Red Sox notebook: Zack Godley looks to build on success in first start vs. Yankees

The Red Sox picked up Zack Godley as a flyer for their depleted pitching staff, and if his Boston debut is any indication, they’re hoping they can catch some lightning in a bottle with their new right-hander.

At this point, the back end of their rotation has nothing to lose.

Godley will make his first start for the Red Sox on Saturday night against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, looking to build on his impressive debut and possibly keep a spot in the rotation. After signing with the Red Sox as a free agent two weeks ago, Godley made his first appearance in mop-up duty of Monday’s home loss to the Mets, tossing four scoreless innings and striking out seven.

That was enough for him to get a shot Saturday night, when he’ll take the spotlight in the biggest rivalry in baseball against an imposing Yankees lineup.

“It’s exciting,” Godley said. “It’s kind of one of those things where I’m trying to help out the best I can in any way I can. Right now the best way I can do that is to try and get some innings in and try and help us win some ballgames…

“That lineup speaks for itself. They do what they do night in, night out. The biggest thing is trying to get ground balls. Trying to let the defense work. It’s about all you can do. Just try and limit the damage as much as possible and let our guys go to work on the other side.”

Godley’s debut couldn’t have gone much better, and he said he feels good physically. The righty threw 53 pitches Monday, though he said he could have pitched longer, and will hope to extend himself as long as he can on Saturday. His new environment has helped him, and Godley — who has struggled to maintain consistency throughout his career — said he feels like all his pitches have improved.

“I felt a really good rhythm the other day,” Godley said. “The whole atmosphere and everything with this team has been awesome. Communication and everything they have here has been great. They make you feel like you’re right at home when you first come in. That’s huge when you’re coming from another team and just trying to be plugged immediately.”

Chavis finding his swing

It’s been a limited sample size, but after a slow start to the season at the plate, Michael Chavis has begun to get some positive results with his first two hits of 2020 in Thursday’s win before belting a homer Friday against the Yankees. With the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown affecting normalcy followed by a short summer camp, Chavis’ focus is on finding his timing.

“That weird break of going so long without baseball after getting a little warmed up in spring training was definitely a little bit weird,” Chavis said. “Just trying to stay focused on how early it is even though it feels so much later, because it would be so much later in the season normally, so just remembering that, for me, I think I’m 13 at-bats in at this point, just remember where we’re at and stay within the moment and not look down the road too much.”

Chavis didn’t feel any extra pressure that the players he’s platooning with — Mitch Moreland and Jose Peraza — have got off to faster starts than he has.

“When I focus on the team, I tend to play better. Whenever I go out there and I focus on my numbers, or try and focus on my own performance, I just don’t perform well,” Chavis said. “In regards to the platoon aspect, I really don’t feel any pressure because they’re playing well. I’m actually just happy that they’re playing well and they’re swinging it well and we’re working towards winning ballgames. That’s the big goal at the end of everything.”

Benintendi out of lineup

The struggling Andrew Benintendi was on the bench to start Friday’s series opener against the Yankees and left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery. The Red Sox left fielder’s struggles at the plate have continued with a 2-for-29 (.095) showing through the first week, and manager Ron Roenicke preferred Alex Verdugo in his spot because of his success against lefties.

“I’m going to try to, I don’t want to say rotate, but I’m going to try to mix it up a little bit with that one lefthander who sits when we face a lefty,” Roenicke said. “I imagine Benny would be back in there on Sunday against the next lefty. But I’ll keep switching it up. The thing with Verdugo is, because of the history of him being able to hit left-handers, it kind of allows me to think about him being in there more often, but the other guys, I think they’ll trade off, whether it’s a rotation or who’s hot. We’ll try to figure those things out.”

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