Red Sox bats are colder than Boston weather on Opening Day
The Red Sox were shut out by the Orioles on Opening Day
Many were pessimistic about the Boston Red Sox entering the season but few expected the offense to be the problem. It might be time to reevaluate after a dreadful Opening Day performance from this lineup.
The temperature in Boston hovered in the mid-30s on a frigid afternoon but the weather wasn’t nearly as ice cold as the Red Sox offense. John Means and the Baltimore Orioles bullpen held Boston’s bats scoreless to begin the season. This marks the first time the Red Sox have been shut out on Opening Day since 1976 when they were defeated by Jim Palmer and the O’s. Tip of the cap to Means for his brilliant performance but the lefty is certainly no Jim Palmer.
Kike Hernandez got the lineup started on the right foot with a base hit to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Unfortunately, this wasn’t foreshadowing an offensive explosion as it all went downhill from there.
Hernandez ended up getting picked off on a bizarre play where he nearly injured his ankle scrambling back to the bag. His foot came off first base for a split second, which proved enough for the umpires to rule him out upon video review despite no clear evidence the tag was on Hernandez for that brief window when his foot was in air.
The Red Sox wouldn’t present a legitimate threat to score until the eighth inning when they put two runners on base with a pair of walks. That brought Bobby Dalbec to the plate needing a three-run homer to tie the game, which happens to be one of the things the rookie slugger does best. Dalbec ended up striking out – the other thing he does best – to end the inning.
J.D. Martinez tried to give Boston a spark in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out double but Xander Bogaerts quickly lined out to end the game.
Two hits, two walks and a runner who reached on an error. That’s all the Red Sox could muster against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. Granted, Means is their ace and a solid pitcher who was an All-Star and runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award in 2019. He had some of his best outings of his career against the Red Sox that year so he should have entered the game with some confidence.
A slow start at the plate isn’t entirely unexpected considering the number of key hitters in this lineup who struggled in spring training. Rafael Devers (.212), Alex Verdugo (.231) and Bogaerts (.229) were all still trying to find their swings when the team broke camp this week.
There’s too much talent in this lineup for the Red Sox to be held in check for long. Maybe it was the cold weather or the altered schedule resulting from the opener being postponed a day. It was frustrating to watch but we can’t overreact to one game.
The Red Sox lost on Opening Day in 2004, 2007 and 2018. They dismantled this same Orioles team 13-2 to open the 2020 season. We know how each of those seasons panned out. One game ultimately means very little over the course of a 162-game season.
There are still reasons to be concerned about this team, but as Dennis Eckersley would say, I’d bet the farm that the Red Sox are going to score some runs this season.