Red Sox-Rays Series Winners and Losers
Well, that’s more like it. As awful as the Red Sox looked in their opening series against the Orioles, they looked that great against the Rays in a three-game sweep. With an extra-innings nail biter sandwiched between two blowouts, the team’s offense came to life in a huge way in this series, scoring 26 combined runs and collecting 10+ hits in all three games. The pitching looked fantastic as well, allowing only 9 runs over the series. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from the teams sweep of Tampa Bay.
J.D. Martinez: Martinez was basically the entire offense against Baltimore, and although he got some help from his teammates against Tampa, he stayed hot. He collected 5 hits in the series, including 3 doubles and a homer, and became just the third Red Sox player in history (after David Ortiz and the great Faye Throneberry) to have at least one extra-base hit in each of the team’s first six games of a season. He also hit the game winner in the extra-innings win in game two. His slash line through six games is .440/.481/.920/1.401 with 6 doubles and 2 home runs. Lots of Sox fans were worried about J.D. after his disastrous 2020 season, but he’s putting those worries to rest in a hurry.
Christian Vazquez: Vaz has really developed some pop over the last couple of seasons, and he looks to be as powerful as ever in 2021. He also got 5 hits in the Rays series, including 2 homers, one of which tied game two in the bottom of the 9th. Everyone knows about his defense and ability to throw out would-be base-stealers, but his offense is still an underrated aspect of his game. With a .421/.4476/.789/1.266 slash line through six games, Christian looks like one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, to go along with his stellar defense. Also, every home run he hits is an absolute moonshot, which is simply fun to watch.
Pitching: The starting pitching was solid in the first two games against Baltimore, but absolutely imploded in the third game when Garrett Richards did his best to ruin Easter. There was no such implosion in the Rays series. Nick Pivetta went game one, and threw 5 shutout innings allowing only 2 hits. Martin Perez got the start for game two, and allowed 3 hits and 2 runs over 5 more innings. Eovaldi went game three, and was dominant, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings of utter filth. Nasty Nate indeed. The bullpen did its job for the most part, with Matt Barnes in particular looking great. He pitched the 9th and 10th innings in game two, and allowed no baserunners while striking out 4 on only 23 pitches, 19 of which were strikes.
The Shopping Cart Celebration: The Red Sox have decided that they are going to push each other across the dugout in a wheeled cart to celebrate homers. It’s absolutely absurd, and I love it. Whoever thought up the idea is just ridiculous, it makes no sense whatsoever, but it’s entertaining and it’s always great to see the guys having fun while playing the game.
Rafael Devers: Not a whole lot of losers in this series other than the Rays, but Devers only went 2/13 after going hitless against the Orioles. The young third-baseman seemingly always starts slowly, with his stats in the first 20 or so games of the season consistently worse than his stats from thereon out, but it would be nice to see him catch fire earlier in the year in 2021. We know he’s a stud, so it’s not really something to worry about, but it’d be nice to get him going.
Josh Taylor: Taylor wasn’t bad at all. He only threw two innings, the 8th and 9th in game 3, and gave up 1 run on 2 hits. The game was 9-1 when he came in, so his earned run really didn’t matter at all. But it is notable that he can give up a run over two frames and still lower his ERA by 27.00, from 45.00 to 18.00. Dear God that’s awful. It’s obviously early, so pitchers have crazy ERA’s, but it’s confusing that he was the first guy out of the pen in game 3 against the Orioles, charged with keeping the game from getting out-of-hand (he failed tremendously) but was somehow also the guy in mop-up duty in game 3 against the Rays. I prefer him as a mop-up guy, he pretty much just kind of stinks. Maybe unfair to call him a loser in this series in which he did fine, but it is what it is.
What do you guys think? Any winners or losers I missed? Let me know in the comments!