Although seven of the nine opening day starters took the field Monday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox only needed Mookie Betts to defeat Boston College 6-0 in the team’s first game of 2016.
Although against college competition, with the starters only playing a few innings, it is always fun to see the Boston Red Sox playing again after a long fall and winter. While we are not going to read too far into what happened today, it is important to take note of it all because for some, especially the pitchers, these innings will count when evaluations are made at the end of Spring Training. And for others, this was a chance to officially turn the page on last season, which was such a struggle for so many.
The first hit of the 2016 season came in the first inning off the bat of Dustin Pedroia, but the big hit came later from Mookie Betts, who turned on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth inning, driving it well over the left-field wall to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead, which is all they would need.
As for other notable performances, Hanley Ramirez beat out an infield single in his first-at bat and pulled an outside pitch for a double off the wall in his second at-bat. Xander Bogaerts was another starter to get a hit. Pablo Sandoval went 0-2 at the plate, including a strikeout in his last at-bat to end a threat in the third inning. From the prospect ranks, Sam Travis had the best day by far, stroking two doubles in two at-bats.
As for the team’s infield defense, the Red Sox turned a 6-4-3 double-play in the second inning, with Hanley registering his first ever putout at first base. It was one of two putouts for Hanley through his three innings of play. On the other side of the infield, Sandoval struggled to get down far enough to scoop a slow-roller to third-base in the second inning, which elicited select boos from the crowd. Not a good sign at all that he is getting booed this early in Spring Training. Who exactly does that help, Red Sox fans? Do you want him to fail? If so, keep booing him in February.
Steven Wright was the first Red Sox pitcher to take the mound in 2016. Wright, who is in the midst of a battle for the seventh and final spot in the Red Sox bullpen, was excellent in his debut, ending his outing with a final line of 2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K.
The other notable pitchers from the day include Matt Barnes and Pat Light. Barnes is Wright’s primary competition for the final bullpen spot and Pat Light, who is the best bullpen prospect in the Red Sox system, is a dark horse candidate for the final spot. Barnes and Light each pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one batter.
Who was the MVP of the game? Although one may assume this should go to Mookie, whose 3-run HR gave the Red Sox the victory, does that surprise anyone at this point? That’s just Mookie doing Mookie things. To me, the MVP was Hanley Ramirez. After all the criticism he has taken from the Boston media and Red Sox fans, it was encouraging to see him get off on the right foot with two hits and three perfect innings at 1B.
Who was the LVP of the game? For the same reasons Ramirez won the MVP, Pablo Sandoval wins the LVP. Of everyone who played today, Pablo was the only one who needed to, at the very least, hold their own out there. Unfortunately, at both the plate and in the field, he did not help himself, as he left four runners on base and struggled with a defensive play at third.
Whose roster chances were helped most by this game? Steven Wright. His debut could not have gone better. Competing for the final bullpen spot, Wright responded by striking out four batters over two shutout innings.
Whose roster chances were hurt most by this game? Everyone competing with Steven Wright for the final spot in the bullpen.