BOSTON (CBS) – Game one of 162 in the books as the Red Sox pull out a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway.
Here’s a few thoughts and observations on what we saw on Monday:
–Play of the day in my mind was Pablo Sandoval legging out an infield RBI single with two outs in the 5th inning to break a scoreless tie. So many layers to this one starting with Sandoval being the focus of everything that can go wrong in a free agent signing and then the effort to turn it around. Sandoval worked his tail off in the offseason and came into camp ready to reclaim his third base job. He had a tremendous spring and then notched his first RBI since September 15th, 2015 by beating out a ground ball to the SS hole. And, it came with two outs! Have to feel good for Sandoval there as it opened up the path for 4 more runs after that. He has to feel good about that…..
–Andrew Benintendi is special. From the way he carries himself as a big league rookie to how he swings the bat, he just seems to have a unique “rise to the occasion” quality about him. And that label has followed him on his journey through the organization as Sox Baseball Ops guys have raved about his actions and bat speed/hands for years. A three-run homer from the two hole on Opening Day(as well as a nice over the shoulder catch in LF) is the perfect way to start off what could be an award winning season for the 22 year old….
–I’ll take Gold Glove defense, a .250 average and 25 home runs every year from Jackie Bradley, Jr but I do believe that he can hit for a higher average. Sox fans are spoiled by wanting him to be a superstar. Most MLB teams would take him in a heartbeat…..
–I think the biggest offensive question early on will be who hits in the five-hole in the Sox lineup against righthanders. Mitch Moreland got the nod on Opening Day, but I’m not sure he’s best suited to hit there. He’s more of a 7-8 guy in the order that will give you some pop and Gold Glove defense. Can Pablo Sandoval or JBJ move into that slot? If either one gets off to a hot start I have to think John Farrell will move them in there….
–Rick Porcello was just fine in his first start. Pitching in to the 7th while allowing three runs is a solid way to get his Cy Young encore season underway. It’s never easy to try to replicate as consistent a year as he had. He was machine-like for most of 2016 and once he got into a rhythm, it was a thing of beauty to watch. There will be bumps in the road, but I think he’s learned to throw inside the strike zone so well….that I think he can still have an All-Star type of year. He may get hit hard at times, but he knows what he’s doing now and should rebound no matter what goes on in a game or throughout several starts….
–The bullpen is my number one concern coming into the start of the season and I think it will be that way for a while. Craig Kimbrel will be fine as a the closer, but it may take time for everyone to settle into their roles….and then things may change again when Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith return from injuries. They’ll be hiccups along the way, but patience will be key……
–Wednesday night…Game 2 of 162…is always one if the lowest attended games of the season. Coffee and hot chocolate will be a must, but it may be worth coming to Fenway simply to witness Chris Sale’s first start in a Red Sox uniform…..
–I thought the pregame ceremony with the Patriots was bizarre, but fun. Watching Gronk steal Tom Brady’s jersey and then frolic in the outfield grass was everything that you would expect from Gronk. Nice to see Brady enjoying himself too. Seeing the five trophies too makes you realize how special this city is….
–Great to have baseball back, isn’t it? Enjoy the ride