The Red Sox came to Northport and beat the Braves at home on Monday, 2-1. The Braves were unable to figure out Red Sox starter (and their own former “prospect”) Ryan Weber, and they were unable to capitalize on opportunities they got after Weber departed the game.
As the start of the 2020 baseball season draws near, the candidates for the open spots in the Braves rotation will get longer opportunities to prove themselves as they get stretched out. In his fifth start of the Spring, Felix Hernandez went five solid innings, striking out six, allowing one run on six hits with two walks. It’s looking more and more like the King will be inhabiting the fourth slot in the Braves’ rotation.
Much like Hernandez, Austin Riley runs the risk of being on the outside looking in if he doesn’t perform to his abilities. Luckily, he has also risen to the occasion so far, with Monday being another strong showing for his candidacy as Opening Day third baseman. He went 1-for-2 on the day, and the hit he was credited with was questionable (it was ruled that it hit the ground instead of being a catch), but both balls were struck admirably. When people say Spring Training stats “don’t matter,” it’s not so much that they don’t matter, but more so that process is more important than results.
King Felix worked quickly in the early stages of this game, needing only 18 pitches to complete the first two innings. His control started to waver in the third inning, but he was able to keep the damage to a minimum. He wasn’t so lucky in the fourth inning, however - after starting with a four pitch walk to Jonathan Lucroy, two consecutive opposite field singles from Jose Peraza and Marco Hernandez put the Red Sox ahead, 1-0.
Meanwhile, Weber, whose prospect status with the Braves was always a bit of an enigma, pitched well for the Red Sox, only allowing one hit over four innings while striking out four. Brandon Workman (mercifully) relieved Weber in the bottom of the fifth, and the Braves were able to load the bases with nobody out but failed to score. C’est la vie, I suppose.
Touki Toussaint saw action in his third Spring Training game, and pitched great aside from a rocky start. He walked the leadoff batter, gave up a hit to Jose Peraza, and hit Marco Gonzalez before Rusney Castillo’s RBI groundout put the Sox up 2-0. In subsequent innings, he appeared to right the ship and even managed to string together three straight strikeouts before it was over. He only allowed that one run over his four innings over work, and he retired 11 straight batters to end his evening.
The Braves got one back in the sixth inning with some old school baseball. After getting hit on the foot, Ender Inciarte used a groundout from Ozzie Albies to move to second base. He took third on a passed ball by Kevin Plawecki, then scored on a Freddie Freeman sacrifice fly. Just like that, it was 2-1 Sox. Alas, this is where the scoring would end.