Red Sox vs. Orioles observations: J.D. Martinez the only bright spot in Sox lineup

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Justin Leger
·3 min read
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J.D. Martinez the only bright spot in struggling Sox lineup originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The first series of the 2021 Boston Red Sox season has come to a close, and what a disastrous opening series it was.

After dropping Games 1 and 2 vs. the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox were blown out in Sunday's finale, 11-3. Boston's bats once again went quiet, and this time the pitching wasn't a plus as Garrett Richards and Josh Taylor allowed 10 runs in the first three innings.

Tomase: From sneaky good to sneaky gross, Sox season already a disaster

Here are a few quick observations from the Red Sox loss as they fall to 0-3 on the season:

J.D. Martinez is the only one hitting

Martinez was the lone bright spot in what otherwise was a laugher at Fenway Park. The Red Sox designated hitter belted Boston's first homer of the season while going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Christian Vazquez provided some assistance with a 3-for-4 day, but overall this lineup has been abysmal through the first three games of the campaign.

A little help here?

Martinez in first 3 games

6-12 (.500), 1 HR, 3 RBI

Rest of Sox lineup

9-82 (.110), 0 HR, 2 RBI

Variation

Double

We still have to believe this is simply a slow start and the Red Sox offense will figure it out sooner rather than later. There's too much talent in this lineup for these struggles to last.

As for Martinez, it's encouraging to see the 33-year-old return to form after a down 2020 season and a mostly rough 2021 spring training. Once Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts get going -- and they will -- this Red Sox lineup should return to being one of the game's best.

A rough debut for Garrett Richards

The Red Sox signed veteran right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year, $10 million contract during the offseason to add much-needed depth to the middle of the rotation. He failed his first test on Sunday.

Richards lasted only two innings in his Red Sox debut, allowing six runs on seven hits and walking two O's batters. Three of those runs and four hits were let up in a 31-pitch first inning.

We probably shouldn't hit the panic button on Richards after one start, but his struggles raise a red flag considering Boston's starting pitching issues in 2020. The Red Sox need reliable arms in the rotation after Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi if they're going to have any shot at a winning season. Tanner Houck provided reason for optimism in his start, but Richards' debut gave us a flashback of the mess we witnessed last year.

A promising debut for Garrett Whitlock

It was a tale of two Garretts on Sunday. After Richards struggled, Garrett Whitlock stepped in for his Major League debut and was Boston's best pitcher in the blowout.

Whitlock pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief, allowing three hits and zero runs while striking out five. With that stat line, he made some Red Sox history.

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After the rival New York Yankees left Whitlock unprotected in December's Rule 5 Draft, the Red Sox decided to take a chance on the 24-year-old right-hander. That's looking like a smart move with Whitlock following his impressive showing in spring training with a rock-solid first MLB appearance.