You really couldn’t blame the Boston Red Sox if they cranked up Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” on the flight home from Toronto Sunday afternoon. And you couldn’t blame collective Red Sox Nation for a gigantic sigh of relief to see this year’s squad head back to Beantown for the 2013 home opener with a 4-2 first week/road performance in hand. The Sox broke out a can of Whip Ass Sunday afternoon, led by Will Middlebrooks’ (my wrist is all better) three-homer barrage, and a second straight crisp performance by staff ace John Lester, to poke the Toronto Blue Jays in the eye with a sharp stick, completing their second straight road series win by spanking the new look Blue Jays 10-0 on April’s first Sunday.
Given last year’s slow start, and even more calamitous finish, there had to be a lot of unanswered questions and more than a bit of trepidation among the Red Sox faithful waiting to see how the new look Sox would unfold in 2013. One week does not a season make, but on whole, there were numerous plusses this week against the only real cloud in week 1, Saturday afternoon’s injury to number 5 starter John Lackey. Impressive with 8 K’s in 4.1 inning, Lackey’s right bicep malfunctioned Saturday, forcing him out of the game and forcing the Red Sox to look for a 5th starter, at least short term. Even as late as Sunday afternoon there was no definitive word on the extent of his injury, nor how long it is anticipated he will be out, or even if the bicep boo-boo will force him to the DL.
What we did learn this first week is this: Middlebrooks is healthy. Elsbury is off and running like he’s playing in a contract year. Nava CAN play first base. Napoli can go yard and DH. After getting plunked in the elbow, formerly light-hitting Jose Iglesias is back in the lineup and stroking. Jackie Bradley Jr., had some shining moments and some, “ I really am a rookie,” moments during his first week. Lester looks like he has his head on straight and is in command, the bullpen, outside of Aceves, looks rock solid, and Hanrahan can save games. Victorino has had his moments and outside of getting handcuffed by A.J. Happ Saturday, Boston’s versatile lineup is cracking out hits, scoring runs, and putting pressure on opposing pitchers inning in and inning out. Pedroia is Pedroia, playing the role of bartender with a swizzle stick, stirring up rallies and generally being his usual Bearded Lawn Gnome Pain in the Ass. Oh, and there’s help on the way.
When The Red Sox open their first homestand of the season Monday against the Baltimore Orioles, Farrell and management are facing some early rosters decisions. Stephen Drew appears almost back from his short stint on the DL due to a concussion, and is likely to be activated by Thursday following a couple games at Tripe A P-Town. Big Papi is on schedule for extended spring training games early in the week, and could show up in Pawtuckett for a two or three game visit as early as this Thursday. So questions become: Given his hot start, does Farrell sit Iglesias so Drew? Does Jackie Bradley go back to Triple-A because Nava is hitting well and has become more versatile. Who takes Lackey’s spot in the rotation at least this week? And if Papi suffers no more setbacks, does this cycle of roster moves start anew by April 15th’s Tax Filing deadline.
It would seem as if the Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches in talent at a number of spots. But if last year taught us anything, it was that the fickled finger of injury fate can strike at any moment and render a once potent lineup and pitching crew impotent in a heartbeat. Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront play mound hosts to the visiting Birds who bring an impressive squad and some young pitchers to town starting Monday as the Red Sox continue their opening waltz through the A.L. East to begin the season. At least for this week let’s raise a cold Sam Adams to our Road Warriors for an opening week well done.
- Red Sox-Blue Jays Live: Jon Lester, R.A. Dickey Set to Square Off in Rubber Match of Three-Game Series (nesn.com)
- Middlebrooks hits 3 homers, Red Sox rout Blue Jays (timesleader.com)
Categories: American League Happenings