Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the Orioles was a long day for nearly everyone on the Red Sox. But besides Rick Porcello‘s five-walk, four-inning start, the relief effort from Colten Brewer in the sixth was extra grueling.
Brewer, effective this season coming in (.182 batting average against, 1.59 ERA in six appearances), could not retire any of the five batters he faced in the sixth inning. The first four — two walks, two singles — all scored.
“No command of his cutter, he had a good breaking ball going but he was a one-pitch pitcher today, his cutter, very erratic in the zone, he wasn’t able to land it in the strike zone,” manager Alex Cora said. “No hard contact but at the same time a lot of deep counts and when there’s a lot of deep counts and you can’t throw strikes, people start zoning in and looking for pitches and that’s what happens.”
After five games in which Mookie Betts hit leadoff instead of the No. 2 spot, where he had been moved in the offseason, Cora said Betts will stick at No. 2 and that Andrew Benintendi will stay at the leadoff spot.
Betts, last year’s No. 1 hitter, batted leadoff five games in a row on the season-opening West Coast trip. But the return of Steve Pearce to the active roster means Cora does not have to tinker any more.
“Because (right-handed hitting) Pearce is healthy now and we can actually maneuver the game a little bit better — without Pearce in the game, it was tough to have all those lefties all together,” Cora said. “So now, it’s easier to manage, you know?
“It wasn’t about panicking like some people thought. It was about managing the game. You’ve got Mitch (Moreland) hitting third now, you put pressure on them with Pearcey on the bench. You bring the lefty for Benny and you’ve got Mookie. If they leave the lefty for Mookie, it’s to our advantage. If they leave it there, they might bring the righty for Pearce but it’s a good matchup for us anyways.”
“I think we’ll stay here until the end of the season – until we face (Yankees James) Paxton, (Yankees J.A.) Happ and (Tampa Bay’s Blake) Snell this week,” said Cora, who was smiling as he mentioned the possible exception.
Velazquez in line
Hector Velazquez pitched an inning and is on track for a spot start Monday, weather permitting. Cora said Velazquez could be counted upon for “maybe five” innings.
Meanwhile, the headshot put on the Fenway Park scoreboard showed a scowling Velazquez. The previous photo had him smiling, but Velazquez wanted a more serious look. …
Cora did not believe it was newsworthy that Vazquez caught Saturday’s game after Friday night’s game.
“Just (Sunday) is a day game again and Monday is a day game again so somebody had to play this game,” Cora said. “He had a good rhythm (Friday), swung the bat actually well, get him out there and see how it goes tomorrow. Most likely it’s going to be Blake (Swihart) but I think (Vazquez) maneuvered the lineup pretty well yesterday and just decided to go with him.”
Saturday was a planned day off for Jackie Bradley Jr. Betts moved to center field, with J.D. Martinez playing right.
“It’s a better defensive alignment for us than J.D. in left and Benny in center and Mookie in right,” Cora said. …
A return to action for Brian Johnson (left elbow inflammation) remains up in the air.
“Just treatment, no baseball activities, he’s supposed to see a doctor again,” Cora said.
With Johnson out of the equation, Cora named Marcus Walden and Brewer as multi-inning candidates from the bullpen, besides Velazquez.
Cora, mostly a bench player during his Red Sox stint between 2005 and 2008, recalled that a Marathon Monday morning game “was my game, brother, I knew I was playing that game.”
He used to live near Fenway Park and “walking here was interesting because all those bars were open and people were pounding already. Wow! But it’s different. It’s cool.
“It’s a special day. To play baseball in the morning at the big league level, it’s different but it’s cool.”
A year ago the Red Sox had to cancel their Patriots Day game because of bad weather. Monday’s forecast is not so great, either, but recent forecasts have been slightly better, with the rain tapering off mid-morning before returning later in the afternoon, perhaps providing a window the clubs to in the game. …
Vazquez drove in a career-high four runs Saturday with a two-run homer in the third and then a two-run double four innings later. The last Red Sox catcher with four RBI was Sandy Leon in June 2017. The last Red Sox with four RBI from the No. 9 spot was Bradley in June last year. … A bright spot on Porcello’s day: the Orioles went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. He stranded two runners in the first, three in the second and two in the fourth. Otherwise, the loss meant his first such streak since he lost four straight in July 2017.
The Red Sox have allowed seven or more runs in seven of their 15 games this season. When they allow six or fewer runs, their record is 5-3.