Yankees made into April Fools by Red Sox in Opening Day blowout
The joke is on the Yankees.
The Red Sox, the team that was the laughing stock of the AL East last season and could not seem to do anything right, came back with a new manager, new lineup and new style on Opening Day 2013 and throttled the rival Yankees, 8-2, at Yankee Stadium Monday afternoon.
The win was a breath of fresh air for all of Red Sox Nation, who could not be blamed if they were expecting the worst Monday. But in a stark departure for what was starting to become the norm in Boston, the Red Sox turned in quite a performance Monday afternoon, knocking in runs, bunting for hits, hustling around the bases and showing a general sense of caring about the game that has been missing at times from this team in recent years.So while it is only Opening Day and the Yankee team the Sox faced is currently decimated by injury, there’s plenty for Red Sox Nation to be happy about after one game of the 2013 season.
The bottom of the lineup: Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jose Iglesias were both key factors offensively for the Red Sox. Iglesias, who earned the start because anticipated starting shortstop Stephen Drew is still out with a concussion, drove in the first run of the game and went 3-for-5. Bradley Jr. walked three times, knocked in a run and scored two of his own. He also made a key catch in deep center to end a Yankee threat which had the speedy Brett Gardner on second base thanks to a wild pitch from starter Jon Lester. An unexpected but early fan-favorite, Bradley Jr. continues to thrill Red Sox fans, and we even had the #JBJforMVP hashtag running on Twitter for a bit Monday afternoon.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Though contract negotiations have made things a bit awkward for Ellsbury and the Red Sox off the field, Ellsbury impressed on the field on Opening Day. He went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and a run scored, and he also recorded his first triple of the season (although the Sox bats failed to take advantage and score him). Ellsbury’s health has been an issue for two of the last three years, as he played just 18 games in 2010 and 74 games in 2012. When he’s healthy, however, he’s very good, and he proved that Monday.
The bullpen: The Boston bullpen has been more like a house of horrors over the last few years, so it was very encouraging to see the Sox relievers dominate on Opening Day. Koji Uehara impressed with his five-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning. Andrew Miller cleaned up his own mess when, after starting the seventh by walking the first two batters, he proceeded to strike out the next two men he faced before manager John Farrell brought in Andrew Bailey, who struck out Kevin Youkilis to end the inning. Junichi Tazawa chipped in with a clean eighth inning, and although the Sox were ahead 8-2 in the ninth, closer Joel Hanrahan finished off the game with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Sick Will Middlebrooks: Sox fans who have followed Spring Training were ready to see some fireworks out of Middlebrooks, but the third baseman had a difficult day Monday, going 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. Don’t get too down on Middlebrooks too soon, though. According to reports, the third baseman was playing with a 102-degree fever and flu-like symptoms. The effort to play is appreciated, but fevers that high are generally a pretty good excuse for sitting out a game.
Stranded runners: Although the Sox won in blowout fashion, the Sox did strand 13 runners Monday afternoon, a number they will want to keep much lower in the future. Still, the stranded runners in a game like Monday’s is a bit nit-picky, and the eight runs certainly make up for it.
Starting pitching rewind:
Lester earned the Opening Day start for the Sox and he was decent but not stellar. Lester lasted five innings and allowed two runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking two. Those are good numbers for an Opening Day start, but a couple of wild pitches and his struggles to get himself out of a jam in the fourth inning detracted from the otherwise strong performance. Lester will want to be a bit more economical — he threw 96 pitches in his five innings, but his strike ratio was good. He also is the first Sox lefthander to win on Opening Day since 1970.
Lester was significantly better than Yankee starter CC Sabathia, who also lasted five innings but allowed four earned runs on eight hits while walking four and striking out five. Sabathia needed 49 pitches to get through the first two innings and tossed a total of 102 on the day. His second inning was a disaster as the Sox took control of the game by scoring four times, and Sabathia enjoyed just one 1-2-3 inning on the day.
The Yankees and Red Sox honored the victims of the Newtown shootings before the game by holding a moment of silence before the national anthem while the names of the victims scrolled across the center field scoreboard. Both teams also wore commemorative ribbons in honor of the victims and copies of the ribbons were painted on the field.
It was nice to see the rivals acknowledge a tragedy that happened back in December. While the nation certainly has not forgotten Newtown in the months since the shootings, it happened long enough ago that it would not have been an egregious omission had the teams not held a moment of silence on Opening Day, especially since both teams have committed to do other work in order to help Newtown heal. That the Red Sox and Yankees took the time to hold the ceremony shows great character on both sides.
The Yankees played the “Imperial March”, a.k.a. the theme song for the Evil Empire while the Red Sox were introduced. It was an interesting choice considering it’s the Red Sox ownership that always calls the Yankees the Evil Empire.
We also couldn’t help but notice a few facial hair errors on both sides. Red Sox newcomer Jonny Gomes is currently rocking a scraggly beard. Those are bad enough to deal with in October, but at least your team is in the playoffs. Breaking out the scruff in such an unkempt way on Opening Day … we aren’t fans. On the New York side (where facial hair is strictly controlled), Joba Chamberlain is currently getting away with a thick mustache that just doesn’t do it for us. He’s one guy we wish the Yankees would force a shave on.
Injured Yankees Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were on hand but unavailable to play Monday. Traditionally, home teams on Opening Day introduce their entire rosters, and as such, Teixeira trotted out for the fans before the game and received an ovation. Rodriguez, though present, never emerged from the dugout nor was he introduced for fans. According to several reports, the decision to stay out of the spotlight was Rodriguez’s, but no one knows why he chose to do so yet. You have to wonder, however, if the recent steroid allegations against A-Rod and alleged attempts by the Yankees to get rid of him have anything to do with his absence.
The Red Sox will have Tuesday off before returning to the field Wednesday for a 7:05 game against the Yankees. Clay Buchholz will make the start for the Sox in Game 2 while the Yankees counter with Hiroki Kuroda.