Final, 2-1 Orioles: Will Middlebrooks led off the inning by wearing a fastball between the two D’s in his last name.
Daniel Nava then worked the count to his advantage at 2-1 but popped out to third base, where Ryan Flaherty went on a bit of an adventure but made the catch near the mound.READ MORE: At-Home Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing Gaining Popularity Ahead Of Holidays
Up stepped Dustin Pedroia, who fell behind 0-2 but — ho-hum — fouled off a couple of Tommy Hunter pitches, checked his swing on ball one and then lined a laser over Hardy at short.
With two on and one out, up stepped David Ortiz. He had a pretty terrible spring and was 1-for-4 on the day, but he was able to make solid contact. Alas, he didn’t get enough behind it, and Nelson Cruz made the routine catch in left-center field.
With two on and two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. stepped up. Bradley wasn’t even on the roster yesterday, but due to Victorino’s injury, he found himself in this position with the game on the line. He took two pitches to start the at-bat, falling behind 0-2, and then fouled back a heater. The count evened up at 2-2, but Bradley watched as strike three crossed the plate. Game over.
The Sox left 12 runners on base today and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Might there have been a different result had Bradley not pinch run for Napoli? Maybe, maybe not. But there’s no way of knowing, and there’s no way of going back and changing anything.
So there you have it. The Sox are 0-1 after an exciting opening day in Baltimore.
End 8th, 2-1 Orioles: That’s a strong debut performance for 2014 from Junichi Tazawa, who shuts the O’s down 1-2-3 in the eighth.
Middlebrooks, Nava, Pedroia … and then Ortiz, if someone reaches, are due up for Boston, looking to scrape across a run. Tommy Hunter comes on to close this one out for Baltimore.
Middle 8th, 2-1 Orioles: A.J. Pierzynski turns in a dreadful at-bat against Matusz, offering two weak swings at the first two pitches and then tapping out to the mound to end the inning. With Jonny Gomes available on the bench, it’s fair to question John Farrell letting Pierzynski hit there. I suppose it’s his first game in the uniform, and Farrell wants to support him, but that was … ugly.
The Orioles are just three outs away from an opening day win, but they’ll look to add some insurance runs against Junichi Tazawa here in the bottom of the eighth.
The Red Sox have now left 10 runners on base today, and they’re 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Top 8th, 2-1 Orioles: The Red Sox have runners on first and second with two outs, and Buck Showalter is going to Brian Matusz to get the Orioles out of it.
The Sox got here like this:
Mike Napoli walk.
Mike Carp 3-1-3 fielder’s choice.
Grady Sizemore swinging strikeout.
Xander Bogaerts walk.
Matusz comes on to face Piersynski. A single ties the game, with Jackie Bradley Jr. on second as a pinch runner for Napoli.
End 7th, 2-1 Orioles: Here’s some good news, bad news on Lester. The good news? He struck out the side. The bad news? He allowed a leadoff homer to Nelson Cruz.
Cruz swung away at the first pitch of the inning, a fastball over the middle of the plate, and he launched it deep over the left field fence. On a cool day with strong winds, he still managed to make it a no-doubter.
Lester looked to be ticked off by the homer, and he came back strong by striking out Wieters, Young and Flaherty to end the inning. But the damage was done, and Lester leaves this game on the hook for the loss.
Now it’s safe to give Lester’s final line: 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 SO.
Right-hander Evan Meek comes on for the Orioles in relief of Britton.
Middle 7th, 1-1: Zach Britton is proving to be a difficult conundrum for Red Sox hitters, as the reliever is now through two innings of work having allowed just one hit while needing only 21 pitches to mow down the Sox.
Nava grounded out to third, Pedroia grounded out to the mound, and Ortiz grounded out to first, and that’s that for the top of the seventh.
Lester is indeed back out there for the bottom of the seventh. Apparently, he’s ready to go over 100 pitches here.
End 6th, 1-1: And Lester is able to finish his outing with an exclamation point, getting Chris Davis to strike out with a runner on first to end the sixth.
Lester started the inning by getting Markakis looking (at a pitch that was about 6 inches off the plate, but whatever) and Hardy to ground out to third. Jones singled up the middle, but Davis’ strikeout stranded him at first base.
Lester finishes the day having allowed one run on five hits and one walk while striking out five. He’s at 92 pitches, so there’s a chance he could come back out for the seventh, but given that it’s still March, I’d say that’s doubtful.
The Sox come up in the seventh looking to try to get that W for Lester. It’s the top of the order due up for the Sox.
Middle 6th, 1-1: Xander Bogaerts showed off that sweet swing yet again, this time doubling to right field with one out. However the Sox got nothing after that, as Ryan Flaherty made a pair of nice plays in the field to retire Pierzynski on a high chopper behind the mind and Middlebrooks on a hard-hit grounder to third.
