Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Red Sox 2016 Opening Day 4.5.16

Photo: from ESPN.go.com. This could've been Price about to pitch during today's game, but it wasn't. Game time temperature was 34 degrees in Cleveland.

The game worked exactly as the Sox would've drawn up: the starting pitcher goes 6 or 7 innings, then you finish up with an inning each from your best relievers--Tazawa, Uehara and Kimbrel. That's what happened in this 6-2 win.

With a little bit of help from a truly terrible day behind the plate from John Hirschbeck, who had a strike zone that extended a good couple of inches (or about a foot for Napoli and Bogaerts) to the outside, the Sox best pitchers--the three relievers and David Price, their $30+ million per year ace--pitched well and made this look easy.

A few notes:

--the Sox were patient with Corey Kluber, who walked more batters and who gave up more hits than usual. He allowed 9 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, and went to a lot of three-ball counts. He threw 96 pitches in just 5 1/3 innings.

--Price gave up 5 hits and 2 walks in his 6 innings, and struck out 10. He had great pace out there, and was helped out considerably by the wider strike zone. He saw that the pitch 2 inches on the outside of the zone was going to be a strike, and he kept throwing it to that exact spot.

--Napoli, especially in his last at-bat, was a victim of this. He had very good at-bats, especially the first K and his walk, and he deserved better. It was good to see him take pitches and field well, as usual. He can still play, even if not over the course of a full season. And nice sunglasses!

--Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley had very good at-bats. Shaw did, too, even though he struck out three times. Actually, twice, because that last strike three was in another time zone. The young core did well.

--Shaw's K came with the bases loaded, and that could have been haunting had things turned out differently. But they didn't.

--My guess is that Swihart missed a sign, but Bradley could have, too. But Swihart wasn't running on his own with just a two-run lead at the time.

--The next time Hanley Ramirez stands and admires one of his shots, like David Ortiz did after his last Opening Day homerun, it had better go out. His single that should have been a double should earn him a fine from the team. And not by a kangaroo court.

--Having said that, it was good to see him playing with fire, though it's a good thing that throw to third was off-line. Had he been out, as he should have been, I wouldn't be as forgiving. But it was good to see that intensity, and again when he clapped as he scored after Holt's bloop fell in. We didn't see him playing with that fire last year.

--Kudos also to him for coming to camp in much better shape, and with a much better attitude, than Sandroval did. They are noticeable opposites this year, though they were very similar last year.

--And, in all honesty, he's been better at first than I thought he'd be.

--I don't like the LOB column on NESN's graphic this year. Looks bad. I know some channels have had that for awhile now, but that's new to NESN. Needs to go.

--Let's not get carried away. Last year's Opening Day: a shutout for Buchholz, and Pedroia hit two home runs. And look how that turned out.

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