox in the early going and today’s multi-hit game bumped his average up to .329 on the young season.
- Blake Swihart looked composed and impressive in his major league debut, putting together a number of solid at bats, including working a key walk. He also showcased his athleticism, a unique asset for a catcher, beating out an infield hit to the second baseman.
Miley wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination today, but it was still a huge improvement over last Sunday’s disaster. He showcased great command and, with a bit more luck, could have escaped from today’s game with a win. He allowed much less hard contact, generating almost exclusively ground balls, and generally looked like a totally different pitcher.
Layne only faced two batters today, but he recorded a pair of easy groundouts against a couple of the Yankees’ better left-handed bats in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. That’s all you can really ask from the lefty specialist.
Pedroia didn’t do much today aside from crushing a home run, but neither did anyone else, so Pedroia walks away with the game ball. Today’s game continued his trend of hitting the ball hard this year as his bomb today marked his fifth of the season, which is incredible considering that he had just seven all of last season. It looks like vintage Pedroia out there and he’ll hope to keep it going throughout the year.