With the early light schedule, the Red Sox had to hope to bank some wins. Instead, the Sox were let down, yet again, by rough starting pitching Monday night, dropping the first game of a new series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-7.
Kutter Crawford, who enjoyed a solid spring, was accountable after the game, but far from effective during the game. Crawford allowed three quick runs in the first on four hits and a walk. His teammates answered right back with five runs in the bottom of the frame, including three home runs, the first of the season for Triston Casas, Rafael Devers, and Masataka Yoshida, for a 5-3 lead.
But Pittsburgh chipped away over the next three innings, with Crawford allowing a home run from Bryan Reynolds, from light-hitting catcher Jason Delay, and then another from Reynolds before being lifted. Would Boston cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the sixth inning with an RBI from Adam Duvall that scored Alex Verdugo.
In all, Crawford was charged with seven earned runs over four innings of work.
Offense and relief are highlights
When it comes to offense production and relief pitching, the off-season work put in by the Sox front office appears to have been well spent.
For a second game in a row, the bullpen was solid. Zack Kelly, Richard Bleier, Kaleb Ort and Ryan Brasier combined for 5.0 shutout inning. Over the last 15.0 innings, Sox relievers have allowed three earned runs.
Boston batters, meanwhile, have put up six or more runs in each of the first four games of the season for the first time since 2016. The only longer stretch in franchise history was the five games to start the 1985 campaign.
Including 11 hits Monday, the 47 hits amassed to date is tied for 6th-most ever by the Red Sox over the first four games of a season. It’s the most since 48 hits of the first four of the 2018 season.
But perhaps most surprisingly, it’s the starting pitching that’s been the biggest letdown. Tanner Houck made it to the fifth inning on Sunday, but Corey Kluber, Chris Sale and Crawford couldn’t get past four. There’s little question, the Sox desperately need Brayan Bello and Garrett Whitlock back from the Injured List as soon as possible.
The 30 runs allowed by Sox pitching through their first four games of 2023 ties for the fourth-most allowed in franchise history after 1977 (36), 1950 (36), and 2019 (34).
Notes from the game
Adam Duvall, batting .588 after Monday, continues to impress at the plate, going to 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. That’s nine RBI over the first four games of the season for Duvall, tied for most ever by a Sox batter in his first four games with the team (also Will Middlebrooks in 2012 and Arquimedez Pozo in 1996).
Duvall has now reached base 13 times over his first four games, the most times on base over any player’s first four games with the club, surpassing the previous record by Morgan Burkhart (12 TOB) in 2000.
The Red Sox are the only American League team to have three players homer in multiple games so far in 2023. The only other Major League team to do that is the Braves.