Final, 8-2 Red Sox: Joel Hanrahan puts forth a solid Red Sox debut, retiring the side in order (in front of about 1,000 fans left in the light rain at Yankee Stadium).
And with that, the Red Sox close out a very solid opening day victory. It’s just one game, of course, but the extra effort out of the young players, the three RBIs from Victorino and some excellent hustle on the base paths by Gomes already shone through. And for a team that’s been as frustrating to watch over the past two years as these Red Sox, this year’s squad did a good job of making this season feel different after just nine innings.
Middle ninth, 8-2 Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia gets his uniform filthy with a dive into first base, but he can’t beat out Nunez’s throw. This one heads to the final frame with the Sox leading 8-2.
Of note — Pedroia looked to jam his thumb on the base on that dive. It’s never really a good idea to dive into first base (you can get there faster by running through the bag), and in an 8-2 game in the ninth inning, it’s an even worse idea.
Top ninth, 8-2 Red Sox: The Sox just blew this one wide open, with an assist to a bobble from Robinson Cano on a Jacoby Ellsbury ground ball. The bobble allowed Saltalamacchia, who walked for the third time in his plate appearance, to score from third, and Gomes (single to LF) showed great hustle to score from second, capped off with a tremendous slide to avoid Cervelli’s tags. Victorino followed that up with an RBI single to right, scoring Bradley (walk) from third base to give the Sox a six-run lead.
All of the damage came against Joba Chamberlain.
End eighth, 5-2 Red Sox: Junichi Tazawa gave up a single to Travis Hafner, who somehow placed his line drive perfectly in the middle of about four Red Sox players who were in the shift, but Tazawa came back to get a ground ball from Ichiro. Tazawa fielded the ball, turned and threw to second, and Iglesias fired to first to double up Ichiro to end the inning.
Joba Chamberlain and his amazing mustache enter the game for the Yankees.
Middle eighth, 5-2 Red Sox: That half-inning won’t produce any clips for the end-of-season highlight reel, as Victorino, Pedroia and Napoli go down in order against Shawn Kelley.
End seventh, 5-2 Red Sox: Bailey made short work of Youkilis, getting him to chase a high fastball for strike three, and the Sox are now six outs away from an opening day win.
Bottom seventh, two outs, 5-2 Red Sox: Andrew Miller looked awfully shaky in his 2013 debut, walking Cervelli and Gardner to start the season, but he battled back in a big way, striking out Nunez and Cano in consecutive at-bats. Andrew Bailey is now coming on for the Sox.
Middle seventh, 5-2 Red Sox: The call was on for a safety squeeze for Bradley, but he pulled back three times on pitches out of the zone. Eventually, he smoked a ball right back through the box. Logan was able to get his glove on it, and it deflected right to Cano, who threw over to first to retire Bradley. But Middlebrooks was able to score from third on the play, giving Bradley his first major league RBI and the Red Sox an all-important insurance run.
Top seventh, 1 out, 4-2 Red Sox: Phelps’ day is done after getting Gomes to fly out to right, but Middlebrooks (walk) tagged from second and advanced to third on the play. Saltalamacchia also walked, so it’ll be first-and-third with one out for Bradley, who will face lefty reliever Boone Logan.
End sixth, 4-2 Red Sox: Quite the debut there for Koji Uehara, who drew weak contact from Travis Hafner (pinch-hitting for Francisco), Suzuki and Lyle Overbay (pinch-hitting for Nix) in a 1-2-3 inning that required just five pitches.
Middle sixth, 4-2 Red Sox: A leadoff triple by Jacoby Ellsbury goes for naught, as he stays put at third on a Victorino grounder to second before getting gunned down at the plate by Nix following a sharply hit ground ball by Pedroia. Napoli (0-for-4) flew out to left to end the inning, as the Sox miss a golden opportunity to tack on a run.
Top sixth, 4-2 Red Sox: Right-hander David Phelps is on for the Yankees, finishing Sabathia’s day. CC’s final line is: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 SO, 4 BB.
Lester’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 7 SO, 2 BB.
End fifth, 4-2 Red Sox: It hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way for Jon Lester, but he sure capped off the fifth inning the way he wanted to, freezing Vernon Wells for strike three. It was Lester’s seventh K of the day, and it will also be his last, as he is done for the day at 96 pitches.
Middle fifth, 4-2 Red Sox: Jose Iglesias came up in a big spot with the bases loaded and two outs (following a Saltalamacchia double, an intentional walk to Gomes and a walk to Bradley), but he’s unable to cash in. Iglesias sent a popup behind first base, which Youkilis handled easily for the inning’s final out.
The good news for the Red Sox is that Sabathia’s now over 100 pitches, so he may be done for the day. That won’t mean much if Lester can’t bounce back from last inning, though.
End fourth, 4-2 Red Sox: That was a long and tough inning for Jon Lester, but he is able to limit the damage to just two runs and maintain the lead.
It started with a Youkilis double down the third-base line followed by a walk to Vernon Wells. Following a foul pop-out by Francisco, Ichiro hit a well-placed single to shallow right-center that neither Ellsbury or Victorino could get to. Lester came close to getting out of it after he struck out Nix looking, but Cervelli was able to pull a 1-2 pitch down the line, hitting the chalk in shallow left field and allowing Youkilis and Wells to score.
Lester threw 34 pitches in that inning and is now up to 84 on the afternoon. He’ll need a quick fifth if he wants to make it into the sixth inning today.
Middle fourth, 4-0 Red Sox: Jose Iglesias pushed a bunt single down the first base line for his second infield hit of the day. He entered today’s game with 10 total hits in 74 career at-bats, so suffice it to say he’s off to a pretty good start.
