After a significant amount of money being spent this offseason on offense and much criticism in the media about their lack of an ace on the pitching staff, the Boston Red Sox organization was happy to see immediate results on the field. Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies was a storybook game for the Red Sox as every aspect of their team performed spectacularly.
The 22-year-old center fielder, Mookie Betts, was under scrutiny to see if he would live up to excpectations when the games counted after winning the starting job in Spring Training. The big story line of Betts versus Phillies ace Cole Hamels, due to recent trade rumors of the two, became a factor right away as in Betts’ second at bat he took Hamels deep with a solo home run to left field to put the Red Sox up 2-0. Betts finished the game going 2 for 4 with 2 runs, an RBI and a walk. Not a bad way to silence any critics for the time being.
Hanley Ramirez, an offseason acquisition with a monstrous contract, also proved his worth early as he hit two runs including a ninth inning grand slam to put the game beyond doubt as he extended the lead to 8-0. Going 2 for 4 with 5 RBI’s and a walk, Ramirez is earning his money thus far into this very young season.
The new guys aren’t the only ones who made noise for the Sox, as Dustin Pedroia had two solo home runs himself. The unofficial leader of this team showed his might as in his first at bat of the season he cranked one over the left field fence and set the tone for the rest of the game against a usually dominant Hamels. Pedroia went on to go 3 for 5, and now has a hit in his last 9 opening days.
The offense wasn’t the only thing that looked great, as Clay Buchholz proved manager John Farrell right with his decision to make Buchholz the opening day starter. Buchholz showed command in his fastball and his offspeed pitches, keeping hitters off balance for the entirety of his 7 innings. He racked up 9 strike outs while only giving up 3 hits and a walk with no earned runs. He earned his first win of the season.
Pedroia commented on his starting pitcher’s performance as he said, “He looked great. That was midseason form — as good as it gets.”.
Although Buchholz proved that he did not need the outstanding run support he got, he was still grateful after the game as he spoke of his teammates.
“It goes back to what everyone has been talking about, our lineup,” Buchholz said. “I’m glad I don’t have to pitch to them. Glad they’re on our side. It feels like 2007, when I got called up, with Manny [Ramirez] and David [Ortiz] and everybody.”
Although other big names like Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz were held hitless, Ortiz striking out three times, the Red Sox know that all their hitters won’t be hot every game. Having a majority of them performing as well as they did in this game is certainly more than satisfactory.
It was certainly a fairly tale opening day for the Sox front office as this is exactly how the Red Sox need to play in order to compete for the World Series. The hitting was dominant, Buchholz pitched like the ace they need and the bullpen closed the game without a hitch.
Rick Porcello will look to continue what Buchholz started as he is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Phillies. Having just signed a 4-year extension worth $82.5 million with the Red Sox, Wednesday will be his first chance to show he is worth the money.