|Connelly’s Top Ten: The Countdown is on!||NBA All-Star Game Starters Announced, Illustrate Flawed Selection Process||Video: Bill Belichick Deflate-Gate Press Conference||The National Media is to Blame for Deflategate Outrage|
After sweeping both Northeastern and BC, the Boston Red Sox faced off against their first major league foe of spring training, the Minnesota Twins. Josh Beckett took the mound for this game, giving an early sign as to who might be at the top of the Red Sox starting rotation. The Red Sox got a good performance out of their starter and some timely hitting, giving them the victory, 2-1. It was the first step in the annual battle for the coveted Fort Myers cup.
The best hitter of the night by far was Dustin Pedroia. He had two hits on the night and an RBI. Other big hitters were Josh Reddick (two hits and a run scored) and Mark Wagner, who drove in the winning RBI in the 8th inning.
Josh Beckett went two strong innings, giving up a run in the first but none in the second. What followed was an ungodly performance from the Red Sox bullpen. The bullpen went seven strong innings, giving up only two hits and striking out three. Daniel Bard had the single best inning of work. He set down the batters he faced in order 1-2-3, including striking one of them out. The winning pitcher was Scott Atchinson, while the save went to Joe Nelson. Though early in the season, the bullpen made a statement tonight: we’re ready, so come and get us.
There are still many questions about this Red Sox team, and no matter how well a Grapefruit League game goes, it’s not going to answer all of them. Some of our questions seem to have been answered. The starting rotation should be fine. They have a plethora of pitchers, and one inevitably goes down to injury, so that’s never a bad thing. The bullpen looks like it has the makings of a dominant year, and it looks like it has the depth to survive shorter outings from starting pitchers (which is always a concern with some of our starters).
But, we remain unsure as to where the offense is going to come from this season. Dustin Pedroia certainly seems ready for the season. He is a very hard worker who clearly has spent all off-season making sure he does not skip a beat when it’s time to get back to work. But of the starters, he was the only one to get any hits. In fact, the only other starter to even get on base was Jacoby Ellsbury, who drew a walk. We can get the first part of our lineup on base, but someone’s got to be there to drive them in, and after Thursday’s game, we still don’t know who that’s going to be.
As I said before, this is the very first Grapefruit League game of the season. It’s way to early to be drawing conclusions, making predictions, or worrying. There is still a month of preseason for Boston to figure its lineup and rotation out, and I have no doubt that I will. The most we should draw from this is merely that baseball season has started again and the Boys of Summer will soon be back at Fenway Park. I can already smell the sausages.