When the Red Sox suffered their sixth straight loss to start the season, they directed their thoughts toward the home opener, expressing hope and expectancy that the crowd at Fenway Park would offer up the requisite support.
One of the players most forceful with his words was Dustin Pedroia, who said, "You're either two feet in now or you're two feet out. Let us know because we're coming."
Aside from a few boo-birds when John Lackey gave up some early runs, the fans offered up plenty of support and a positive reaction to seeing their team for the first time in Fenway Park. Just in case, Pedroia took it upon himself to provide a lift.
"He is our sparkplug," said Adrian Gonzalez, keenly aware of Pedroia's presence after just seven games playing alongside him.
After Lackey gave up two runs in the top of the first inning, visions of another frustrating afternoon and an 0-7 start began to float around Fenway. But Pedroia launched the eighth pitch of the game from Phil Hughes into the first row of the Monster seats to get his team on the board.
It was Pedroia's first home run of the year and his first since that memorable three-homer game at Colorado last June. It was also the third straight year he had gone deep in the home opener, a feat accomplished only once before in Red Sox history (Fred Lynn, 1978-80).
To Pedroia, it was just a matter of doing what he needed to do.
"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," he said. "Just wanted to square it up. I was lucky enough to squeak it out of here."
Lackey allowed another run in the second, but Pedroia's two-run single in the bottom half and his subsequent dash home on an Adrian Gonzalez base hit highlighted a five-run rally and really fired up the faithful.
"He gave us a huge lift," Terry Francona said.
One other newcomer said he could see Pedroia's intensity level increase as the losses piled up this week, and knew that it could spell trouble for the Yankees.
"I noticed it playing against him but once you get in the same room as him, he takes it to a whole new level," said Bobby Jenks, who threw a scoreless seventh. "It almost seems as if the more pissed off he gets the better he gets."
New York might want to keep Pedroia happy the rest of the series.
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