Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Napoli, Ortiz Support Lackey in First Sox Win

Napoli paced the Red Sox attack with a home run and four RBI
The Boston Red Sox won their first game of the season today, beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 behind a strong start from John Lackey and a four-RBI night by Mike Napoli.

Lackey looked terrific in his first start of the season, giving Boston six strong innings before turning a 6-2 lead over to the bullpen. Lackey threw 68 of his 90 pitches for strikes and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out six. He made one mistake to Nelson Cruz, who launched a game-tying two-run bomb in the fourth (this after beating the Sox with his go-ahead home run on Opening Day), but otherwise kept Baltimore's bats in check. The bullpen trio of Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara delivered scoreless innings to seal the win.

The Red Sox lineup broke out after scoring just once on Opening Day. Tonight they scored six runs on ten hits, putting two on the board in the third, fifth, and seventh innings. David Ortiz (fresh off a new contract extension) kicked off the scoring by ripping a two run shot over the right field fence to bring home Dustin Pedroia, who had four hits on the day. The long ball was the 432nd of Ortiz's career, breaking a tie with Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. for 45th place on the all-time home run list, as well as his first career hit off Orioles' starter Ubaldo Jimenez (making his Orioles debut after signing a four-year, $50 million deal).

Jimenez surrendered another two-run job in the fifth--to Mike Napoli--and like Lackey was gone after six (but, unlike Lackey, was not particularly sharp). Napoli knocked in two more with a base loaded single off reliever Ryan Webb in the seventh to plate Pedroia and Daniel Nava, doubling Boston's lead with some much-needed insurance runs. The Orioles made things mildly interesting in the bottom of the ninth, getting runners to second and third with two outs before Uehara slammed the door in a non-save situation.

The Bosox will try to take the rubber game tomorrow with Felix Doubront (11-6, 4.32 ERA last year) on the bump. Baltimore will counter with Wei-Yin Chen (7- 7, 4.07).

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