By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Baseball — real baseball — returned to Boston on Friday. The Red Sox celebrated appropriately, to the tune of a 13-2 victory.
Sure, their Opening Day opponent was the woeful Baltimore Orioles — a team almost unanimously believed to be the worst team in Major League Baseball this season. Undoubtedly, the impotence of the visiting team was a contributing factor to the way that events unfolded at Fenway Park on Friday evening. Nevertheless, for one night — one very important night — all was right for the Boston Red Sox.
In fact … it was just about perfect.
That included starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who slid up into the top spot of the rotation in place of Eduardo Rodriguez, who remains out after a COVID-19 infection. The flame-throwing right-hander started the night with a crisp 1-2-3 first inning, and he didn’t stop until he turned a performance in which he looked better than he had through the entirety of his injury-plagued 2019 season. Eovaldi allowed just one run in his six innings of work, allowing five hits with one walk while striking out four.
But, it was only against the Orioles.
Yep, still nasty. pic.twitter.com/jiKcLWuKAl
— Red Sox (@RedSox) July 25, 2020
It included the offense, which is expected to maintain a high level of production this season, even without Mookie Betts in the fold anymore. The bats awoke in the bottom of the third, when Jackie Bradley Jr., Jose Peraza, J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar wore out the left field line with four nearly identical doubles. A Rafael Devers walk mixed among those extra-base hits helped the Red Sox open a 4-0 lead. An inning later, the Red Sox tallied five hits with three free passes, increasing that lead to 10-0. In the sixth, the Red Sox tacked on three more to build a 13-1 lead.
They’d finish the game with 17 hits, 10 of which came with runners in scoring position. Five different Red Sox had multi-hit nights, with newcomer Jose Peraza going 4-for-5 in his Red Sox debut.
It was a dominant offensive showing. But … it came against the Orioles.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) July 25, 2020
It also included a little bit of defense, with the newcomer Pillar making a catch in a full sprint before slamming into the right field wall to record the first out of the game.
Rafael Devers did commit a throwing error in the fourth inning, though manager Ron Roenicke likely would have negated it if he had challenged the call on the field. That debate was rendered moot moments later, when first baseman Michael Chavis turned an unassisted double play to end the inning.
Even the bullpen — considered to be a real 2020 question mark — finished the job. Austin Brice and Phillips Valdez combined to allow just one run over the final three innings, with Valdez ending the game with a strikeout of Rio Ruiz. Valdez allowed zero hits in his two innings of work, though he did hit two batters.
Put it all together, and it was exactly how Roenicke might have drawn up his vision of a perfect baseball game.
Yes, it was only against the Orioles. But it counts. And in a season with just 60 games and in a season with an expanded postseason field, it counts a lot more than anybody has ever been accustomed to.
So on Opening Day, the one day every year when every team still has hope, the Red Sox put forth the type of showing that lets you believe that there just might be a little something cooking in this strange, unprecedented season.
The pregame ceremony, which incorporated the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the park, included Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Verdugo dropping to a knee during the singing of the national anthem. … Kevin Pillar, Jonathan Lucroy, Jonathan Arauz, Austin Brice, and Phillips Valdez made their Red Sox debuts. Pillar went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Peraza went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored out of the nine-hole. … J.D. Martinez and Bradley also had three hits apiece, with Martinez driving in three runs and Bradley driving in two. … Nathan Eovaldi wears jersey No. 17, but he came out in the third inning sporting the No. 7 on his back. When he returned for the fourth inning, he was back to wearing his usual No. 17. … The Red Sox and Orioles will get back at it on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. before closing out the series on Sunday afternoon. Left-hander Martin Perez will make his Red Sox debut as Saturday’s starter.