BOSTON – (Staff and Wire Service Report) – The Boston Red Sox unpacked the trucks from Spring Training and a short road trip through Tampa and Miami with plenty of baggage. This spring, it was all neatly stored away by capable team personnel, players, coaches and even new Manager Alex Coro, allowing the team to cast away a disappointing Opening Day loss to Tampa Bay and focus.
Excess baggage in the majors can cost a team much more than the $100 incidental fees at the counter. In this baseball analogy, excess baggage might be defined as poor clubhouse vibes, the loss of fundamental values and team chemistry, bickering – either with each other as players or with the media or – worse yet – the fans. Losing the clubhouse is a harsh phrase for the situation, but it happens and managers move on. In their place, a new man comes along and sets the tone for his term with his own core values and beliefs.
Eduardo Rodriguez (File)
The Red Sox entered tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles with a franchise-tying, season-opening record of (10-2). Coro placed the ball in Eduardo Rodriguez’ hand with hopes of adding one other piece to his team’s overall foundation for 2018 – a solid fourth starter. Coro – and all the baseball experts – looked at the Sox rotation of Chris Sale, (a healthy) David Price and the 2016 Cy Young Award winner in Rick Porcello, and considered the rotation to be among the very best in the league. Porcello’s fine performance on April 12th against the New York Yankees solidified that belief.
Rodriguez would be the other major puzzle piece.
The Red Sox starter, who entered tonight’s game with an (0-0) record and a (7.36) ERA, pitched six innings of quality baseball, allowing five hits and only one earned run. He walked two but struck-out eight while throwing 104 pitches and 64 strikes. The performance provided the Red Sox with exactly what they needed – a solid fourth starter. He pitched the Red Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the first of a four-game holiday weekend series at Fenway Park.
The victory allowed Boston to match its best 13-game start in franchise history. Only the 1918 Red Sox started a season in such fashion.
The Red Sox jumped on Baltimore starter Chris Tillman early and scored four runs in the bottom of the 1st inning. Betts drew a walk to start the rally, followed by a Mitch Moreland single, a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly and RBI, and a Rafael Devers RBI double which left men on 2nd and 3rd base. Further underscoring “Eduardo Night at Fenway,” Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez crushed a four seam, 85-mph fastball over the Green Monster to give Boston a 4-1 lead after the first.
On the night, Nunez went 2-for-4 with a run and his three RBI. Since joining the Red Sox, he has batted a solid .333 (40-for-120) with 17 runs, seven 2Bs, five HRs and 19 RBI at Fenway Park.Overall since joining Boston, Nunez is batting .310 (66-for-213) with 32 runs, 10 HRs and 33 RBI. He has 23 multi-hit games in his 50 game Red Sox career.
Boston added runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 6th innings, grinding out insurance runs to back-up the big 1st inning rally.
Eduardo Nunez after HR
Tillman pitched only two innings, allowing seven hits and six earned runs. He walked two, hit a batter and did not have a strikeout after throwing 57 pitches with 31 strikes. Pedro Adaujo came on in relief of Tillman in the 3rd inning.
Baltimore’s Trey Mancini, the first batter of the night, scored the first run of the game after singling of Rodriguez and reaching 3rd base on Jonathan Schoop’s base hit to left field, then being knocking in with the Adam Jones sacrifice fly.
The clubs will face each other again on Saturday in the second game of the four-game set. RHP Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12) is getting a spot start for Boston while RHP Alex Cobb (2018 debut) gets the nod for Baltimore. It is a 1:05pm afternoon start at Fenway.