Final, 3-1 Red Sox: The ninth inning wasn’t without incident, as Adam Jones smoked a 1-1 pitch over the Monster in left-center to give the Orioles their first run.
Davis then sent a hard-hit ball toward Napoli, and though he didn’t field it cleanly, he recovered in time to flip to Hanrahan covering first base.
Hanrahan then got Wieters to fan at strike three, before Hardy added some intrigue with a wall-ball double to left field.
Flaherty and his .000 then stepped to the plate, and he promptly popped up to Middlebrooks in foul ground for the final out. The Red Sox are 5-2 and sit all alone in first place.
End eighth, 3-0 Red Sox: That was a quick one, as Iglesias, Ellsbury and Victorino go down in order.
Now comes Joel Hanrahan, who stepped out of the bullpen to the first two notes of “Shipping Up To Boston,” which obviously used to be Jonathan Papelbon’s music. It got a little awkward for a few seconds, as the video board went black and someone in charge of the music likely had a mini panic attack. But they got Hanrahan’s music on eventually, and he’ll now face Jones, Davis and Wieters in the ninth with a three-run cushion.
Middle eighth, 3-0 Red Sox: Andrew Bailey makes short work of the top of the O’s lineup, getting McLouth to look at strike three, getting Machado swinging, and inducing a fly ball to center from Markakis to end the inning in just 14 pitches (11 strikes).
Bailey now has four strikeouts in 2.1 innings this season, allowing one hit, one walk and zero runs.
Top eighth, 3-0 Red Sox: Andrew Bailey comes on in relief for the Red Sox.
End seventh, 3-0 Red Sox: The Red Sox finally got the hit that they needed, and it came off the bat of the man few fans wanted to see in the lineup today — Daniel Nava.
It’s not that fans were upset to see Nava, it’s that most were hoping to catch their first glimpse of Jackie Bradley Jr. Instead, Nava got the start, and he just made John Farrell look like a genius, launching a one-out homer far over the Green Monster with two runners aboard to finally get the Sox on the board.
The homer came after Dustin Pedroia legged out an infield single and Mike Napoli hit a long double off the 379 mark in center field. Will Middlebrooks struck out swinging, leading to Nava, who sent the 1-1 pitch onto Lansdowne Street.
The homer closes the book on Chen, who’s now out of the game.
Middle seventh, 0-0: That was a real gutsy effort by Buchholz, who had to dig down deep after a nine-pitch leadoff walk to Wieters. He did just that, catching Hardy looking at strike three for the second time today and then inducing what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball to Pedroia. However for the second time of the afternoon, Pedroia mishandled the grounder and only made one out, this one at first base.
Up stepped the No. 9 hitter Pearce, and Buchholz fell behind 2-0 in the count. Three pitches later, Pearce offered a half-hearted swing for the third strike.
Buchholz finishes the day with eight strikeouts through seven innings of scoreless baseball. There were a couple of loud outs mixed in, and he did walk four batters, but overall it was a very solid 113-pitch effort by Buchholz.
End sixth, 0-0: The pitchers’ duel continues, as Chen gets Iglesias to ground to short and Ellsbury and Victorino to fly out to center field. And back comes Buchholz…
Middle sixth, 0-0: Add another K for Buchholz, as he breezes through his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon.
Buchholz is doing all the can, but Chen is matching him on the other side. Buchholz has thrown 90 pitches through six, and there’s no activity in the dugout yet, so it looks like he’ll be back out for the seventh. He pitched seven innings on 94 pitches last week in New York.
Iglesias, Ellsbury and Victorino are due up for the Sox.
End fifth, 0-0: So much for that bats-waking-up thing, as Chen added another two K’s (Middlebrooks looking, Gomes swinging, both on three pitches).
Daniel Nava did get a single, a ground ball smoked through the hole on the left side, bringing his season average up to .455 and his on-base percentage to .563.
Middle fifth, 0-0: We’re halfway through this one, still scoreless thanks to another solid inning by Buchholz.
The righty racked up another K, this time against Pearce, before inducing a harmless fly ball from Machado to end the inning after a two-out walk to McLouth.
Buchholz has allowed three walks and three hits while striking out five on 76 pitches through five innings. His ERA is at 0.75 on the young season.
The Sox have Middlebrooks, Nava and Gomes coming up, so it may be time for the bats to wake up.
End fourth, 0-0: The Sox got their first hit of the day — a line drive single to left-center field off the bat of Victorino — but then immediately take it off the board with a caught stealing. Victorino is now 2-for-4 on the year in stolen base attempts.
Pedroia followed that up with a walk, but Napoli grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
I don’t want to speak prematurely, but this game certainly has a nice, crisp pace to it.
Middle fourth, 0-0: Baseball can be a cruel game, and if you screw up, you sometimes have to wait hours or even days to get another chance.
Dustin Pedroia had to wait about two minutes.
The second baseman bobbled a sure double-play ball off the bat of Matt Wieters, eventually just cutting down Davis at second.
But on the very next batter, Pedroia got another grounder. He casually flipped to Iglesias, who fired to first for the easy out double play.
