Hanley Ramirez Grand in Opening Day Win

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia each swatted two home runs, and Mookie Betts had one of his own to pace the Red Sox to an 8-0 rout of the Phillies on Opening Day in Philadelphia.

Clay Bucholz was dominant in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out nine,Hanley Ramirez while allowing only one base on balls. The pitcher that so many thought would be starting for the Red Sox today, Cole Hamels, was roughed up in five innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs, and four home runs—the most he has ever allowed in a game at Citizens Bank Park.

All of the Sox offense was via home runs. Pedroia got things started in the first, and two innings later Mookie Betts delivered with a solo bomb, making it 2-0 Red Sox. In the fifth, Pedroia did it again, with another solo shot. Considering he had seven home runs last year, it’s safe to say he’s off to a good start. He was also magnificent in the field.

Another player who is off to a roaring start is Hanley Ramirez. He had a solo shot in the fifth, and then hit a grand slam in the 9th inning to make it 8-0 Sox, joining Jack Clark (1991) and Carlton Fisk (1973) as just the third player in team history to hit a grand slam on Opening Day.

Some of the big bats were quiet today, with David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval each hitless, and each striking out three times. Shane Victorino went hitless, but reached twice via walks, and even stole third base. He also went charging into the right field wall to make a gutsy catch in the fifth inning. New catcher Ryan Hanigan reached base twice in four appearances, with a single and a walk.

So what did we learn? Buchholz is pacing for Cy Young Award, Pedroia for MVP, and Hanley Ramirez for the Triple Crown? Well, it’s nice to dream like that early on, but what we did learn is that this team should be a lot more fun to watch than the 2014 version was.

Game 22

David Ortiz game

David Ortiz of the Red Sox hits a solo home run against the Astros.

The Boston Red Sox took on the Houston Astros last night at Fenway Park. to finish the four game series,  Game 22, (140 more to go).  David Ortiz, Big Papi, hits his first home run of the season (he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been back); Clay Buchholz goes 5-0, pitching well into the 8th inning; Mike Carp makes a remarkable presence at bat (due to Shane Victorino’s bad back he was able to play) and #51, Daniel Bard, is back at home.

It could not have been a better game to watch.  It was the bottom of the first; the Red Sox scored 4 runs of 7, which would eventually win the game.  Pedroia stole second by a long shot in the first and Jarrod made his seventh RBI of the season.  If they keep swinging their bats as they did last night and many nights before, the Sox could possibly take it all the way.  Their aggressiveness on the plate is astounding and it’s such a thrill to watch. 109 pitches into the game,  Clay Bucholz was taken from the mound with an appreciative applause by the fans, in the middle of the eighth inning,  leaving Andrew Miller (with his new haircut) to finish the job.  In which he did. It always scares me when Farrell brings Miller into the game, but lately, ever since he got his new haircut, he’s been showing improvement.

On the other hand, Mike Napoli struck out three times out of his four at bats, and Will Middlebrooks missed a tag at third base in the top of the third. The players can’t all be on their game all the time, although we would like to think so. The great thing about this team is when one player breaks down, another one gets right up.

Will Middlebrooks

Marwin Gonzalez of the Astros beats a throw to third base against Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox.

What truly made this particular game an event to watch was Daniel Bard’s entrance onto the field in the top of the ninth. I can recall my asking long ago, “What happened to #51?” Well, #51 is back and what a remarkable job he did on the mound tonight in the short amount of time he had to perform. Upon his return, Bard threw at a 96 mph velocity which is great for him.  In the ninth inning, he threw a 93 mph fast pitch to the plate striking out the batter for his 218th strike out in his career.  The win came when Bard scooped a line drive into his glove and made the out at first with Napoli’s assistance. The Red Sox won 7-2.