Boston Red Sox

Five takeaways from Red Sox' series win over Angels

Boston took two out of three in Anaheim to improve to 7-3 this season.

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The Boston Red Sox wrapped up a successful West Coast road trip with a series win in Anaheim.

Boston took two out of three from the Los Angeles Angels, including Sunday's series finale, to improve to 7-3 on the season. The team returns to Fenway Park just one game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East standings.

The Red Sox' home opener is set for Tuesday at 2:10 p.m. ET against the Baltimore Orioles. It will be a three-game series against the reigning AL East champions.

First, here are five takeaways from the Angels series.

Back to square one at shortstop

Another year, another devastating Trevor Story injury. The Red Sox shortstop suffered a shoulder subluxation in Friday night's game and while the extent of the injury is unclear, it appears he could miss significant time.

Story wasn't lighting it up at the plate but his defense will be sorely missed. The two-time All-Star had stabilized the shortstop spot since returning from elbow surgery last season. When he was sidelined, the Red Sox went through a disastrous defensive stretch at the position with Kiké Hernández and several other fill-ins. That's where Boston finds itself again after failing to upgrade its infield defense this past winter.

After placing Story on the 10-day injured list, the Red Sox recalled middle infielder David Hamilton to take his spot on the roster. Hamilton struggled mightily both at the plate and in the field during his brief MLB stint last year. The 26-year-old hit just .121 (4-for-33) and committed two errors in 13 games at shortstop. He isn't a long-term solution at the position, though it's worth noting he belted a solo home run -- the first homer of his big-league career -- in his first at-bat of the year on Sunday.

One option for the Red Sox is moving rookie Ceddanne Rafaela from center field to shortstop. In this scenario, Jarren Duran would move to center with Tyler O'Neill and Wilyer Abreu in the corner outfield spots. Of course, losing Rafaela's elite defense in center field would be less than ideal.

Vaughn Grissom, acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Chris Sale trade, could take over at shortstop when he returns from injury. He was expected to be the team's starting second baseman, but Story's injury may have thrown a wrench into those plans. The middle infield could feature Grissom at short with a combination of Enmanuel Valdez and Pablo Reyes at second.

Regardless of what the Red Sox do with their current roster, the defense will take a major hit without Story on the left side of the infield.

Pitching staff still defying expectations

What was expected to be the Red Sox' weakness has turned out to be a strength thus far in 2024.

Pitching has been the least of Boston's worries through the first 10 games of the campaign. After strong showings in Seattle and Oakland, Red Sox starters stepped up again in Anaheim with just one earned run in 14 innings.

Kutter Crawford allowed one earned run on two hits and three walks in the series opener. The right-hander struck out five Angels hitters in 4.2 innings pitched. It wasn't his most efficient outing, but the defense didn't do him any favors as it tallied three errors. The bullpen stepped up the rest of the way, allowing letting up just one earned run in the 8-6 victory.

Garrett Whitlock took the mound for Game 2 and didn't allow an earned run through 4.1 innings. He allowed four hits and four walks while striking out four. The bullpen handled its business the rest of the way, but a Rafael Devers error was the difference as it allowed both of the Angels' runs to score in the sixth inning, resulting in a 2-1 defeat.

Coming off a gem in Oakland, Tanner Houck doubled down in Anaheim with six scoreless innings of work. The righty allowed four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in a 12-2 win. He has yet to allow a run this season.

Red Sox pitchers currently lead the league in ERA (1.49), WHIP (0.96), and strikeouts (105)... just as we all expected...

Offseason additions look sharp

Tyler O'Neill is the gift that keeps on giving for this Red Sox lineup. Acquired in an under-the-radar deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, the right-handed slugger stayed hot at the plate with three homers in this series, including two in the opener. He went 4-for-7 at the plate with three RBI, two hit-by-pitches, and a walk in the three games.

O'Neill will be even more important to this left-handed-heavy Red Sox lineup with Story sidelined. He's up to five homers on the year.

New chief baseball officer Craig Breslow's other offseason additions didn't make much noise at the time, but they've proven significant for the bullpen. Justin Slaten, acquired from the New York Mets after being taken from the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, has been lights out. The 26-year-old righty struck out five of the six batters he faced in Game 2 against the Angels. He has allowed only one hit with zero walks and no earned runs through the first 5.1 innings of his big-league career.

Right-hander Greg Weissert, acquired from the New York Yankees in the Alex Verdugo deal, still has a 0.00 ERA despite taking the loss on Saturday. Isaiah Campbell, who arrived via Seattle in the Luis Urias deal, struck out the side in the series opener but blew the save in Game 2.

It's far too early to judge Breslow's first offseason in the front office, but the newcomers have played a huge role in the club's encouraging start.

O'Neill, McGuire lead lineup's power surge

The Red Sox notched nine homers in the series -- five in the opener, four in the finale.

O'Neill and the usually light-hitting catcher Reese McGuire combined for five of them. After hitting just one homer in 72 games played last year, McGuire crushed two in Anaheim.

He belted a two-run homer in the first game of the series and a three-run bomb in the rubber match.

Angels pitching had no answer for Boston's scorching offense in Games 1 and 3. O'Neill and Triston Casas hit back-to-back homers in the opener, then Rafael Devers went back-to-back with O'Neill in Sunday's win.

David Hamilton and Jarren Duran contributed the other two homers in the series.

Why is Bobby Dalbec still here?

Dalbec made the Red Sox' Opening Day roster over veteran first baseman C.J. Cron. For whatever reason, the club is still holding on to hope that his Triple-A success can translate to the majors. That's wishful thinking.

Not only has Dalbec gone hitless through five games played, he's looked completely overmatched in each of his at-bats. The 28-year-old has struck out in six of his eight plate appearances.

Perhaps Dalbec can make himself useful with his defensive versatility while Story is out. He could be deployed at shortstop or elsewhere in the infield if necessary.

Besides that, it just doesn't make sense for Dalbec to take up a spot on the big-league roster. He belongs in Worcester, where he hit 33 homers in 114 games last year.

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