After dealing the New York Yankees their first Opening Day loss since 1982, the Boston Red Sox will aim to keep pounding their archrival tonight. Left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., first baseman Mike Napoli and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz will make sure the Red Sox improve to 2-0 on the year.
Bradley, a 22-year-old rookie from Richmond, Va., went 0-for-2 at the dish in his major league debut. Omitted from that stat line, though, were his three walks, two runs and one run batted in.
The former South Carolina Gamecocks standout became the only player in MLB history to walk three times and drive in at least one run. Bradley is also the fourth player since 1900 to debut with three walks in a season opener.
New York's starting pitcher for this evening, Hiroki Kuroda, will have a tough time putting Bradley down. Bradley's patience at the plate will help the Red Sox elevate Kuroda's pitch count and get into the Yankees' bullpen quicker than they would like.
If Bradley finds himself on base again, watch out for him to put his speed on display. Bradley stole 24 bases in the minor leagues last season and should benefit from manager John Farrell's willingness to let his players run.
While Bradley had an outstanding Red Sox debut, Napoli struggled mightily in his first game in a Boston uniform. Napoli went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and came up empty in his only at-bat with runners in scoring position.
Hitting at the No. 4 spot in the lineup, Napoli cannot afford to have many hitless nights. Do not expect the 2012 All-Star to come up empty again this evening.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia combined to go 7-of-18 in the season opener. As long as those three continue to get on base, Napoli will find a way to bring them home.
Meanwhile, Buchholz will make his first start of the 2013 season looking to bounce back from last year's up-and-down campaign.
Buchholz went 11-8 in 2012 but should not have too much trouble navigating New York's short-handed lineup. The Yankees will still be without Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson for quite some time.
The 6'3", 190-pounder should be able to make it through the sixth inning before turning the game over to the Red Sox relievers, who gave up just one hit and zero runs in four full innings in Monday's 8-2 win.
Boston's new acquisitions and a strong outing from Buchholz should be more than enough to take down New York at Yankee Stadium for a second straight game.
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