Red Sox thoughts & reactions: Even Hector Velazquez is dominant

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 1: Pitcher Hector Velazquez
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 1: Pitcher Hector Velazquez /

Despite losing on Opening Day, the Boston Red Sox starters shut down the Tampa Bay Rays in the four-game series to start the season.

If the Boston Red Sox are going to compete with the New York Yankees, it is going to be due to their starting rotation.  It will come by matching muscles with the murders row of the Pinstripe’s lineup.

And, as long as the bullpen doesn’t make Thursday afternoon’s collapse a common trend, the Red Sox should go into most game with a very good chance to win.  Chris Sale continued his dominance, a “mad at the world” version of David Price followed with a stellar outing, then Rick Porcello followed that up looking more like the pitcher he was in 2016.  And then there was Hector Velazquez.

Before you go and run to google his name.  Velazquez was the 28-year-old rookie the team signed from the Mexican League who was mainly just a depth arm at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Due to injuries to Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and the Steven Wright suspension, the now 29-year-old found himself starting the fourth game of the season.

Well, he continued where Sale, Price and Porcello left off.  Throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits, Velazquez led the Red Sox to a 2-1 win.

A tale of four starters

It was just against a very mediocre Rays lineup, but they are still major league hitters.  Therefore, Velazquez wrapped up a historic 24 innings by Red Sox starters.  In all, they only allowed two earned runs in the four games.  Most importantly, they appear to have confidence and command of the mound.

Related Story: When David Price is right, he’s dominant

Whether it is just a one game delight or something that will continue all season, Hector Velazquez relished his start and performance as a dream come true.

"“Honestly, it’s been a dream,” Velazquez said, via  “I appreciate every day that I get here.  Looking around at all of the teammates I have in this locker room, I see them all as idols.  I feel truly fortunate to be here.”More from Chowder and Champions3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster DeadlineMLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 SeasonRed Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win"

The Red Sox are fortunate to have another arm capable of starting a game.  When Pomeranz, Rodriguez and Wright do return, the team will have the sort of depth that just may carry them a long, long way.

Joe Kelly bounces back

 As impressive as Hector Velazquez was in his start, the Red Sox bullpen was just as impressive in Sunday’s win.

Following an Opening Day disaster by the bullpen, Alex Cora got solid performances by 29-year-old rookie Marcus Walden, lefty Bobby Poyner, Matt Barnes and a very motivated Joe Kelly.

After wasting Chris Sale’s solid performance by giving up four runs in the eighth inning of the first game, Kelly bounced back with a scoreless ninth inning Sunday afternoon to record his first save of the season.

Momentarily, the one-inning outing restored little confidence in him.  It may take a few more of those outings for Red Sox fans not to have heart palpitations when he enters a close game.

Next: Boston Red Sox 2018: Riding the arms of the bullpen

Yeah, that Opening Day loss still stings even with the Boston Red Sox starting the season 3-1.