By Dan Duggan
NEW YORK — The Red Sox newcomers made a strong first impression on Opening Day.
Jonny Gomes went 2-for-4 with a walk and turned in the play of the day when he scored from second base on a Jacoby Ellsbury infield single in the ninth inning. Fellow free agent signee Shane Victorino went 2-for-6 with three RBI. And much-hyped rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. didn't disappoint in his debut, earning praise for his plate discipline after drawing three walks and scoring twice.
Add in a scoreless inning of relief by both Koji Uehara and Joel Hanrahan, and it was the type of day general manager Ben Cherington envisioned when he revamped the roster in the offseason.
“I think the players that were targeted to be brought in here, there's a track record and a history of those individuals to be quality teammates, talented players,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “So, what we have control over, that's how we respond to challenges, and how we have one another's back in this clubhouse is a key for us going forward throughout the entire year.”
Farrell, of course, is another relative newcomer. The team’s pitching coach from 2007-10 is in his first season as the Sox manager.
“He’s been John,” starting pitcher Jon Lester said. “His study of the game kind of trickles down to all the other coaches. I don’t think there’s going to be another team that’s more prepared than us going into a series. We just have to go out and execute our gameplan.”
Yankee Stadium was nearly empty by the time Joel Hanrahan took the mound in the ninth inning to make his Sox debut. A combination of cool temperatures, rain and an 8-2 Sox lead sent Yankees fans scurrying for the exits much earlier than usual for such a heated rivalry.
“It definitely was a different vibe than what I remember seeing on TV with Yankee Stadium,” Hanrahan said. “They got some injuries going. It's cold and windy and a little bit rainy there. I think the rain kind of sent some people out, but it doesn't really matter. I think the fans will be back here on Wednesday and fill it up.”
Despite never hitting the ball out of the infield, shortstop Jose Iglesias went 3-for-5. In the second inning, Iglesias singled on a chopper deep into the hole at shortstop. Bradley helped Iglesias’ cause by beating the throw to second base for an attempted force.
In the fourth, Iglesias perfectly placed a bunt down the first base line for a hit. He finished the day by beating out a slow roller down the third base line in the seventh inning. The three hits matched the career-high he set last Sept. 20 against Tampa Bay…
Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in all seven of his Opening Day starts after going 2-for-6 yesterday. Pedroia has a career .393 batting average with two home runs and five RBI on Opening Day.