Red Sox vs. Pirates: Three final thoughts

Feb 27, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Chris Young (30) doubles during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Chris Young (30) doubles during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox traveled to Bradenton, Florida to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park.

The Red Sox struggled to produce offensively in this one, dropping the game 3-2. Hector Velazquez took the mound for the Sox, and couldn’t replicate the success he had in his first Spring Training start. With the loss, the club’s record has now fallen to 3-6 this spring.

Hector Velazquez hit hard in his second spring start

Today’s start did not go as well as his debut just five days ago. He was hit hard, giving up three runs on six hits, across three innings pitched. After setting the Pirates down in order in the bottom of the first, Velazquez struggled to spot his fastball over the remainder of his start. He walked Bucs left fielder Gregory Polanco on four pitches to start the second, then gave up an RBI single to David Freese on a fastball over the heart of the plate that he lined center field two batters later. Jose Osuna would collect another RBI single before he could end the inning.

Vazquez’s struggles continued into the third when he continued to miss his spots against the top of the Pirates’ order. Josh Harrison ad Starling Marte collected hard-hit singles before Andrew McCutchen hit a deep sac fly to right that scored the Bucs’ third run of the afternoon.

Fortunately, all of the hits he allowed were singles. Velazquez particularly struggled with fastball location – missing the outside corner against righties and leaving it over the middle of the plate that hurt him on several occasions. As a pitcher that won’t blow anyone away with his stuff or velocity, finesse will be the key to his success during his career.

Chris Young shows why he should be in the lineup against lefties

Young provided Velazquez with all of the offensive support in this one, crushing a two-run homer to deep left field that scored Junior Lake. As we’ve come to expect, Young continues to rake against left-handed pitching. He hit 329/.410/.589 against southpaws last season, good for a 135 OPS+. With the versatility the Sox have at DH this season, it’s hard to see any reason why Young won’t get the opportunity to start on days when the other team sends a left-hander to the mound.

He ended up going 1-for-3 on the day and is hitting .455 with a 1.409 OPS this spring.

The bats fell back to earth

The Red Sox couldn’t muster anything offensively in this one. They put up 28 runs over the previous two days, fueled by a 19-2 thrashing of the Rays on Thursday and a 9-1 victory over Braves yesterday. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. They managed to collect just four hits off of the Pirates pitchers. Blake Swihart singled with one out in the fourth inning and was the last Red Sox batter to hit safely in the game. Rafael Devers came close in the ninth, reaching on a ball hit between the shortstop and third baseman, only to have the play scored an error.

To be fair, there weren’t many regulars that got playing time today. Among the starting lineup, only Brock Holt, Chris Young, Jackie Bradley, and Pablo Sandoval are expected to get consistent playing time this season. Regardless, the Red Sox offense was anemic for the majority of the game.

Side notes

  • Joe Kelly tight-roped out of the fourth inning, giving up two walks and a couple wild pitches but keeping the Pirates off the board
  • Matt Barnes and Fernando Abad each pitched scoreless innings, allowing just one hit between the two of them
  • Hector Meneses made a great diving grab in foul territory behind first base after coming in as a defensive replacement

Next: David Price and his road to recovery

The Red Sox play the Braves next, hosting them at Jet Blue Park tomorrow at 1:05 PM ET. The game will be broadcast on NESN.