The Red Sox and Blue Jays played 4 1/2 innings before it started raining at Fenway Park and the teams decided to cancel the final exhibition game of the preseason.
Officially, the game will be scrapped, but the Sox were down 2-0 at the time of the cancellation, with the runs coming off a monster home run by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who smashed a hanging curve from Brian Johnson over everything in left field.
Here are the three takeaways of the game:
1. Summer camp flew by.
That’s all, folks. Summer camp is over. The Red Sox are off on Thursday with optional workouts at Fenway Park, where the Sox have to submit their official 30-man roster by noon. Those in the 60-man player pool who don’t make the roster can still be added at another time and will continue to work out at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket to stay sharp in case there’s a need.
With the first two weeks of camp focused on safety, with so much concern about the coronavirus tests and the delays in results making players feel unsafe, it took a while to actually start noticing the baseball being played.
But after three weeks of playing, the Sox are starting to think this season might actually work.
“I do,” said Mitch Moreland. “Obviously we’ve learned a lot. I’ve thrown the ball around so many times (instead of getting a new ball when somebody touches it) and (Roenicke) is yelling at me over there. It’s been little stuff like that we’re trying to learn how to do it, how not to do it. We’ve got to put towels on the rails, little stuff.
“I mean, they’re putting seats where we’re supposed to sit. The staff has done a great job on really keeping it as safe as possible. The setup here has been great. I think the challenge will be going on the road, and everywhere is going to be different, so it’s going to be a learning curve for us everywhere we go. But, it could be worse. We could be in Toronto’s situation.”
The Sox lost three key lefties to the coronavirus — Eduardo Rodriguez, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor — and all are experiencing fatigue and being brought along very slowly to combat that, manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday.
Without their three best lefties, it’s going to be difficult for the Red Sox to compete this season. But they’re happy with the way camp went and fortunate that their players came through it healthy, with the only coronavirus cases original cases that were spotted before they joined the team for workouts.
“You always have questions on whether you’ve done enough to make sure guys are ready,” Roenicke said. “What happens when you have your six weeks in regular spring training, somebody seems to get hurt all the time… It seems like every year one of our starters gets hurt or something happens and you have to figure out in a short time how to get them ready. That’s what we had to do with the whole team. I think we’re in a good place.”
2. RHP Zack Godley looks sharp.
A late signing just before camp ended, Godley was expected to be a flier who could potentially help the Sox with their pitching depth issues. But in his start against a tough Jays’ lineup on Wednesday, he needed just 35 pitches to get through three hitless innings of work.
He doesn’t throw very hard, but his 89-91 mph sinkers were on par with what he threw in Arizona two years ago, when he won 15 games with a 4.74 ERA. He’s not expected to be the savior of the staff, but at this point the Sox are just happy to have a healthy pitcher who can throw strikes and get outs.
“He has real good stuff,” Roenicke said. “His fastball moves. He has a great curveball. It’s just about him throwing strikes and being in the zone.”
They seem content with a questionable pitching staff that lacks top-end arms because the offense is expected to be so dynamic.
Even without Mookie Betts, who signed a long-term extension with the Dodgers and received a lot of texts from his old friends on the Red Sox, the offense is loaded with talent.
“I think everybody is pretty ready to get that going and play in some games that count and have some meaning behind it,” Moreland said. “We’re looking forward to getting out there and opening it up right.”
3. Expanded playoffs could make the Sox-Jays’ matchups mean a whole lot.
Though the Blue Jays still don’t know where they’re going to be playing their home games (they’re scheduled to play their home opener next Wednesday), they should have some good games with the Red Sox this year.
The two teams match up well and will both rely on their young hitters to carry a pitching staff that should be just OK.
But they received good news on Wednesday night when MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that MLB is still trying to expand the playoff pool from 10 to 16 teams this season.
With the season officially kicking off on Thursday, there isn’t much time to finalize a plan, but the expansion of the playoffs would give the Red Sox a much better chance at playing games in October this year. The Jays, too, are considered to be a team on the playoff bubble and will play the Sox 10 times this season.
“If you go 30-30 I guess you have a chance to get in,” Roenicke said. “Maybe you don’t have to have that great start. If there’s a couple more teams in the playoffs, obviously if you can play .500 ball, you’ve got a pretty good chance to get into the playoffs. I don’t want to try to play .500 ball. I don’t think anybody does. But you know you’ve got a better chance if that happens.”