Red Sox opener Jhoulys Chacin sets tempo for win over Yankees
By Sean Penney
Jhoulys Chacin set the tempo in his Boston Red Sox debut with a pair of perfect innings to open an eventual victory over the New York Yankees.
It’s not often that you see a pitcher pulled in the midst of a perfect game. Especially after only two innings. That’s the position Jhoulys Chacin found himself in during his first appearance with the Boston Red Sox.
To be clear, this was always the plan. Chacin hadn’t pitched in a game since July 24 with the Milwaukee Brewers. It would have been unreasonable to expect a starter’s workload out of the gate so the Red Sox had every intention of using Chacin as the opener for a bullpen game.
They couldn’t be certain that Chacin would even give them two quality innings after missing over a month but he showed no signs of rust in his return to the mound. Chacin was sharp in his Red Sox debut, retiring all six batters he faced. He struck out four and induced a pair of harmless ground balls to the left side of the infield.
"“He hasn’t pitched in a while, he did a good job. He put us in a good spot,” manager Alex Cora told reporters, per NESN. “He did an outstanding job moving the ball around. Fastball command was good, slider was good, it’s a different look, it’s not North-South, it’s East-West and he is expanding. He has done it before. He has pitched in big games and he was an Opening Day starter. He’s an accomplished big leaguer and he set the tempo for us right away.”"
Boston’s bullpen combined to toss seven innings while allowing only one run on three hits. It was an impressive collaborative effort by the Red Sox pitching staff but it was Chacin who set the tempo from the start. The game plays out differently if Chacin falls behind early, forcing the Red Sox to rally rather than hold on to a lead.
Six relievers were used to cover the final seven innings. None of the Red Sox pitchers faced more than eight batters, which means they never saw the same hitter twice. This helped keep the Yankees off balance throughout the game as Cora threw a mix of different styles at their powerful lineup.
This contrasts with New York’s approach in which they went with a traditional starter in Domingo German. The right-hander has a share of the league-lead with 17 wins and the Yankees had every intention of giving him a shot at adding to that total. It didn’t happen.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
German was cruising along through the first few innings, striking out the side in the first and allowing only a pair of walks through three scoreless frames. He ran into trouble the second time through the order. Boston tagged him for four runs in the fourth, including a three-run blast down the right field line by Mitch Moreland.
A one-out walk drawn by Mookie Betts in his third time facing German chased the Yankees starter from the game. He didn’t make it out of the fifth inning before Yankees manager Aaron Boone decided he didn’t want his starter making another trip through this lineup.
Hitters tend to gain an advantage the more they see a pitcher. After a plate appearance or two, they have a solid idea of what that pitcher throws, how well he’s throwing it and how he plans to attack them. The Red Sox lineup got to German after each of their hitters had a good look at him. Boston wouldn’t give their foes the same advantage.
It’s not a practical strategy to use all season long – a true workhorse starting pitcher will never go out of style. When September roster expansion allows you to cram 17 relievers into your bullpen, the strategy is easy to use. The Red Sox will turn to another bullpen game on Saturday. Let’s hope it works just as well this time.