Red Sox Notes: Mookie Betts Joins Elite Company With Opening Day Homer

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PHILADELPHIA — Did you catch your breath yet?

The Boston Red Sox started their 2015 season Monday with an exhilarating 8-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. All eight runs scored on home runs, as Boston hit five total (four solo shots and a grand slam).

It was an impressive performance across the board for the Red Sox, who improved to 56-58-1 all time on Opening Day (not including Game 2 of their doubleheaders in 1903, 1948 and 1982). Boston and Philadelphia will square off again Wednesday and Thursday in the City of Brotherly Love.

Let’s run down some day-after notes from the Red Sox’s season-opening win.

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— Clay Buchholz killed it.

— It’s funny how sports work sometimes.

Mookie Betts faced Cole Hamels to start the season after an entire offseason of trade speculation involving the individuals. Hamels won the first battle, but Betts ultimately won the war.

Betts showed incredibly quick hands in the third inning while turning on a first-pitch fastball located inside. He pulled it into the left field seats for his first home run of 2015.

“Well, unless he lost his swing on the flight up here, he’s going to put some good swings on some pitches,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, alluding to the 22-year-old’s excellent spring training. “He’s on time seemingly all the time when he’s at the plate.”

The always laid-back Betts said afterward that he didn’t really have a game plan before his home run. The young outfielder consistently insists he tries to not overthink things, and Monday’s contest was no different despite it being his first Opening Day at the major league level.

— Betts’ performance came with some very interesting side notes.

Betts, 22, became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a home run on Opening Day since Tony Conigliaro (20 years old) in 1965.

Mike Trout (2014) and Bryce Harper (2013) were the only major leaguers over the last three seasons to homer on Opening Day before turning 23 years old.

Then there’s this:

— Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez became the first Red Sox players to have multihomer games on Opening Day since Carlton Fisk blasted two home runs against the New York Yankees on April 6, 1973.

— Pedroia became only the second second baseman in Major League Baseball history to have a multihomer game on Opening Day. Felipe Lopez did it for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009.

— Pedroia has hit safely in all nine of his Opening Day games. He’s batting .421 (16-for-38) in those contests with four homers and seven RBIs.

— Ramirez hit a broken-bat grand slam in the ninth inning. The grand slam was the sixth of Ramirez’s career and his first since July 2, 2011, against the Texas Rangers.

Fisk (1973) and Jack Clark (1991) are the only other players to hit a grand slam for the Red Sox on Opening Day.

— Shane Victorino received some nice ovations from Phillies fans. Victorino played seven-plus seasons for Philadelphia from 2005 to 2012. He won a World Series with the Phils in 2008.

— Joe Kelly (78 pitches over five innings) and Steven Wright (94 pitches over six innings) each pitched Monday at the Red Sox’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Red Sox manager John Farrell hasn’t ruled out Kelly (biceps) pitching Saturday against the Yankees, but it sounds like Wright is the more likely candidate. The Red Sox ideally would like Kelly to throw 95 pitches before making his regular-season debut.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images

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