End third, 0-0: The Sox are still without a hit through three innings, as Chen just got David Ross, Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out and go down 1-2-3 in the third.
Chen’s allowed just one base runner (Nava’s walk) on 44 pitches through three innings.
Middle third, 0-0: Buchholz got a couple of quick outs to start the top of the third, including a called strike three on McLouth, but consecutive singles by Machado (shallow liner to left-center) and Markakis (ground ball down the third base line past the dive of Middlebrooks) led to a two-on, two-out situation for the red-hot Adam Jones.
Buchholz fell behind 2-0 before getting a swing and a miss on a cutter low and away, a swing and a miss on a changeup on the inner part of the plate. Buchholz threw that same cutter on the 2-2 count, but Jones checked his swing. On the full count, Buchholz froze Jones with a curveball that broke right over the middle of the plate for strike three.
Buchholz now has four strikeouts (three looking) in his last seven batters faced.
End second, 0-0: The Red Sox get their first base runner of the game in the form of a two-out walk by Daniel Nava, but Jonny Gomes follows up with a pop-up to shallow right in a 10-pitch at-bat.
Chen is at 36 pitches through two, while Buchholz has thrown 27.
Middle second, 0-0: Buchholz is fortunate to be in Fenway Park today, as the deep right field wall may have saved him from serving up a couple of taters early on. This one came off the bat of Matt Wieters, but again, Victorino was able to make a warning track catch.
Buchholz then followed that up looking pretty sharp, striking out Hardy looking and getting Flaherty swinging through a heater for the third out.
End first, 0-0: The Red Sox’ first home at-bats of the season aren’t all that memorable, as Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia go down 1-2-3. Victorino smoked a line drive, but third baseman Manny Machado made an impressive leaping grab to rob Victorino of extra bases.
Middle first, 0-0: Buchholz worked around a leadoff single by Nate McLouth, getting Manny Machado to pop out to the on-deck circle and Nick Markakis to fly out to center on a change-up that was middle-middle. Adam Jones and his .538 batting average then stepped up, and he made solid contact on a deep fly ball to right, but Victorino was able to camp under it at the base of the warning track for the inning’s final out.
2:07 p.m.: The first pitch from Clay Buchholz was a swinging strike, and baseball has officially begun at Fenway Park.
2:02 p.m.: The Red Sox fans had more giant ovation left in them, as Pedro Martinez helped the group from The Jimmy Fund shout out “Play ball!” to get this one started.
1:59 p.m.: The Red Sox celebrated 60 years of partnership with The Jimmy Fund in the pregame presentation, and we’re now minutes from first pitch.
1:48 p.m.: John Lackey received a healthy ovation from the Fenway crowd, and then Jackie Bradley Jr. got the loudest roar of the day.
1:45 p.m.: Huge ovation as Don Orsillo introduced the “all-new” coaching staff of Brian Butterfield, Arnie Beyeler, Torey Lovullo, Greg Colbrunn, Victor Rodriguez, Juan Nieves, Dana Levangie.
1:44 p.m.: The red carpet (fancy fancy!) is now rolled out from the Red Sox’ dugout to the first base line.
1:41 p.m.: The Orioles are being introduced now along the third-base line.
12:55 p.m.: With first pitch still more than an hour away, here’s what the Orioles’ starting lineup looks like:
1. Nate McClouth, LF
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Matt Wieters, C
7. J.J. Hardy, SS
8. Ryan Flaherty, 2B
9. Steve Pearce, DH
Watch our for Markakis, who is always dangerous against the Red Sox and is currently riding a three-game multi-hit streak. Adam Jones also has a hit in all six Baltimore games this season, including five with multiple hits. He’s hitting .538, which has to impress even Jose Iglesias.
12:40 p.m.: Just took a stroll down to field level to snap a few pictures to try to capture the atmosphere here.
12:15 p.m.: I don’t know if there’s a higher power, but if there is, it’s clear that he or she is a baseball fan, because this is a absolutely perfect day for baseball in Boston.
The walk over to the park from Kenmore was buzzing with fans and of course the choruses of “Tickets! Anyone sellin’?!” and “Programs here, one dollar!”
10 a.m.: Baseball is back in Boston.
While the Red Sox’ home opener always seems to reinvigorate the Boston fan base, the team’s 4-2 start this season has folks especially excited to see the home team back out on the field.
The Sox have certainly already changed a lot of fans’ opinions of the team, after a disappointing end to the 2011 season and a thorough disaster from start to finish last year. But thanks to a simple focus on the little things — effort chief among them — the Red Sox have made a lot of progress in just a week in winning back the fans.
Today, they’ll make their debut in front of the home crowd, but unfortunately for anyone hoping to see Jackie Bradley Jr., he is not in the starting lineup:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Jonny Gomes, DH
8. David Ross, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Clay Buchholz, SP
Bradley’s off to a .143 start at the plate with seven strikeouts, though he has worked five walks. He is 1-for-10 with five strikeouts and two walks against lefties.
Lefty Wei-Yin Chen will get the start on the mound for Baltimore. He went 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA last season, and he allowed two runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings last week at Tampa Bay.
Keep it right here in the live blog all day long, with live updates from pregame all the way through the last pitch.