Red Sox Opening Day Vs. Phillies


It’s finally here! The moment Red Sox Nation has been waiting for: Opening Day.

Today, the Boston Red Sox begin their 2015 campaign to go from worst to first to worst and then back to first in four seasons. After a disappointing 2014, which followed the 2013 World Series Championship success, the Red Sox revamped their roster with a number of key acquisitions in the off-season.

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The game will be held in Philadelphia against the Phillies, a team clearly in a rebuilding phase. According to‘s Paul Hagen, “Club president Pat Gillick candidly said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t expect the Phillies to contend in 2015 or ’16. ‘I don’t think it’s in the cards. I think somewhere around 2017 or 2018,’ he said.”

To make things even more awkward in Philly, the pitching matchup, today, shines the spotlight on that fact, with Clay Buchholz chucking for the Red Sox against Phillies ace Cole Hamels, the man thoroughly linked to trade rumors involving the Red Sox. It has been well-documented that Hamels has expressed interest to leave Philadelphia, as he wants to play for a contender. It has also been well-documented that the Red Sox do not show signs, yet, that they have an ace pitcher in their starting rotation, words that can only irk Buchholz being put on the mound first.

The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo said, “Hamels has stopped talking about being traded after he told USA Today right before the start of spring training that he would be open to a deal to the Red Sox even though Boston is not on his trade list.” Hamels was quoted as saying, “This is where I am, and this is what I’m doing. To be able to pitch at Citizens Bank is going to be the vision I had. For what it is and what people want to make it, it doesn’t affect me. I’m just happy enough that I get to go pitch and get guys out and try to pitch a full season.”

Mar 26, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With that amount of attention for a player who isn’t even playing for the Red Sox, Bostonians’ focus on Buchholz has not been where it should be for a player leading a much criticized pitching rotation. And the irony of today’s game is not lost on the Red Sox ace-but-not-ace. The Boston Herald‘s Scott Lauber reported Buchholz stating, “Obviously, he’s got a really good track record and is a really good pitcher. I think everybody’s taking it as a challenge. Being here, with all the speculation and talks this offseason and spring training of the doubts as far as our staff, yeah, I don’t think it can be scripted any better.”

Instead of the hype centering around Hamels, all that Buchholz and his teammates have to do is to outplay the Phillies’ lefty. He is the one big name for which the Red Sox need to worry taking the mound. To put the series into perspective, Philly hasn’t even named their third starting pitcher yet, to face Justin Masterson. They don’t know whom it will be? They’ve had over a month to decide. Weakness is showing, hence why Philly wanted the moon for Hamels, in a trade.

Why give up breakout stars like starting center fielder Mookie Betts or top prospects like catcher Blake Swihart, if Hamels has openly settled on remaining with the Phillies for the season? The Red Sox and other teams have time to re-evaluate their situations and address their pitching situations, accordingly. If Buchholz and the rest of the starters play to their potential, they might not even need an ‘ace’ like Hamels. The question is: can Buchholz prove that?

As a note of interest, Hagen also reported that “for the series finale, players from both teams will wear replica 1915 caps, commemorating the centennial of the Phillies first World Series appearance,” against the Boston Red Sox. Just as a reminder, the Red Sox won that series 4-1.

Series Schedule @ Phillies (Citizens Bank Park):

  • Monday, April 6th @ 3:05 PM ET; Clay Buchholz vs. Cole Hamels
  • Wednesday, April 8th @ 7:05 PM ET; Rick Porcello vs. Aaron Harang
  • Thursday, April 9th @ 7:05 PM ET; Justin Masterson vs. TBD

***Note – Starting lineup cards will be tweeted @BoSoxInjection before each game

Red Sox Key Players To Watch:

  • Clay Buchholz – After earning an 8-11 record, last season, Buchholz could shut down the critics and trade rumors for good if he pitches better than Hamels, head-to-head. One way he could do that is to make his pitches look more convincing. has hitters only swinging at 30% of the pitches that Buchholz puts outside the strikezone. His numbers were similar to his 12-1 record in 2013, but it may be a case of his ‘magic’ wearing off of opposing batters.
  • Mookie Betts – The 22-year-old center fielder won the job, this spring, following up a breakout 52 games for the Red Sox in 2014. He will have a chance to show why he earned Red Sox manager John Farrell‘s support, as Betts will be the leadoff hitter in Boston’s potentially potent lineup.

Phillies Key Players To Watch:

  • Cole Hamels – Is he worth the trade? How much damage can Hamels do to keep the Red Sox off of the scoreboard? Considering the number of right-handed bats that the Red Sox are sporting, it could be a long night for either team, with the talent that each possesses.

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