Ellsbury also sent a two-strike single over the head of Nunez at short for his first hit of the year, but Victorino and Pedroia both grounded out to end the inning.
Sabathia has now thrown 76 pitches through four innings.
End of third, 4-0 Red Sox: The legend of Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to grow.
After Brett Gardner reached on a 12-foot swinging bunt, he advanced to second on a wild pitch to Robinson Cano. With a 2-0 count, Cano launched a high fly ball deep to the opposite field. Bradley immediately broke straight back and was able to twist his body around at the foot of the warning track and make the catch to end the inning.
Not bad for a kid who, according to his manager a couple of weeks ago, wouldn’t be playing any left field this year.
Middle third, 4-0 Red Sox: That was a strong comeback inning for Sabathia, who struck out Middlebrooks swinging and Saltalamacchia looking before getting Gomes to pop out to short.
End second, 4-0 Red Sox: Lester works around a one-out walk to Ben Francisco, catching Jayson Nix looking at strike three to end the frame. Lester looks awfully sharp through two innings, at 34 pitches with three K’s already.
Middle second, 4-0 Red Sox: It turns out that Will Middlebrooks was so dead-set on making his first opening day start that he is playing despite a 102-degree fever (according to Tim Britton, via Twitter). While it may not be the very best decision for the kid’s health, you have to at least respect the dedication. He made decent contact but Jayson Nix made a great play behind third base to field the chopper and gun him down at first.
Then, Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked an impressive walk (he only had 38 all of last season) before Jonny Gomes ripped a line drive that Nix couldn’t get his whole glove on at third, leading to the much-anticipated debut of Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley fell behind 0-2, taking the first strike and swinging out of his shoes at the second, before very impressively working the count full and taking the eight-pitch walk.
Jose Iglesias followed that up with an RBI infield single, thanks to Bradley’s effort to beat out Nunez’s throw from deep in the hole to second base. Ellsbury made solid contact but hit right at Youkilis, who threw home to retire Gomes at the plate. Up stepped Victorino, who singled through the hole in the left side to score Bradley and Iglesias and open up a 3-0 lead.
The Sox weren’t done, though, as Pedroia used an inside-out swing to fight off Sabathia’s pitch and get it through the right side, with Ellsbury scoring easily from second base.
Sabathia finally got Napoli to fly out to center to end the inning, but he’s already at 49 pitches through two innings.
End first, 0-0: Jon Lester struck out Robinson Cano to end the inning, but his cutter had so much movement on it that even Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn’t handle the pitch, which made it all the way to the backstop. Though Cano reached on the strikeout, Kevin Youkilis followed it up with a fly ball to right to end the inning. Lester looks sharp early, striking out Gardner to lead off the inning and inducing a weak grounder to short from Nunez.
Middle first, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia smoked a two-out single up the middle, extending his own personal streak of opening day hits to seven years, but Sabathia was able to strike out Victorino and Napoli to shut the Sox down (Ellsbury sent a weak 0-2 popup to shortstop to lead off).
1:10 p.m.: The first pitch from CC Sabathia to Jacoby Ellsbury was a called strike down the middle, and the Sox and Yanks are under way at the Stadium.
1 p.m.: Following an emotional extended moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Connstantine Maroulis sang a … unique version of the national anthem, and we’re now just minutes away from first pitch.
12:51 p.m.: When Kevin Youkilis was introduced in the Yankees’ starting lineup, NESN cameras showed David Ortiz giving his former teammate some applause.
12:45 p.m.: Larry Lucchino once famously dubbed the Yankees as “The Evil Empire,” and the Yankees are having a little fun with it today, playing Darth Vader’s “The Imperial March” as the Red Sox are introduced on the field at Yankee Stadium.
12:15 p.m.: We are close to the first pitch of the season, so to help pass the time in the final hour here, here are some opening day facts, provided by the Red Sox:
The Red Sox are 54-57-1 all time on opening day (tough break for whoever was in attendance for that tie).
Jon Lester will become the third lefty in team history to start three opening days, joining Mel Parnell and Babe Ruth. The last lefty to win an opening day start was Gary Peters in 1970 in New York.
Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in each of the last six opening day games, which is the longest streak since Mo Vaughn did it seven straight years from 1992-98.
The Red Sox have three starters (Middlebrooks, Iglesias, Bradley) aged 24 or younger on opening day for the second time in the last 25 years.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will be the first player to make his major league debut with the Red Sox without any Triple-A experience since Shea Hillenbrand in 2001, and he’s the first outfielder to do it for the Sox since Brady Anderson in 1988.
11 a.m.: Hey, here’s good news: Mayor Thomas Menino thinks the Red Sox will make the playoffs. Check out his chat with Steve Burton from Sports Final by clicking here.
10:30 a.m.: Say what you will about the mess that’s surrounded the Red Sox for the past 20 months or so, about the disastrous Bobby Valentine era, about the suspect free-agent contracts and about all the question marks heading into the season. None of that matters today, because today is opening day.
Cliche as it sounds (and is), opening day is truly one of the best days on the sports calendar. Last year officially becomes last year as soon as the first pitch is thrown, new faces introduce themselves to the world and seemingly everything is a possibility.
And looking at the lineups for this afternoon’s Red Sox-Yankees game in the Bronx, it’d be hard to not like the Red Sox’ chances.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Jonny Gomes, DH
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., LF
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Jon Lester, SP
1. Brett Gardner, CF
2. Eduardo Nunez, SS
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Vernon Wells, LF
6. Ben Francisco, DH
7. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
8. Jayson Nix, 3B
9. Francisco Cervelli, C
CC Sabathia, SP