Final, Orioles 2-1: The Red Sox made some ninth-inning noise, but they once again failed to cash in with runners on base. Boston opens its World Series defense with a one-run loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Will Middlebrooks was hit by a pitch to begin the ninth inning. He moved up to second base two batters later when Dustin Pedroia singled into center field. Pedroia nearly struck out one pitch prior to singling, but he barely checked his swing to keep the at-bat alive.
David Ortiz threatened to send a ball into the left-center field gap with one out, but Nelson Cruz tracked it down for the second out. Jackie Bradley Jr., who entered the game as a pinch runner in the eighth inning, struck out looking against Tommy Hunter to end the game with runners on first and second. Bradley thought the pitch was high.
Nelson Cruz’s solo home run in the seventh inning was the difference. Grady Sizemore tied things at one apiece in the fourth inning with his first regular-season home run since 2011, but Cruz led off the seventh with his first homer in an Orioles uniform.
Jon Lester pitched well despite suffering the loss. The left-hander gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one.
The Red Sox simply couldn’t capitalize whenever they began to mount a threat. Boston hitters went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
The Red Sox and Orioles will battle in Baltimore again on Wednesday. John Lackey will take the ball for Boston.
End 8th, Orioles 2-1: Tommy Hunter was named the Orioles’ closer Monday. He’ll have an opportunity to earn his first save of 2014 on Opening Day.
Hunter will enter with the Orioles clinging to a one-run lead, as Junichi Tazawa worked a scoreless eighth inning for the Red Sox.
Tazawa induced two ground ball outs before striking out J.J. Hardy to end the inning.
Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia are due up for Boston in the ninth inning.
Mid 8th, Orioles 2-1: The Red Sox threatened but could not score in the eighth inning. They’ve left 10 men on base.
Mike Napoli worked a leadoff walk against Evan Meek and was lifted for a pinch runner in Jackie Bradley Jr. after advancing to second base on Mike Carp’s eventful groundout.
Carp hit a sharp grounder to the right side that deflected off first baseman Chris Davis and back toward the mound. Meek bobbled it but managed to recover in time to throw out Carp.
Grady Sizemore struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt for the second out of the eighth inning. Xander Bogaerts followed with a walk, which prompted Buck Showalter to make a pitching change.
Brian Matusz retired A.J. Pierzynski on a comebacker, ending Boston’s first-and-second threat.
Jon Lester’s day is done after seven innings. Junichi Tazawa will pitch the eighth inning for the Sox.
There also are some defensive changes. Bradley remains in the game in right field. Daniel Nava shifts from right field to left field while Carp moves to first base.
End 7th, Orioles 2-1: Nelson Cruz knows how to make a good first impression.
Cruz, who signed with Baltimore over the offseason, crushed his first home run in an Orioles uniform in the seventh inning to give the O’s a 2-1 lead. The blast landed beyond the left field wall, and the fans at Camden Yards showered the slugger with chants of “Cruuuuz!”
It was Jon Lester’s only mistake of the seventh inning and one of just a few made by the left-hander in this game. Lester struck out the next three hitters, giving him eight strikeouts total.
Mid 7th, 1-1: The Red Sox’s offense failed to get anything going in the seventh inning.
The top of Boston’s order — Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz — went down without a fight in the seventh.
All three hitters put the ball on the ground against Zach Britton, who was very effective in two innings of relief.
End 6th, 1-1: Jon Lester has been a lot more economical with his pitches than Chris Tillman was during his five innings for the O’s.
Lester’s pitch count sits at 92 after six innings. The lefty has been sharp, striking out five, including two in the sixth inning.
Lester struck out Nick Markakis to open the inning and Chris Davis to end the inning. Adam Jones singled with two outs, but it didn’t lead to any major threat.
Mid 6th, 1-1: The Red Sox stranded Xander Bogaerts at third base in the sixth inning.
Zach Britton became the first Orioles reliever used in 2014. He replaced Chris Tillman at the beginning of the sixth inning after 104 pitches from the O’s starter.
Bogaerts, who flied out to the warning track in the second inning, collected his first hit of 2014 in the sixth. Bogaerts went the other way for a one-out double after Grady Sizemore was retired for the first time this season. (Sizemore grounded out to short in the sixth.)
Bogaerts advanced to third base when A.J. Pierzynski grounded out. Will Middlebrooks followed with a hot shot to the left side, but third baseman Ryan Flaherty snagged it and fired across the diamond to end Boston’s threat.
End 5th, 1-1: Jon Lester enjoyed a nice, clean inning in the fifth.
