Red Sox: Heroes and goats from the opening game against Tampa

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 29: Chris Sale /

The Boston Red Sox let one get away in their first game of 2018. With every game there are heroes and there are goats and here is the Red Sox list.

In football, the term “Trap Game” is often applied when a woefully overmatched opponent manages to win a game no one expected them to win.  The season opener for the Red Sox brought that to the surface for me.  Chris Sale was expected to easily handle a Rays team that has been sold off like they were in Storage Wars.

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Baseball has a way of taking an obvious win and turning it into an emotional wreck. Many forces conspired to make game one for the Red Sox a bitter disappointment.  Going into the last of the eighth inning the few Tampa fans could have an early release with the Red Sox up 4-0 and in cruise cotrol. That, however, had those same few begging for reëntry when the Rays pounced and walked for six runs.  With every contest, they are goats and heroes.  Here are a few.

Hero: What more could have been asked of Sale? Six innings of one-hit ball and nine strikeouts. If we were deeper into the season Sale would have tacked on a few more pitches to his 92 tossed.

Goat: Joe Kelly had a 4.2 BB/9 in 2017 and looks like Kelly wishes to build upon that. Kelly throws hard, but so did Steve Dalkowski.

Hero: Did Dustin Pedroia ever hit an inside the park home run?  His replacement Eduardo Nunez did just that. Nunez also added a double and had two RBI for the day.

Hero: Xander Bogaerts had a hot start for the season with three hits including a double. After a .273 season in 2017 Bogaerts is attempting to return to Silver Slugger form. Forget about getting nabbed at first.

Goat: Carson Smith may be in line as a setup for Craig Kimbrel. After his meltdown and Kelly’s, we can only say “Its just one game.” Smith takes both a loss and a blown save.

Goat: Home Plate umpire Jeff Nelson had a day best described as “inconsistent.” How much did his postage stamp size strike zone contribute to the fireworks? Maybe enough?

Hero: Matt Barnes is coming off an excellent 2017 and pitched a solid seventh. Looks like Barnes may be the first up out of the bullpen.

Goat: Top of the order. The first four hitters went one for 14 with Mookie Betts getting the lone hit. That is not the way to introduce a return to a Red Sox offensive juggernaut.

Hero: Red Sox fans.  The attendance at picturesque Tropicana Field was 31, 042 and it seemed that about 30,000 were Red Sox fans.

Next: Nunez picks up where he left off

Hero: Rafael Devers made no errors and smoked a line drive double to right field. Devers had a pair of RBI on the day.

Semi-Goat: Alex Cora made the smart move putting Mitch Moreland at first with a 4-0 lead. But what about going a bit too long with Kelly? And Nelson? A little fire when your pitchers are getting squeezed.

Hero: Jerry Remy was and is getting blunter with each season. The opening game was no exception especially on HP Nelson.