Red Sox shouldn’t worry about Opening Day loss

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 22: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2018 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 22: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2018 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Opening Day didn’t turn out quite how we expected for the Boston Red Sox but it’s not time to hit the panic button yet on this 2019 season.

This season can only get better from here for the Boston Red Sox. The brutal 12-4 shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Mariners was painful to watch but it doesn’t have to set the tone for 2019.

I have a sneaky suspicion that the Red Sox won’t go 0-162 this year. It’s not hard to imagine this team turning things around quickly and ripping off nine straight wins to charge out to a commanding lead in the American League standings. You know, kind of like they did last year after dropping their first game of the season in Tampa Bay.

Remember last year when fans wanted to run Joe Kelly out of town after he blew the first game of the season by coughing up four runs while recording only one out? A couple weeks later, Kelly was a folk hero in Boston for igniting a brawl with the Yankees. Kelly left to sign with the Dodgers in free agency and we’re left wishing we still had him in our bullpen.

A loss on Opening Day wasn’t the disaster we painted it as last year. In fact, the Red Sox lost their first game in 2018, 2007, and 2004. As you may recall, those seasons turned out fine.

As discouraging as it was to see Chris Sale get knocked around, we have to view this outing in its proper perspective. The Red Sox limited Sale throughout spring training, preventing him from getting in as much work as he is accustomed to. The light workload should prove beneficial in the long run but we shouldn’t be all that surprised if he isn’t quite as sharp in the early going. His trademark slider looked a bit flat but he’ll regain his feel for the devastating pitch as he gets more work in. His velocity is down by design. He’s clearly holding back in order to gradually build himself up for the long haul. Unfortunately, mistakes at 92-93 mph are easier to exploit than fastballs hurled in the upper-90’s. As long as he’s healthy, their’s no doubt the ace will right the ship.

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We knew the bullpen was a problem entering the season and Opening Day did nothing to squash those concerns. Hector Velazquez was a fringe choice to earn a roster spot and only entered this game when it was already out of hand. Tyler Thornburg continues to be a frustrating enigma with upside too tantalizing to give up on and downside that prevents us from trusting him in close games. If these guys can’t get the job done, Boston will find someone else who can – either by internal promotions or trade.

As for the lineup, four runs is nothing to scoff at. The Red Sox collected 11 hits but those hits were too scattered to do any real damage. It’d be nice to see them string a few more together and come through a bit more in the clutch but it’s not as if the offense was shut down. This is still a loaded lineup that will be among the best in baseball.

There’s no sugar coating a tough loss when you give up 12 runs, the most any reigning World Series champion has given up on Opening Day. It was a horrible display yet it still only counts as one loss. The Red Sox can turn the page and get back on track by taking out their frustrations on this Mariners team tonight.

Next. Red Sox Roundtable: 2019 Predictions. dark

The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. Losses and poor performances are magnified early in the season because we have little else to analyze. A week, a month, six months later, what happened on Opening Day will be forgotten. It doesn’t matter how you start, only how you finish. There’s no doubt that this Red Sox team has the talent to finish among the elite.