The Boston Red Sox began their 2013 World Series title defense on Monday against the division rival Baltimore Orioles and suffered a 2-1 loss. The Orioles’ pitching was great holding the Red Sox to just one run and the go-ahead home run by Nelson Cruz put them on top for good. It was a good pitchers duel until Cruz’s home run in the seventh inning broke the 1-1 tie. It wasn’t the opening day that the Red Sox wanted to begin the 2o14 season with, but there are still 161 games left to play in the season with plenty of time to make adjustments. Let’s examine my takeaways from this particular game.
Despite the Red Sox only managed one run in the loss, that run came from a solo home run from newcomer Grady Sizemore. Sizemore was the only hitter that was productive going 2-4 with a home run. The former Cleveland Indians leadoff man appeared to very comfortable batting in the 6th spot in that game. It’s not safe to assume that we will see more of this production out of him in a schedule of 162, but this could be a real encouraging sign for more things to come after a nice start. If we see more of the same production out of Sizemore like we saw on Monday, Red Sox fans will be asking this question: Jacoby Ellsbury who?
The rest of the Red Sox hitting wasn’t even close to as impressive as Sizemore’s. While Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz’s home run was the one that decided the contest, the Red Sox had numerous chances to push runs across the board. The Red Sox finished the game going 0-10 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base, which ultimately them a chance to put the game away. With a Red Sox lineup featuring David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and many other role players, there is no excuse for this type of trend to continue. I’m confident that the Red Sox will get into a groove in the near future, but I felt that they could have pulled away with a win if the offense stayed on course.
On the pitching side of the Red Sox, Jon Lester was the real workhorse on opening day. Lester’s possible contract extension had been the talk of the offseason and all of spring training, but came to a halt once the regular season began and Lester is still on his game regardless of the circumstances. Lester pitched seven strong innings with eight strikeouts to begin the 2014 campaign. Going deep into games for Lester have been no problem last season as he logged 213.1 innings pitched. Lester has had a lot of success in his career against the Orioles going 15-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 25 career starts prior to Monday’s game. Also before Monday’s game, Lester’s career at Camden Yards is 8-1 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts. Lester pitched like he is already in mid-season form and this one loss will translate into many wins as the season progresses.
The Red Sox will be back in action against the Orioles on Wednesday when John Lackey will take the mound for Boston against Ubaldo Jimenez for Baltimore. Thursday will be the final game of the opening series when the Red Sox send Felix Doubront against Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles.