The Red Sox wrapped up a very solid opening series against Baltimore with a 4-3 win on Thursday night. Both the starters and the bullpen already looked locked in, and most of the lineup looks the same way. Great way to start the year.
OVERALL GRADE: A
Hitters Overall: B
Designated Hitter: B+
All he needs to do is hit, and that’s essentially what Papi did against the Orioles. Ortiz had a rough go of things in the first game of the series, but he came through with a big home run in the middle game and recorded 3 singles in the finale.
A.J. Pierzynski had a serviceable debut to his career in Boston, but it would be nice if he could improve upon his 2/8 start to the season. If Pierzynski can have similar numbers to what he posted last year he will end up being another positive free-agent pickup. David Ross had a solid game 3 as he reached base twice, but he was also not able to stay in front of a Brandon Workman pitch that cost the Sox a run in the 6th.
First Base: A-
Mike Napoli had a solid series against the Orioles; most importantly he provided 4 big RBI in the second game of the series. Napoli picked up right where he left off last season — hitting for extra bases and striking out. He did make an error in the 9th inning of game 2 that made Koji’s save a bit more difficult than it should have been, but the Sox had a 4 run lead at the time of the error so we’ll let him off the hook.
Second Base: A
Dustin Pedroia played all three games of the series, and he came out of the gate swinging a red-hot bat. Pedroia had 2 hits in the first game and 4 base hits in game 2 (to go along with a sweet diving stop), and in the third game he had a 1-out double in the 9th but was left stranded by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Overall, the Sox will always take a 7-hit series from their franchise player, so keep up the good work Pedey.
Shortstop : A-
Xander Bogaerts had a fantastic start to his year. The Rookie Shortstop sensation reached base 8 times in the series and provided a great boost to the lower part of the lineup. His bat will likely see him moving up in the lineup in the near future.
Third Base: C
Will Middlebrooks struggled with the bat in the first two games of the series, but he picked up his first two hits (one of which was a double) in game 3. Middlebrooks is a player who’s spot in the lineup in relatively safe for the time being, but he needs to keep having positive at bats like he did in the third game if the Red Sox lineup is going to be as potent as it was last year. His glove looked a bit iffy at times in the series as well, but he played relatively solid overall.
Center Field: B
Grady Sizemore started the first two games of the series in center and it was great to see him back in the big leagues. In the first game he went 2/4 and produced the Sox only run, but he failed to reach base in the second game. As we noted after Opening Day, if he could keep up a consistent bat and remain healthy it will very much help make up for the loss of Jacoby. Jackie Bradley Jr. started the third game and managed two hits (one of which produced a run). Hopefully he can hit better than last season, and if he can he will pick up some much needed playing time over the course of the year.
Left Field/Right Field: B-
These spots were manned by a platoon of Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and Jackie Bradley Jr. The platoon at these positions (mostly in left field, as Shane Victorino played right field most of the year) was a key aspect of the deadly offensive attack from last year, so it would be nice if Farrell could again maximize the output from these positions by using a rotation of the players listed above. They had a solid series, and they’ll have their ups and downs throughout the year, but mostly it was just very fun to see Gomes hitting leadoff in the last game.
Pitchers Overall: A
Jon Lester: A
Lester was masterful in his 7 innings on Opening Day. The Sox ace threw 104 pitches, and the only 2 runs he gave up were off of a double play ball by Delmon Young in the 2nd and a long ball by Nelson Cruz in the 7th. Lester fanned 8 Orioles batters, and he did a great job of mixing pitches — PITCHf/x says he through 5 different pitches today. He got into some trouble in the early innings, but was able to work out of it well. Overall, the Sox couldn’t have asked for any more from Jon in his first start of the regular season.
John Lackey: A-
Lackey pitched an extremely solid 6 innings in the second game of the series, and he picked up the Red Sox’ first win of the year. The Orioles’ only runs again came off the bat of Nelson Cruz (a 2-run shot in the 4th), and Lackey only allowed 2 other baserunners during the rest of his time on the mound. Just like Lester, Lackey could not have pitched any better — aside the fact that his pitch count was a bit high by the 6th inning.
Doubront had a solid outing in the last game of the series. He ran into a bit of trouble in the 4th inning, but managed to stop the bleeding after only giving up 2 runs. If the Sox starters can manage to hold the opposition to 2 runs per game every time out this year, it’s going to be a very fun 2014. That wont happen, but it was still very fun to watch the first three starters go this week.
The boys in the ‘pen only gave up 1 run in three games. ‘Nuff said.