It’s hard to imagine that today’s opener against the Yankees in the Bronx felt like like both a continuation of the story and an important opportunity to turn the page. Jon Lester‘s stellar spring was on the line and a mature beyond his years rookie playing left field in the The Show was a riveting backdrop as a new Red Sox lineup and an injury plagued Yankee contingent squared off. If you are Red Sox fan it was a dream. If you were a Yankees fan it was a nightmare. If you were Jackie Bradley‘s mother you probably cried.
Lester went five complete innings, holding the Bombers to two runs while the Boston offense thumped CC Sabathia and five New York relievers to nail down the 8-2 win. Sabathia gave up four runs as did the Yankee bullpen. Boston’s quintet of Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa and Joel Hanrahan posted a goose egg as Boston became the first team since 1982 to hand New York a home opener loss.
Lester was sharp over his five innings of work, throwing 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. He struck out seven and walked just two. After Boston spotted him with a 4-0 lead Lester ran into trouble in the fourth. With two out he left a pitch over the plate to New York’s number nine hitter Francisco Cervelli who laced a double down the left field line to score Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells. Lester bent but didn’t break, inducing Brett Gardner to line out to Shane Victorino to end the inning.
Lester and company were the defensive story. A couple of Boston Opening Day first timers helped inflict a lot of the offensive damage.
Although his stat line didn’t show it (2 AB, 0 hits, 1 run scored) Jackie Bradley Jr. was in the center of the action all day. He drew two cool-headed walks, one in Boston’s four-run second against Sabathia that kept the inning alive. On the next play, a Jose Iglesias single off the glove of Eduardo Nunez that died in the infield, Bradley hustled and beat the attempted force out at second base and later scored along with Iglesias on a Victorino two-run single. Although getting turned around a bit, Bradley ended up making a nice catch on a tough play to end the third inning with Gardner on second base. Bradley walked in the ninth and scored again on another Victorino single.
As expected defensive specialist Iglesias gobbled up everything in sight at shortstop. What was unexpected and a very pleasant surprise was his terrorization of the Yankees from the number nine spot in the order. Iggy was 3-5 with a run scored and an RBI. You can’t ask for more. If this kid keeps hitting, Stephen Drew might have a hard time getting his job back.
After the 2012 that this team and their fans endured this win was about as good as it gets on Opening Day.
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