Pirates - 000 000 300 - 3 8 1 Red Sox - 000 050 00x - 5 10 1Rick Porcello won the 2016 American League Cy Young Award, and in the first Opening Day start of his career, he pitched as if there had not been a months-long break since last season. Porcello left the game with a 5-1 lead, but his final line (6.1-6-3-1-5, 96) was a bit worse that it should have been because Matt Barnes allowed two inherited runners to score.
As Porcello's outing was an echo of 2016, so was Craig Kimbrel's. With Boston up by two runs in the ninth, Kimbrel came out of the bullpen overthrowing. He nearly allowed a home run to Josh Bell, but Bell's fly ball to left hit near the top of the Wall for a double, and Pittsburgh brought the possible tying run to the plate. Kimbrel got into a groove, however, and struck out both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer on fastballs. He got ahead of Adam Frazier 0-2 and then (after a quick mound visit from catcher Sandy Leon) decided to get cute. Kimbrel yanked a curveball too far inside and the pitch drilled Frazier in the front thigh, putting runners at first and second. Kimbrel wisely went back to throwing heat, and retired Starling Marte on a foul pop to first to put the season's first W in the books.
Gerrit Cole (5-7-5-1-2, 76) had allowed the Red Sox next to nothing for the first four innings - and he retired Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts to open the fifth on a total of four pitches. However, Cole would face seven more batters before recording the inning's third out.
Jackie Bradley (now wearing #19) lined the ball into the right field corner. The long carom confused Andrew McCutchen for a moment and Bradley hustled into third with a stand-up triple. A slimmer Pablo Sandoval beat out a hit into the shortstop hole, and Bradley scored. The Pirates went into a shift against Leon and he dropped a bunt down into the open space near third. Cole bobbled the ball and could not make a play. Dustin Pedroia lined a hard single to center and Panda scored. Then Andrew Benintendi (now wearing #16) hit a 405-foot home run to right field to make it 5-0.
Porcello has pitched 6+ innings in each of his last 19 starts, currently the longest streak among MLB starters. Leon and Bogaerts each had two hits. Bogaerts also stole two bases, both without a throw.
The Red Sox are off tomorrow. Chris Sale makes his Boston debut on Wednesday night.
NESN Note: Dave O'Brien and Jerry Remy called a good game. I was somewhat surprised when they both admitted to not watching even one pitch of the recently-concluded World Baseball Classic.
Pedroia, 2BOpening Day Roster:
Starting Pitchers: Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright. [Drew Pomerantz (forearm flexor strain) is on the 10-day disabled list; there is a possibility that he could make his first scheduled start of the season on April 9.]
Relievers: Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Ben Taylor, Robbie Ross, Fernando Abad, Robby Scott. [Tyler Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) is on the DL.]
Catchers: Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon.
Infielders: Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Brock Holt, Steve Selsky. [Josh Rutledge (hamstring) is on the DL.]
Outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts, Chris Young.
David Price threw from 90 feet on Saturday and said he felt good. There is no word on when he will return to the rotation. John Farrell: "The way we have to approach this is he'll be with us when he's first available and with the ability to impact this team and certainly the rotation."
In addition to being good at baseball and bowling, Betts can also beat you in ping pong.
Note: 2017 is the 14th full season for The Joy of Sox. I started the blog in August 2003 (first post here), which was only a few months after David Ortiz had begun asserting himself as a serious contributor to the Red Sox. Also, I think 2003 was the first season I was able to watch the Red Sox every night, via MLBTV. Being that closely connected to the team began a different chapter for me as a fan, and Ortiz was the most important player during that chapter. A new chapter begins this afternoon, one without Big Papi's big smile and big bat.