Lester retired Delmon Young, Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop in order. Schoop struck out swinging on a good-looking cutter.
Will Middlebrooks’ throw across the diamond to retire Young almost sailed away, but first baseman Mike Napoli made a nice stretch to complete the out.
Mid 5th, 1-1: The Red Sox produced some loud outs in the fifth inning.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz each gave one a ride. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it resulted in nothing more than two long outs.
Adam Jones hauled in Pedroia’s deep drive before banging into the center field wall. Jones then raced down Ortiz’s warning track shot in left-center field.
Mike Napoli walked with two outs, but Chris Tillman made sure it didn’t come back to haunt him. Tillman retired Mike Carp on a softly hit ground ball to the left side.
End 4th, 1-1: Jon Lester worked around a leadoff single in the fourth inning.
Adam Jones led off with a single into right field. Lester retired the next three hitters he faced.
Chris Davis nearly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play but beat out Dustin Pedroia’s throw to first base. Pedroia was disrupted by Jones, who went flying into second base with a hard take-out slide.
Nelson Cruz popped out to Pedroia in shallow right field for the inning’s second out. Matt Wieters struck out to end the frame.
Mid 4th, 1-1: Grady Sizemore is starting his Red Sox tenure with a bang.
Sizemore, playing in his first regular-season game since 2011, launched a solo homer in the fourth inning. He’s now 2-for-2 — he singled in his first at-bat of the season.
Sizemore’s blast landed on top of the big wall in right field and bounced back onto the field of play. The 31-year-old motored around the bases but soon learned the good news that it was ruled a home run.
What an incredible story Sizemore’s comeback attempt has been so far. It once looked like Sizemore’s career could be over. Now, the three-time All-Star has the look of an impact player.
A.J. Pierzynski also collected his first hit as a member of the Red Sox in the fourth inning.
End 3rd, Orioles 1-0: The Red Sox used a well-executed, 5-4-3 double play to get out of the third inning.
Jonathan Schoop led off with a single, but Jon Lester bounced back to retire Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy.
Hardy grounded sharply to third base, where Will Middlebrooks kicked off the nifty, inning-ending twin killing.
Mid 3rd, Orioles 1-0: The Red Sox couldn’t capitalize with two men in scoring position in the third inning.
Chris Tillman recorded back-to-back ground ball outs before running into some trouble. David Ortiz, who actually fell behind in the count 0-2, beat the shift for a single into right field. Mike Napoli doubled over Nelson Cruz’s head in left field.
Mike Carp was unable to put Boston on the scoreboard. Carp struck out swinging on a curveball in the dirt to end the Red Sox’s threat.
End 2nd, Orioles 1-0: The Orioles pushed across the game’s first run on a unique double play.
Nelson Cruz fell behind in the count 0-2 before battling his way back and working a leadoff walk. Cruz went from first to third moments later when Matt Wieters singled into left-center field.
Delmon Young then hit a soft ground ball to Dustin Pedroia at second base. Pedroia went to tag Wieters, who — like you’re supposed to do in that situation — dropped to the ground between first base and second base. Pedroia wasn’t able to apply the tag before firing to first for the out there, but Mike Napoli threw to second base to retire Wieters, who wasn’t able to get up and make it to his intended destination in time. As all of this went down, Cruz trotted home from third base.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Grady Sizemore ripped a single in his first regular-season at-bat since 2011.
Mike Carp and Sizemore produced back-to-back singles to open the second inning. It then looked like Xander Bogaerts was going to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead with one swing, but the 21-year-old’s home run bid came up just short. Nelson Cruz raced back and made the catch on the warning track before banging into the wall.
Chris Tillman escaped the second-inning jam by retiring A.J. Pierzynski and Will Middlebrooks. Pierzynski flied out to center field, and Middlebrooks struck out looking on a pitch located in the bottom half of the strike zone.
End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester yielded a one-out single to J.J. Hardy, but otherwise was sharp in his first inning of work.
Nick Markakis grounded to third base to begin Baltimore’s first set of at-bats. Will Middlebrooks, who said in spring training he worked extensively on his defense over the offseason, handled his first try of 2014.
Hardy singled into left field, but Lester bounced back to retire Adam Jones and Chris Davis. Jones popped out to shortstop Xander Bogaerts in shallow center field, and Davis, who is coming off a monster 2013 season, struck out swinging.
Lester’s cutter was very good in the first inning. But then again, it’s always pretty damn good.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia’s 2014 laser show is underway. Pedroia lined a single into right field in his first at-bat of the season.
