|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The Red Sox exciting week started at the White House, not during the first game of the season the day before where they faced the Baltimore Orioles, in the first of a three game series. The Sox lost the opener 2-1 despite valiant efforts by Grady Sizemore, who hit his first major league homerun since 2011. Sizemore solidified in Red Sox’ fan minds to be the man for us in centerfield. Jackie Bradley Jr., Sizemore’s competitor for the centerfield position, was assigned to Pawtucket only to be called up to the major league team two days later, to add bench depth with Shane Victorino placed on the 15-day disabled list for an injured right hamstring.
The lessons learned from game one was do not strand men on base. Throughout the game Sox batters left 10 men on base, including two in both the 8th and 9th innings. Jon Lester threw a decent game, but was probably left in a bit longer than necessary. He allowed Nelson Cruz to crush a home run giving the Orioles the 2-1 lead. The bullpen did its job holding the defense, but Boston’s offense came up short during the remaining innings. The World Champion Red Sox lost their first game of the regular season.
After spending Tuesday at the White House, where David Ortiz took a selfie with the president while giving President Barack Obama a jersey and Jonny Gomes wore his star-spangled blazer, it was back to the work on Wednesday. John Lackey took the mound to lead the team to a 6-2 win. The overall offensive situation was much improved. Mike Napoli and David Ortiz went yard for the team, while Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia also pitched in offensively. Napoli was central to the Sox win driving in four runs for the team. Napoli proved a defensive powerhouse, too, with a backhanded catch in the sixth preventing a line drive from reaching the gap. Edward Mujica made his mid-relief debut, striking out a batter in his one inning of work. Tazawa and Uehara pitched the final two innings to give the Red Sox their first win of the season.
Thursday night’s final score was a bit tighter, but the Sox pulled out the first series of the season on top winning two of the 3 games played against Baltimore. Felix Doubront took the mound for Boston and John Farrell placed Jonny Gomes in the lead off spot. Gomes was not anything flashy, but did establish his ability to get on base. His career .377 OBP versus lefties shows that he is the best candidate for the leadoff spot in Victorino’s absence. Fans also saw Bogaerts earn a promotion in the lineup, too. He batted in the fifth slot, a bold move that paid off by manager Farrell. Bogaerts earned three hits and scored a run batted in with hits from Will Middlebrooks and David Ross in the fourth inning. Bogaerts displayed defensive capability during this game with his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Bradley made the most of his time on the field, flying around the bases during the third inning off a David Ortiz pop fly. Nelson Cruz’s mistake created an opportunity for Bradley to display his speed coming all the way around from first base. Bradley and Middlebrooks continued their offensive work with back-to-back hits. Bradley’s hit scored the fourth and final run the Red Sox needed to win the game. After 5 ½ innings, the bullpen took over for Doubront. Chris Capuano had a 1-2-3 seventh inning, one of the more impressive outings thus far as a new member of the team.
Today, Friday, April 4th marks the day fans across New England have long awaited: the home opener. The cold winter will quickly become an afterthought once the festivities kick off at 1PM with the 2013 World Series ring presentation. A three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers will begin after the gold is given out.
The game begins at 2:05PM with Jake Peavy taking the mound against Brewers’ starting pitcher Marco Estrada.