3 overreactions from the Red Sox's opening series split vs Mariners

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox opened their 2024 season with a four-game stint in Seattle against the Mariners. In some ways, the Sox fared better than anyone expected they would.

Some unexpected sluggers turned up for Boston this weekend and the starting rotation looked barely human, a stark change from last season even though it's essentially the same cast of players.

The Red Sox also had a lot of room for improvement, though. The Boston-Seattle series featured a lot of striking out and some less-than-impressive offense from both squads. Some errors and baserunning gaffes didn't help, either.

After the Sox's unexpected successes in the opening series, Red Sox Nation has a lot of mixed feelings to contend with.

3 overreactions from the Red Sox opening series against the Mariners

Wilyer Abreu definitely needed another stint in Triple-A

The Red Sox had some young stars and new players stand out over the weekend. Unfortunately for Wilyer Abreu, his performance did not rank among them.

Abreu had a rough opening to what is expected to be his first full big-league season. Manager Alex Cora gave Tyler O'Neill the start in right field on Opening Day, which ended up being a sound decision for more reasons than one.

Abreu went 1-for-7 at the plate with four strikeouts against Seattle's elite pitching — and facing such a dominant pitching staff may well be the cause of many of Boston's offensive woes. But Abreu's whiffs felt like they added up quicker than others. One of the times Abreu did get on base, he was swiftly caught stealing by Cal Raleigh which ended the inning and killed a scoring chance for Boston.

Abreu's strikeouts, baserunning mistakes, and troubling error in right field don't add up to a good weekend for someone who already has major league service time under their belt — Abreu's big-league debut last season was far better than the performance he showed against Seattle. The Red Sox could send Abreu back to Worcester to fine-tune his skills for later in the season if they had another outfielder to use in his stead, but since Rob Refsnyder is rehabbing a fractured toe, Boston will have to stick with what it has.

Tyler O’Neill is back to his 2021 MVP form

Boston's newest outfield acquisition has definitely earned the title "Mr. Opening Day."

Cora started O'Neill in right field over Abreu on March 28 so that the former Cardinal could have a shot at MLB history, and he made good on Cora's trust by homering in his fifth-consecutive Opening Day game -- a new baseball record. O'Neill's offense served as a nice spark for the Red Sox multiple times over the series.

O'Neill crushed two homers against Seattle's top-tier rotation, but he found other ways to get on base, too. He collected another two hits and three free passes, one of them intentional. He's scored four runs and stolen a base already, too.

His defense is already helping make a difference in the Sox outfield. He made multiple nice plays against the Mariners, including a janitor throw in right field on opening night to put a cherry on top of his first performance as a member of the Red Sox.

The outfielder hit 34 home runs for the Cardinals in 2021 and finished eighth in National League MVP voting that year. O'Neill hasn't come close to 34 bombs in a season since -- he hit just 14 in 2022 and nine in 2023. With two home runs in four games for the Red Sox. O'Neill may be well on his way to another MVP-caliber campaign.

Red Sox Opening Day roster bullpen decision could doom them

Boston's bullpen looked fierce to open the season, all things considered. But one choice could have saved them a game and earned them the series win.

The Sox and Mariners reached extra innings on March 30 and Boston tore out to a lead in the top of the 10th inning. RBI singles from Masataka Yoshida and Pablo Reyes put the Red Sox two runs ahead of Seattle and in a position to win.

But when Joely Rodríguez came out of the bullpen, the tides changed for Boston.

The first batter Rodríguez faced, Luke Raley, singled to score the ghost runner on second base. With one out, Josh Rojas singled to right and Abreu's fielding error kept everyone safe. Cora should've pulled Rodríguez right then and there, but he faced one more batter, who grounded into a fielder's choice to tie the game. Then Rodríguez was pulled and Cora put Justin Slaten in a terrible spot in his MLB debut, which cost the Sox the game.

Rodríguez also let up Dylan Moore's two-run homer from the Opening Day contest, which the Red Sox ended up winning, but the bomb brought the Mariners within a run.

The lefty has been unreliable for the Sox in the past and they have a better lefty in Worcester who could've been better suited to help Boston win on March 30. Brennan Bernardino was left off the Opening Day roster so the team could hold on to Rodríguez, as he could've opted out of his deal if he didn't make the team. While the Red Sox are short on lefties, Bernardino proved his worth last season and they could've had a winning record to begin the season had they played to their strengths.

Regardless of the opening series outcomes, there's a lot of baseball left to play and a lot of time for Bernardino to help the Red Sox. But had he been on the Opening Day roster, the Sox might have a differnent kind of momentum to begin their west coast road trip.

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