Maybe it wasn’t exactly how the Red Sox drew it up, or perhaps it was? There’s no denying that Tuesday afternoon’s 6-2 opening day win over the Cleveland Indians was a nice way to start the 2016 season.
Among the undeniably positive takeaways:
David Price. When you’ve got a seven-year, $217 million contract, expectations are going to be sky-high. Price did his best to fulfill them. Pitching in frigid conditions, Price struggled to get peak velocity on his fastball, but he still had Cleveland hitters swinging and missing.
Six innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs and 10 strikeouts. It was the first time an opening day starter had 10 or more strikeouts since old friend Josh Beckett struck out 10 Tampa Bay Rays in April of 2009.
Price’s effectiveness was notable because he didn’t have his best stuff, and the conditions were so cold that gripping the baseball was a legitimate concern. Cleveland does not have a prolific lineup, but it is tough to to come away with anything but positive feelings about Price’s Red Sox debut.
Speaking of positives, let’s talk Mookie Betts. Betts starts 2016 with sky-high expectations. So-high in fact that many would understand if Betts ends up having a slightly below expectations 2016. Thus far there’s no signs of that happening. Betts finished 2-for-5 with a 2-run home run, and even threw in a highlight reel catch in right field.
The Red Sox opening day lineup had two unexpected twists. Travis Shaw starting at third base in place of Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt starting in left field in place of Rusney Castillo.
Both players had solid days at the plate. Shaw wasn’t thrilled when he was called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the seventh. He still finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored. Brock Holt had a pair of singles and a run batted in.
The Red Sox bullpen: Junichi Tazawa came in to pitch the seventh inning, the Red Sox were leading 4-2. Tazawa looked very comfortable as he got Cleveland out 1-2-3. Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
David Ortiz hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth. The towering shot to right gave to the Red Sox a 6-2 lead and meant it was a non-save situation. That didn’t matter, Craig Kimbrel still made his Red Sox debut.
All told the bullpen pitched three innings, allowed no runs, no hits, walked one and registered five strikeouts.
The Red Sox won 6-2. Red Sox fans can be quite cynical, but it is tough see too many negatives about this opening day win.
Wednesday the Red Sox face Cleveland at 6:10 pm, Clay Buchholz starts for Boston, while Cleveland counters with Carlos Carrasco.