End 5th, 1-1: Jon Lester made short work of the O’s in the fifth, retiring Young, Flaherty and Schoop on just 10 pitches (5-3, F7, K). That was the best inning of the afternoon for Lester, who’s at just 74 pitches and should be able to at least give the Sox one more inning of work.
Middle 5th, 1-1: Dustin Pedroia is just a complete headache for opposing pitchers. With a 1-1 count, Pedroia fouled off eight straight pitches from Tillman. The right-hander threw cutters, sliders, fastballs and changeups, and Pedroia got a piece of them all. After taking ball two on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Pedroia then put a charge into one out to center field. The chilly air and strong wind prevented it from getting out, though, and Adam Jones made the catch one step before hitting the fence.
David Ortiz followed up with another deep flyball, this one toward left-center, and it was again caught by Jones.
Mike Napoli stepped to the plate with two down and nobody on, with Tillman looking for his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon. Tillman failed in that endeavor, walking Napoli on five pitches.
Up stepped Mike Carp, who put up a fight himself after falling behind 0-2, but he eventually grounded out to third to end the inning.
That’ll probably do it for Tillman, who allowed one run on seven hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings. It could have been much worse if the wind hadn’t knocked down some of those deep flies by Bogaerts, Pedroia and Ortiz, but they don’t keep track of “could’ves” and “should’ves” in the stats book.
End 4th, 1-1: Lester got Wieters to go down looking for the final out of the fourth, and the game heads to the fifth tied at 1-1.
Of note in that inning was Adam Jones’ takeout slide at second base to break up a double play. Pedroia fielded Bogaerts’ throw from deep in the hole and then stepped behind the second base bag before making the throw to first. Jones slid threw the base and then flipped his body forward toward Pedroia’s knee. Pedroia’s got a bit of experience dealing with such slides, and he was able to leap out of harm. Still, expect that one to stay in Pedroia’s deep memory bank.
Lester has allowed four hits and one run while striking out two through his first four innings of 2014.
Middle 4th, 1-1: You gotta be kidding me.
We knew Grady Sizemore looked good in the spring and earned this starting job, but even the most ardent of Sizemore supporters wouldn’t have been calling for the guy to go yard on opening day.
Yet that’s what Sizemore did to lead off the top of the fourth inning, turning on a cut fastball on the inner half and launching it just over the high right field wall.
Tie ballgame, and Sizemore is now 2-for-2 with a single and a homer. That was Sizemore’s first big league homer since July 15, 2011. Crazy stuff.
Pierzynski also singled in the inning.READ MORE: 'This Is What Really Matters': Patriots TE Jonnu Smith Spreads Joy At Boys And Girls Club In Dorchester
End 3rd, 1-0 Orioles: The pitcher’s best friend came back to help Lester in the third, as he got J.J. Hardy to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the third inning. Schoop had singled through the left side to lead off the inning, with Markakis popping up to short for the inning’ first out.
That’s the second double play induced by Lester, and it helps him escape the third at 52 pitches.
Middle 3rd, 1-0 Orioles: A two-out rally from David Ortiz (single into right field) and Mike Napoli (line-drive double to left field) goes for naught, as Mike Carp battles but eventually goes down swinging at a looping curveball that ends up in the dirt for final out of the third inning.
Nava and Pedroia were retired in short order to start the inning, but Ortiz and Napoli’s work ensured Tillman couldn’t escape the third without some hard work. Tillman’s thrown 60 pitches through three innings.
End 2nd, 1-0 Orioles: Jon Lester found himself in a bit of a jam in the second, but a double play ball off the bat of Delmon Young helped the pitcher minimize the damage.
Nelson Cruz led off the inning by working the count full and earning a walk, and Matt Wieters followed that up with a bloop single to left-center field.
Young then hit a grounder to second base, and Wieters dodged Pedroia’s tag attempt in the base line. Pedroia fired to first, and Napoli threw to Bogaerts covering second base, where the shortstop applied the tag for the second out. Cruz waltzed home from third on the play.
Ryan Flaherty grounded out softly to Pedroia to end the inning.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: Grady Sizemore, in his first at-bat since September 2011, squared up a 3-1 offering from Tillman and ripped it into right field for a single.
The great story that is Sizemore’s return to the field continues.
That single followed a smoked line drive single from Mike Carp, setting up a two-on, nobody-out situation for Xander Bogaerts. The kid launched one to left field with a sweet, sweet swing, and it looked like it had a chance to leave the yard. But that 20-plus mph wind knocked it down, allowing Nelson Cruz to make a leaping catch at the warning track.
A.J. Pierzynski then got into one with a deep fly out to center, allowing Carp to get to tag and take third base. But Middlebrooks struck out looking to end the inning, keeping the score at 0-0.
Tillman is at 39 pitches through two.
