Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1 9 0 Orioles - 010 000 10x - 2 6 0Nelson Cruz lined Jon Lester's first pitch of the seventh inning - and the lefty's 93rd of the afternoon - into the left field seats, snapping a 1-1 tie. And although the Red Sox put two runners on base in both the eighth and ninth innings, they dropped the season's first game. (Cruz also walked and scored the Orioles' first run.)
Mike Napoli walked to begin the Boston eighth inning against Evan Meek. Napoli took second on Mike Carp's groundout to first and then was pulled for pinch-runner Jackie Bradley. Grady Sizemore - who singled in the second and homered to right in the fourth in his first major league game since September 2011 - struck out. Xander Bogaerts walked. Reliever Brian Matusz got ahead of A.J. Pierzynski 0-2 and got the Red Sox catcher to ground back to the mound.
Tommy Hunter, newly anointed closer for the Orioles, began the ninth inning by plunking Will Middlebrooks with a 1-1 pitch. After Daniel Nava popped to third (ending an 0-for-5 day at the top of the lineup), Dustin Pedroia lined a single to center. With the potential tying run at second, David Ortiz flied to left and Bradley was called out on strikes.
Boston left 12 men on base and was 0-for-10 with RATS.
Despite the score looking like a pitchers' duel, Lester (7-6-2-1-8, 104) and Chris Tillman (5-7-1-1-4, 104) spent a lot of time working out of the stretch. In the 12 half-innings pitched by the starters, there was only one 1-2-3 inning (Lester's fifth).
Boston pushed Tillman around a bit in the second, as Carp and Sizemore led off with singles. But Bogaerts flied to deep left, Pierzynski flied to deep center, and Middlebrooks was caught looking. With two outs in the third, Ortiz singled and Napoli doubled, but Carp ended the threat by striking out.
Lester got ahead of Cruz 0-2 to start the Baltimore second, but ended up walking him on eight pitches. Cruz took third on Matt Wieters's flare over shortstop, and scored on an unusual 4-3-6 double play. After that, Lester did not allow an Orioles runner past first base until Cruz's dong to kick off the seventh. Cruz improved his career average against Lester to .458 (11-for-24).
Pedroia's two singles meant that FY has hit in his first eight consecutive Opening Day games, something no Red Sox player has done for at least 100 years.
The Red Sox are off tomorrow. John Lackey gets the start on Wednesday night.
Nava, LFConsecutive Red Sox Opening Day Starts
Pedro Martinez 7 (1998-2004) Roger Clemens 7 (1988-1994) Dennis Eckersley 5 (1979-1983) Cy Young 5 (1904-1908) Jon Lester 4 (2011-2014) Six tied with 3, including Babe RuthDustin Pedroia has hit safely in all seven of his career openers (2007-13): .393, 11-for-28. In the last 100 years, no Red Sox player has hit safely in his first eight career Opening Day games. (Which seems to indicate that it has been done before, but the Red Sox Game Notes give no additional information.)
Will Middlebrooks is getting used to wearing contact lenses on the field. ... Shane Victorino had an MRI on his right hamstring yesterday and has been placed on the disabled list; Jackie Bradley, Jr. was called up. ... The 2004 Red Sox also began the season in Baltimore. They lost their first game, 7-2.
A journey of 162+ games begins with a single pitch...