Jackie Bradley Jr. Shakes Off Rough Ending; Other Red Sox Opening Day Notes


Opening DayThe Boston Red Sox’s World Series defense started off on a sour note Monday.

The Red Sox dropped a 2-1 decision to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Opening Day. Jon Lester pitched well for Boston, but the Red Sox’s offense couldn’t produce big hits in key spots.

Losing one game in baseball isn’t anything to get worked up about. There are 161 more for the Red Sox to find their way, with the next one coming Wednesday night.

Let’s go over the good, the bad and the ugly of Monday’s season-opening loss.

– Jon Lester looked overpowering at times. The left-hander definitely was a hard-luck loser.

Lester gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one while throwing 104 pitches (73 strikes). Lester really started missing bats as he got deeper into the game, but one mistake to Nelson Cruz in the seventh inning cost him.

– Grady Sizemore, playing in his first regular-season game since Sept. 22, 2011, started his 2014 season with a bang. Sizemore went deep as part of a 2-for-4 effort.

Sizemore’s home run was his first regular-season blast in 991 days. His last home run — hit off Jake Arietta on July 15, 2011 — also came at Camden Yards.

– A few well-struck balls appeared to die because of the wind at Camden Yards. Xander Bogaerts, who produced an opposite field double Monday, nearly drilled a three-run blast in the second inning, but Cruz raced back to grab it at the warning track.

– Dustin Pedroia is the only Sox player in the last century to collect a hit in each of his first eight Opening Day games, all in consecutive years.

Pedroia went 2-for-4 with two singles.

– The Red Sox had nine hits to the Orioles’ six. However, Boston went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.

The Red Sox left four men on base over the final two innings.

– Manager John Farrell made a few interesting decisions in the later innings. He replaced Mike Napoli with a pinch runner (Jackie Bradley Jr.), opted not to pinch hit for A.J. Pierzynski against lefty Brian Matusz and then kept Bradley in the contest for a game-ending at-bat despite Jonny Gomes still available on the bench.

Farrell had reasons for each decision, though, and the Red Sox skipper wasn’t looking to play Monday morning quarterback after the game.

“Yeah, that’s going to be one that you open yourself up to,” Farrell said of replacing Napoli with Bradley. “But knowing that (Tommy) Hunter was going to be closing things out, left-handers have had much more success against him, there was a willingness to do it a little bit more in that situation. We’re trying to scramble to scratch out a run and tie things up. Not second-guessing the move.”

– Junichi Tazawa pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

– Bradley, who was sent down Friday and recalled Monday because of Shane Victorino’s injury, struck out looking to end the game. The young outfielder didn’t agree with two calls during the at-bat but told reporters after the game he was “very comfortable” in the box despite the unpleasant results.

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