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Once the clock struck midnight Friday morning, April was upon us. In the past, April has not been a kind month for Opening Day starter Jon Lester (16 starts, 3-5, 4.58 ERA in his career), but the big lefty was looking to buck that trend Friday afternoon against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
Lester blew two 2-run leads and allowed five runs (all on 3 HRs) in just 5.1 innings, and the Red Sox eventually lost 9-5. Old friend David Murphy broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth with a double down the left field line as the defending AL Champs scored four runs in the inning.
Things started great for the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an error on a fly ball to right-center field to start the game, and eventually scored on a Kevin Youkilis double. Adrian Gonzalez followed with an RBI single to right, and the Sox were up 2-0.
Lester then gave up a home run to Ian Kinsler on his second pitch of the game, and later surrendered a home run to Nelson Cruz in the second inning.
The Sox touched up CJ Wilson again, scoring two runs on a bases-loaded single by Gonzalez for a 4-2 lead. Gonzalez finished 2-4 on the day with three RBI. Fellow-newcomer Carl Crawford did not fare as well, going 0-4 with three strikeouts.
In the fourth, Mike Napoli slugged a three-run shot inside the left field foul pole to give Texas a 5-4 lead, which they held until the eighth inning. Facing lefty Darren Oliver, David Ortiz hit a solo HR to center field to tie it 5-5.
With the game tied, Terry Francona made the call for the always-reliable Daniel Bard…who stunk up the joint. Murphy slapped a two-run double that hit the chalk down the left field line to break the 5-5 tie, and RBI doubles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton gave the Rangers a 9-5 lead. As bad as Lester was, Bard was that much worse.
Gonzalez went 2-2 with three RBI in his first two plate appearances in a Sox uniform. To top off his day, he even stole second base for the first time since 2009.
Bard allowed four hits and a walk in the eighth while just recording two outs. He was charged with four runs. Last year, he did not have an appearance in which he allowed more than two runs. It can only get better, right?
W: Darren Oliver (1-0)
L: Daniel Bard (0-1)