So it took an extra day of wait, but the Red Sox opened up Fenway Park for 2009. Not only that, but they opened it up the way every member of Red Sox nation wanted them to—with vengeance.
In in his first game of the season, Josh Beckett looked like his Cy Young worthy 2007 player, not the 2008 player who struggled. In his seven complete innings, he allowed two hits, three walks, one run, and struck out 10. His injuries looked to be far behind him as his fastball was continually hitting mid 90s, and his breaking ball and changeup were right on the money. He did lose control in the third inning, but besides that hiccup he mowed down every batter he faced.
James Shields had a rough day, which he normally does at Fenway. In 5.1 he allowed nine hits (two of those home runs), three walks, two strikeouts, and five earned runs. For some reason Shields has just not performed well in Fenway. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe the cold. He should bounce back in his next start, that was not typical Shields.
At the plate, the Red Sox were just as on as Beckett was. Jacoby Ellsbury got off to a rough start, going 0-for-4. Dustin Pedroia reminded us why he won the MVP, blasting the second pitch he saw over the Green Monster.
Quick side note: I got MLB '09 The Show and played Franchise mode as the Red Sox. In my first at bat of the season as Pedroia, I hit a home run over the Monster. Weird.
J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, and Mike Lowell all had one RBI each and Varitek also had one with a homer over the right-field wall. The Rays at the plate really had no offense going until Hideki Okajima came in to pitch. They began a rally against him, getting two runs off of him. Justin Masterson came in to kill the rally, setting the scene for Jonathon Papelbon who got his first save of the season.
This game showed how the Red Sox are going to play this season. Good offense backed by great pitching. If the starters can go six or seven solid innings and give it to the bullpen for the rest this team will be successful. Without Manny in the lineup they cannot rely too much on offense, although it will be there.
The Red Sox are in action again tonight at 7:10 p.m. Jon Lester gets the start for Boston and lefty James Shields takes the mound for the Rays.