If baseball were a 7 inning game, the Red Sox would be 1-0. Unfortunately for Boston, there are 9. Chris Sale went a full six innings, a decent start for the beginning of the season. He had 9 strikeouts, giving up just one hit and no runs. There was no reason for Cora to keep Sale in any longer, given that this was the first game of the season. Remember last year all the whining about how Sale was strained too much during the regular season, and he was worn down by the time October rolled around? I’m totally fine with pulling Sale after six innings of good baseball in March.
What happened next is also not something I’d pin on Cora. It’s easy to point the finger at the manager, especially one in his first game in that role. The bullpen is not a problem created by Cora, rather one he inherited. Finding a middle reliever is a problem that goes back to last season, and today made it clear it’s still something that needs tweaking. (I’m being nice using the word “tweak”).
After the game, Cora told media that he and Kimbrel agreed prior to the game that the closer would not be used unless it was a clean inning. Kimbrel spent the majority of the preseason in Boston with his young daughter as she underwent her second heart surgery since being born in November. Though he worked out nearly everyday in Boston, he pitched just twice in spring training. Even the most irrational baseball fans can understand and accept this. So even the most irrational baseball fans should understand that he might not be ready to come into a game in the 8th inning, inheriting three runners with 1 one out.
Cora felt confident enough in his bullpen to make this decision, and in his defense I would have too. It’s worth noting that Boston’s bullpen was second in the league last year in ERA (3.15) just behind Cleveland (2.89). It’s not so much that we don’t have the talent, it’s that we haven’t found the right places for said talent. Joe Kelly had a 2.79 ERA as a reliever last season, giving up just 3 homers and striking out 52. I was all in on Joe Kelly out of the pen last season, especially after giving 2.2 solid relief innings in the postseason. Carson Smith appeared in just 8 games last season, but posted an ERA under 2. This spring he had 9 innings of relief, finishing a flat 2.00 ERA and 12 K’s. And not for nothing but we were playing the Tampa Bay Rays. didn’t exactly expect Denard Stan to hit a 3 run triple late in the game.
While I can’t say I’m thrilled the Sox blew a 4-0 lead to open the season, it’s important to remember this is 1 game of 162. Plenty of time to turn things around (I’m mostly talking to myself at this point).
Xander Bogaerts was 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s.
Eduardo Nunez turned on the GAS and scored us 2 runs on a bloop to center.
Chris Sale is still really good.
Joe Kelly has a 108 ERA
–See ya’ll tomorrow for Price day.