Red Sox vs. Blue Jays: 3 Up, 3 Down for April 5
Usually there isn’t much hype for the Boston Red Sox’s first game against the Toronto Blue Jays, but with John Farrell making his first appearance in Toronto since he left the Canadian organization, there were plenty of storylines.
Aside from Farrell’s return, it marked the first time the Red Sox would face the recently restocked Blue Jays.
The Red Sox managed to go on the road and get their third win of the season.
Here is my "Three Up, Three Down" for Boston's first game against the Blue Jays.
3 Up: John Farrell Stands Strong
With all the hype surrounding John Farrell’s return to Toronto, the Red Sox manager did not hide from the media or even the streets of Toronto.
Rather than taking a car to the Rogers Centre, Farrell walked to the stadium and said the following during the walk (via boston.com):
Surprisingly, a lot of people welcomed me back, and I had a couple of casual conversations on the walk in. It was a good way to come to the ballpark.
However, fans didn’t hold back at the stadium, booing the manager at every opportunity.
Overall Farrell handled the issue head on and with class.
3 Up: Napoli and Middlebrooks Heat Up
As I have said multiple times, with David Ortiz sidelined, the pressure is on Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks to hit for power.
Coming into the game, Napoli and Middlebrooks had failed to hit a double or home run, and the team as a whole had yet to hit a single home run.
The two sluggers woke up, hitting a double and two home runs, propelling the Red Sox to their third win of the season.
3 Up: The Bullpen Saves the Day
Even though Junichi Tazawa missed on a split-fingered fastball that allowed Jose Reyes to tie the game in the seventh inning, the bullpen was one of the main reasons why the Red Sox won.
In four innings of work, the bullpen allowed the one run on three hits and two walks.
The youthful exuberance of 38-year-old Koji Uehara is refreshing for fans used to seeing mild-mannered middle relievers.
The bullpen continues to look like an area of strength for the Red Sox in 2013.
3 Down: Felix Doubront Fails to Go Past the 5th Inning
Aside from Clay Buchholz’s strong seven-inning performance in the second game of the season, Red Sox starters have failed to go into the sixth inning.
Felix Doubront continued the concerning trend last night, as he allowed three earned runs in five innings of work.
The one positive was that Doubront seemed to be in control—after he allowed 71 walks in just 161 innings last year, that is a good sign.
Even though the bullpen looks strong, the last thing the Red Sox need to do is lean heavily on the relievers this early in the season.
3 Down: Daniel Nava Provided Little-to-No Offense
After a strong debut in which he went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored, Daniel Nava did little at the plate against the Blue Jays.
Nava went 1-for-4, which isn’t horrendous, but he only saw eight pitches in four at-bats after seeing 19 pitches in five plate appearances against the Yankees.
Nava is going to be a platoon player in 2013, especially if Jackie Bradley Jr. is the everyday left fielder, so expectations are low. However, with that said, when Nava plays, he needs to have good at-bats.
3 Down: Salty Continues to Strikeout
After two strong games to start the season, the old Jarrod Saltalamacchia showed up in Toronto last night.
In five at-bats, Salty struck out three times as he batted in the five spot.
2013 was an up-and-down season for Saltalamacchia. The 27-year-old catcher hit 25 home runs, but he also struck out 139 times in 121 games.
The Red Sox need Salty to lower those strikeout numbers in 2013.