Bad Only Slightly Outweighs the Good in Non-Disastrous Red Sox Opener

Bad Only Slightly Outweighs the Good in Non-Disastrous Red Sox Opener

Opening Day came with the usual fanfare and excitement. Flyovers! American flags that are big! Umm . . . Dana Barros? (Yes, Dana Barros, don’t insult the pride of Mattapan, Xaverian, BC, and now Stoughton).

But something didn’t seem right when long-retired catcher Jason Varitek got the loudest applause during pregame introductions and a Red Sox hype man tried desperately to make the starting lineup sound better than it was. Rafael Devers will spend the next 10 years in Boston. The World Baseball Classic was just won by Masataka Yoshida! The Cy Young Award has been given to Corey Kluber twice.

Poor pitching ruins the Red Sox’s first game of the season against the O’s.
All of it felt forced, like a project that has lost its shine about as quickly as the Red Sox have lost homegrown All-Stars. Opening Day used to be the unofficial start of spring here, but now it’s just what happens between trade rumors about Lamar Jackson. “T-Pain told Mr. Kraft that Lamar loves to shop at the Wrentham Outlets for Le Creuset!”

But you have to give the Red Sox this: just when it looked like they were going to be blown out of their own building, which would have set a bad tone for a 2023 season that is already close to being boring, they showed enough fight, especially on offense, to keep their obituary from being written.

I can’t really beat them up today because the number of bad things is about the same as the number of good things against the Orioles (10-9). The Red Sox spent the winter carefully putting together a pitching staff that would definitely throw strikes. Then, in their first game, they walked nine batters, which tied a franchise record for a first game. All of these extra runners helped the Orioles pull off five of the easiest steals they’ll ever make while running wild.

But even though they were behind 5-1, 7-2, and 10-4, the Red Sox still made it close, thanks in part to some bad defense from Baltimore. Masataka Yoshida, the new left fielder, looked like he was the real deal. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI and turned a 95 mph fastball over the inside corner with ease. Rafael Devers hit rockets all the way across the field. Both Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo had two top 40 hits. The attack had some power.

Over the last two innings, the Red Sox outscored the Orioles 5-0. In the ninth inning, with the tying run on second, Adam Duvall struck out to end the game.

Even though another 0-1 start isn’t something to be happy about, at least the Red Sox didn’t have a complete disaster.

The manager, Alex Cora, said, “You want to win the first one. We’ll try again next year.” “It’s also how we played. You’d rather play a clean 3-2 or 1-0 game, but that wasn’t the case. But you take the good at the end. We fought hard and had a lot of traffic. We did a lot of good things on offense.”

If Opening Day is a time for big claims, how about this one? The Red Sox and Orioles looked like they were playing for last place in baseball’s best division. That doesn’t mean they’re both bad, but they should be ready to lose to the Yankees, Blue Jays, or Rays, who all won on Thursday.

Turner said, “We played with good fight today.” “The guys kept getting hit, but they kept going and hitting back. They gave us a chance to win the game in the ninth inning. I’m proud of what we did, but we just fell a little short.”

On Saturday, the Red Sox will play again, and their best pitcher, Chris Sale, will be on the mound. He should do better than Corey Kluber did in the three innings he pitched against the O’s.

The Red Sox can’t afford to get off to a slow start, and they’re already in trouble. The fact that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been gives them one more day, but that’s all. The season for baseball is long. We can only hope it doesn’t take too long.

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