End 1st, 0-0: J.J. Hardy ripped a one-out line-drive single over third, but that’s all the Orioles got against Lester in the first.
Adam Jones popped up to shortstop, where Xander Bogaerts fought off the strong winds to make the catch for the second out of the inning. Lester then got Davis to strike out swinging to end the inning.
It took Lester 19 pitches to get through the first, so the pitch counts are already a bit high on both sides through one inning.
Carp, Sizemore, Bogaerts due up for Boston.
Middle 1st, 0-0: A Dustin Pedroia one-out single is all the Sox muster in the opening frame of the year, as Tillman rallied to get David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to strike out swinging to end the inning.
Daniel Nava did a solid job in the leadoff spot to work a seven-pitch at-bat, but it ended in a slow roller back to the box, where Tillman fielded and threw on to first for the out. In all, Tillman had to throw 20 pitches to get through the first.
Markakis, Hardy and Jones due up to face Lester in the bottom of the first.
Top 1st, 0-0: Chris Tillman’s first pitch to Daniel Nava is a called strike, and the 2014 season is officially underway for the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
3:12 p.m.: Finally, the Orioles take the field.
3:01 p.m.: The pregame pageantry is over, and the only thing left now is baseball.
First pitch is now just moments away.
2:53 p.m.: The Orioles are being introduced now, and they’re jogging in from a balloon arch in center field. They then have to run all the way to the infield. That’s like a full day’s workout for a baseball player.
2:46 p.m.: In an odd decision, the Orioles are blasting “Loser” by Beck during the introduction of the Red Sox starting lineup.
The Red Sox, as you know, are defending world champions. The Orioles haven’t won since 1983.
2:43 p.m.: The Sox are being introduced one-by-one on the field at Camden Yards, starting with the training staff and now going through the coaching staff.
2:33 p.m.: Here’s something I hadn’t even thought about until just now — we’ll be seeing the rebirth of the Sox’ red-lettered road jerseys this afternoon.
Personally, I always preferred the red-lettered roadies over the blue letter, because, well, the team color is red, and I found the switch to blue back in 2009 to be completely unnecessary. So as far as uniforms go, it’s a pretty big day.
2:01 p.m.: Just about one hour until the season begins…
12:47 p.m.: With first pitch still a couple of hours away, we’ve got some time to kill. I did that by sharing a memory from last year’s opening day, when it was clear that the Sox were a different team than the one that had just lost 93 games. Check it out by clicking here, if you’d like.
And here is the Orioles lineup for today:
1. Nick Markakis, RF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Adam Jones, CF
4. Chris Davis, 1B
5. Nelson Cruz, LF
6. Matt Wieters, C
7. Delmon Young, DH
8. Ryan Flaherty, 3B
9. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
12 p.m.: It may be rainy, raw and cold home in Boston, but that’s not putting a damper on the fact that it’s opening day, one of the most glorious days on the sports calendar.
The Red Sox officially go from being champions to defending champions this afternoon in Baltimore, where they’ll face the Orioles for the first time this season.
Fortunately, the weather in Baltimore is much more kind to baseball, with the forecast calling for sunny skies and 60-degree temperatures for first pitch, which will come shortly after 3 p.m.
The Sox already made some news today by placing Shane Victorino on the disabled list and calling up Jackie Bradley Jr. Victorino’s been banged up all spring, fighting off a series of injuries already, so the team likely wants to take the safest route possible with getting him healthy for the long season. Mike Carp will start in right field in place of Victorino today.
Here’s a look at the full Sox lineup for opening day.
1. Daniel Nava, LF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Mike Carp, RF
6. Grady Sizemore, CF
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. A.J. Pierzynski, C
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
SP: Jon Lester
It’s definitely notthe lineup that won the World Series last year, but there’s a lot to be excited about. While you pretty much know what you’re getting at the top of the lineup, the bottom four spots are particularly intriguing. Grady Sizemore has obviously been the story of the spring, as he’s taken a huge first step toward returning to the field healthy. How long that can last is anyone’s guess, but it’s a nice story that he’s made it this far already.
I think we’re all excited to see the potential of Bogaerts in an everyday role, because we’ve been hearing he’s got Alex Rodriguez-type talent for a while now. There’s also this:
A.J. Pierzynski doesn’t exactly have huge shoes to fill, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasn’t exactly a catcher worthy of Cooperstown, and Will Middlebrooks remains a question mark at the bottom of the order. He was one of the best hitters on the team two years ago, but he ended up in Pawtucket by the middle of last year. Who is he, and how long will it take us to find out?
Obviously, we won’t get any definitive answers from one afternoon of baseball, but it does begin today.
Stick with the live blog for any and all updates leading up to the game and throughout every inning as the season officially begins for the world champion Boston Red Sox.MORE NEWS: Families Being Forced Out Of Malden Apartments By Charter School That Purchased Building