Hopes were high for the Red Sox before the season started. There was talk of a World Series title and even of reaching the almost-impossible 100-wins mark.
Then Opening Day rolled around. The Sox travelled to Arlington to face the defending American League champion Texas Rangers. It was a mauling.
The Rangers teed off on Boston pitching, drilling 11 home runs in the three-game sweep and outscoring their opponents 26-11.
The Red Sox are 0-3 for the first time since 1996. Of course, it is still to early to panic, and besides, it was not all bad news. So here is a run down of some of the best and worst performers in the Opening Weekend series.
There was some discussion in the offseason about whether Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie would start at shortstop. True, much of the reason was because there was precious little else to talk about, but there was a good case to be made for Lowrie.
It was all for naught, though, as Scutaro got the start. He was awful. He did not play in the third game, but in the first two, he went a spectacular 0-for-8, failing to reach base even once.
Somehow, Salty was even worse than Scutaro. No one is expecting much offensively from the catcher but was anyone anticipating him going 0-for-10 with five strikeouts and eight men left on base?
The only time he reached first was when he was hit by a pitch.
It was a surprise to no one that Lester got the ball on Opening Day. He is probably the best pitcher on the Red Sox staff.
His performance, however, will have surprised almost everyone. Five runs allowed on six hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. The runs came on three homers, the most Lester has ever given up in a start.
Jon Lester left the game on the hook for the loss, but David Ortiz bailed him out with a game-tying home run in the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, Daniel Bard came in and promptly handed the lead back to Texas.
He allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in just two-thirds of an inning, possibly the worst outing of his short career.
Wow. Just wow.
Lester and Bard may have been poor, but compared to Lackey, their performances were almost Cy Young-worthy. The $18 million man laboured in the first three innings, allowing three runs. And then he imploded quite spectacularly in the fourth.
After two quick outs, the at-bats went as follows: Double, RBI triple, walk, RBI double, intentional walk, grand slam. It was now 9-3 Texas and pretty much all over for Boston. It was certainly over for Lackey, who finished with an abysmal line of 3.2 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 3K, 2 HR.
Still, it was not all bad news.
Jacoby Ellsbury finished the series second on the team in slugging percentage and third in RBI. He also stole his first base of the season. An 0-fer in the series finale dented his stats considerably, but Ells was still one of the best performers in the Sox’ first three games.
Carl Crawford struggled in his maiden series in a Sox uniform, going 0-for-7 in the first two games and being dropped to seventh in the lineup for the third.
There was no such slow start for fellow newcomer Adrian Gonzalez. The first baseman went 5-for-9 on Friday and Saturday combined, driving in a pair.
And then there was Big Papi.
If there is one good thing the Red Sox can take from the debacle that was this Rangers series, it is this: David Ortiz can still swing the bat. It is years since Papi had a strong April, but he could not have made a better start to 2011. He clubbed a solo home run on Opening Day and added a two-run shot in the second game.
He had a great series. If only the rest of the team had followed his example.