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No one knows what to expect this year in the American League East. Even the best of analysts have admitted the division is a true crapshoot, where any of the five great teams could finish in any of the five spots in the standings. This small hint of optimism that everything could work out for the Boston Red Sox was emphasized on Monday, as the team began the year with a dominating 8-2 victory over their rival New York Yankees.
The story leading up to the contest was the arrival of rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. to the big leagues, where he has the potential to blossom into a star. And while the 22-year old outfielder didn’t get his first big league base knock on day where the Sox had 13 hits, he did show signs of what to like including stellar defense and great plate discipline.
The Sox started ace Jon Lester, coming off of an incredible Spring Training where he had a 0.75 ERA in 24.0 innings. Those absurd numbers didn’t necessarily follow over into the regular season against an injured Yankees lineup though, but Lester was solid over 5.0 innings of work. The southpaw struck out seven while allowing two earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks.
The Red Sox featured a new-look lineup, with Shane Victorino (2-6, 3 RBI) second, Mike Napoli (0-5) cleanup, and seven through nine hitters Jonny Gomes (2-4), Bradley (3 BB, 2 R), and Jose Iglesias (3-5). They were all over Yankees ace CC Sabathia, scoring four times in the second inning to set the mood early. Those runs were all scored on singles by Iglesias, Victorino, and Dustin Pedroia.
Lester kept New York quiet until the fourth, when ex-teammate Kevin Youkilis belted a double to left, eventually scoring along with veteran Vernon Wells on a base hit by Francisco Cervelli. The score remained tight at 4-2 as the bullpens got involved.
The Sox showed off their talented crew of arms, beginning with new reliever Koji Uehara. The right-handed veteran retired the Yankees in order in the sixth on just five pitches. Then Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey combined to get through the seventh, and Junichi Tazawa handled the eighth, allowing one hit–the only hit Boston relievers allowed over the final four innings.
The Red Sox tacked on three more runs in the top half of the ninth to give them an 8-2 lead, which they would hold as Joel Hanrahan came in to close out the statement win. Boston proved to be too much for the Yankees to handle as the lineup jumped all over Sabathia, while the bullpen stymied the weakened New York lineup.
Off to a perfect start, the 1-0 Red Sox will turn to Clay Buchholz whose 2013 debut will come against Hiroki Kuroda.