Pedroia’s one-out knock was the Red Sox’s only offense of the first inning, though. Chris Tillman capped a scoreless first frame with back-to-back strikeouts.
Daniel Nava led off with a good at-bat in which he saw a gazillion pitches. Well, not really. But it was a lengthy battle that ended when Nava hit a little dribbler to the left of the mound. Tillman charged off the hill to make the play.
Tillman struck out David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to end the inning. Both hitters were put away with overpowering fastballs up in the zone.
Fun fact: Pedroia’s first-inning single makes him the only Red Sox player in the last century to collect a hit in each of his first eight Opening Day games, all in consecutive years.
3:15 p.m.: Daniel Nava takes a first-pitch strike. The Red Sox’s 2014 season is underway.
2:59 p.m.: This marks the first time the Red Sox have opened up against the Orioles since 2004. We all know what happened that year.
Jon Lester is taking the ball for Boston, and the left-hander has said several times since being tabbed as the Opening Day starter that it’s an honor. This marks Lester’s fourth consecutive Opening Day start — the most since Pedro Martinez started seven in a row from 1998 to 2004. CC Sabathia, making his ninth straight Opening Day start, is the only left-hander with a longer active streak.
The Red Sox really set the tempo for their season on Opening Day last year. It’s almost time to see what 2014 holds.
Grab a beverage and get ready. We’re minutes away from the season’s first pitch.
2:50 p.m.: The teams are being introduced at Camden Yards. Orioles manager Buck Showalter received a nice ovation.
2:40 p.m.: If you’re looking for an awesome interactive fan experience, be sure to check out NESN Nation. There will be plenty of great Red Sox discussions going on this season.
2:34 p.m.: It’ll be interesting to see how manager John Farrell approaches being without Shane Victorino for an unknown amount of time.
The skipper said before Monday’s game that the Red Sox will use a rotation of their five outfielders, but it’s reasonable to think Jackie Bradley Jr. will see a good chunk of playing time because of his defensive prowess. Bradley also will see time in center field as the Red Sox closely monitor Grady Sizemore’s workload in the early going.
Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, and the left-hander is shooting to be available then.
2:05 p.m.: Opening Day is awesome for a variety of reasons. It marks a new beginning, which some teams desperately need.
The Red Sox would be thrilled if their 2013 success spilled over into the new year. It doesn’t sound like the club is taking anything for granted, though, as several players pointed out in recent days that it’s a new season and last year’s World Series run has nothing to do with this year’s journey.
Opening Day also is a good time to make bold predictions that might or might not look foolish in October. Below are an assortment of links you might want to glance over before the Red Sox kick off their regular-season schedule.
12:55 p.m.: Buck Showalter’s lineup card is in.
Nick Markakis has been dealing with some neck spasms, but the outfielder took batting practice at Camden Yards on Monday and he’ll give it a go. Markakis will lead off and play right field.
The Orioles’ complete lineup is below. It’s also worth noting that Tommy Hunter has been named the club’s closer to begin the season.
Nick Markakis, RF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Adam Jones, CF
Chris Davis, 1B
Nelson Cruz, LF
Matt Wieters, C
Delmon Young, DH
Ryan Flaherty, 3B
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Chris Tillman, RHP
11:20 a.m.: Jackie Bradley Jr. won’t be in Monday’s starting lineup. Mike Carp instead will get the nod in Shane Victorino’s place. Carp will play left field while Daniel Nava shifts over to right field.
Nava will lead off for Boston. Carp will bat fifth and Grady Sizemore will bat sixth.
Monday’s complete lineup is below.
Boston Red Sox
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Grady Sizemore, CF
Xander Bogaerts, SS
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jon Lester, LHP
11 a.m. ET: The Boston Red Sox’s World Series defense is about to get underway.
The Red Sox will kick off their 2014 regular-season slate with a divisional clash against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Jon Lester will take the ball for Boston on Opening Day — just like he’s done the last three Opening Days. The left-hander will face Chris Tillman.
The Sox look primed to contend again in 2014, as many of the same pieces remain in place. Boston was dealt a blow Monday, though, as outfielder Shane Victorino was placed on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a hamstring strain in Saturday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Minnesota Twins. Jackie Bradley Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Victorino’s place on the roster.
The Red Sox are 55-57-1 all time on Opening Day. One of those 55 wins came last season, when the Red Sox took down the New York Yankees and set the tone for what ultimately would be a special season in Boston. The Red Sox were the first team since the 1982 Chicago White Sox to open the season with a win against the Yankees in New York.
Monday’s season opener is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Be sure to tune in on NESN, and stick around with NESN.com throughout the day.