Skip to main content

Boston Red Sox continue hot start as Kenley Jansen moves up saves leaderboard

Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — The Boston Red Sox are 5-2 to begin the 2024 campaign after splitting a four-game series with the Mariners in Seattle, and sweeping the A’s in Oakland in potentially the team’s final visit ever to the East Bay. Monday’s opener in Oakland was a laugher that resulted in a 9-0 victory, but the Sox followed that up with a couple of tight one-run wins the next two days.

Kenley Jansen has been the one shutting the door for the Sox this season, but Boston’s relievers hold a cumulative 1.03 ERA through 26.1 innings in the first seven games. Chris Martin has made 24 straight scoreless appearances dating back to July 30 of last season, covering 23 innings.

Their starters have also been among the tops in baseball to begin the year with a cumulative 1.89 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. The pitching staff has combined for a 1.54 ERA, granted one of those series was against a team that won just 50 games a year ago and is 1-6 for just the third time in Oakland history.

Jarren Duran went 9-for-12 with nine singles and four stolen bases on Rickey Henderson Field. The Red Sox have looked good this season. And with Duran at the top of the order performing like this, they could end up surprising some people.

Related: 2024 Boston Red Sox team preview

Boston Red Sox star Jarren Duran on his hot start to 2024

Boston Red Sox Jarren Duran against the Oakland Athletics
Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

After a 4-for-4 showing in the series finale, Duran talked a little about how he’s approaching the young season. “I think I’m just trying to keep it simple, you know? I’m not trying to do too much at the plate. I’m just trying to have quality at-bats. I’m not hunting for the results right now. I’m just trying to stay with the process and put good swings on the ball and hopefully good things happen.”

Duran finished the 2023 season with 24 stolen bags, and through seven games he has already accumulated six swipes this season. When asked if this has been a point of emphasis heading into the season, or if it has been opportunities presenting themselves early on, Duran credited the coaching staff.

“I think we just have a really good scouting report right now on what we want from pitchers and stuff and what we see. I think we just have like a really good rhythm going and I’m just trying to capitalize on it as much as possible,” Duran told reporters in Oakland.

The Red Sox said that he doesn’t have a stolen base total or any real goals for himself because he doesn’t want to get caught up in his personal numbers. “I don’t want to get caught up in myself, because it’s more about the team than me.”

Last season was a bit of a breakout for Duran. At 26, he finished with a 120 wRC+ (100 is league average), hit .295 with a .346 OBP and eight home runs. The previous year he’d hit .221 with a .283 OBP and a 77 wRC+ in 58 games. Duran said he was going through some mental struggles during the ’22 campaign and the biggest adjustment he made between 2022 and 2023 was just figuring out what helps him best.

Kenley Jansen on saves leaderboard

On Wednesday, Jansen tied seven-time All Star Billy Wagner for saves with his 422nd, placing both of them at sixth all-time. When asked about what it’s like to be tied with Wagner, Jansen was surprised by the news.

He answered the reporter’s question with a question of his own. “Who’s next?” After being told that it’s K-Rod, he replied, “that’s nice” in a way that suggested that he is impressed with the company his statistics are keeping. Technically, there is one more player to go before he gets to K-Rod (who is ranked fourth), and that’s John Franco at 424, two ahead of Jansen. K-Rod finished his career with 437.

“I think it’s awesome to tie a guy like that, Billy Wagner. That’s something that should motivate you. He’s probably the best lefty closer who did it.”

At 36 years old, Kenley Jansen is on the back-end of his career. These days, he just trying to stay in the moment and have some fun while he’s still playing while also locking down wins at the back of the Boston bullpen. “God blessed me with another to be in the big leagues. It’s awesome.”

While his stuff in Oakland wasn’t exactly fine-tuned, it was enough to get the job done. “Keeps you humble, man. Nothing in this game is easy. If it is, anybody could play it. I think we just have to get my rhythm going. Spring Training was a little short, but I feel good. The cutter is in a good spot. We just have to figure out how to get ahead in the count and we’ll be good.”

Related: Boston Red Sox standing in Sportsnaut’s MLB power rankings

Ceddanne Rafaela catches everything, including our attention

Boston Red Sox Ceddanne Rafaela
Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox centerfielder Ceddanne Rafaela made an outstanding catch in extra innings on Tuesday night, that potentially saved the victory, and later the sweep, for Boston. With the ghost runner on second base to start the bottom of the 11th, A’s catcher Shea Langeliers launched a ball to center at 103.6 off the bat that also had an xBA (expected batting average) of .830.

Never tell Rafaela the odds.

The 23-year-old, positioned in left-center, ranged all the way to right-center to make the grab and take extra bases away from the A’s backstop. He made another leaping catch at the wall on Wednesday.

After the series sweep, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about Rafaela’s ceiling. He smiled, then said, “Gold Glove.”

Mentioned in this article:

More About: