Sox come up empty on day full of opportunities

Sox come up empty on day full of opportunities
April 1, 2014, 1:00 am
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BALTIMORE -- Opening Day is supposed to be about possibilities, about the promise presented by opportunities, about all the things that maybe, just maybe, could go right.
      
But don't try telling the Red Sox that.
      
On Monday at Camden Yards, the Red Sox got a terrific start from Jon Lester, who limited a tough lineup, playing in a cozy ballpark, to just two runs over seven innings. They got two hits -- including a home run -- from Grady Sizemore, who carried his storybook spring training right into Opening Day. And they had chance after chance.
      
They showed a knack for working the count and grinding through at-bats, forcing Orioles starter Chris Tillman to throw 104 pitches in just five innings.
      
In the end, it didn't matter. Lester gave up one more run than Tillman, and the Red Sox were a horrific 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, producing a frustrating 2-1 setback.
      
The Sox had baserunners in every inning but the seventh and over the final two innings, they had four runners on, including one in scoring position in both innings.
      
And in the fifth inning alone, they hit two balls to the warning track that, on most days, with slightly less wind and slightly more warmth, would have gone out.
      
But they didn't. It was one of those days.
      
"We created a number of opportunities, obviously," said John Farrell. "I thought we squared up a number of balls that got knocked down by some gusty winds in the outfield . . . The two-out hit was elusive."
      
"Guys hit some balls just right," bemoaned Dustin Pedroia, "but they were right at some people."
      
The Sox outhit the Orioles 9-6. They had three extra-base hits to the Orioles' one.
      
And it didn't matter.
      
"We just left too many guys on base," said Mike Napoli, "and couldn't come up with that timely hit. Tough luck."
      
Some of it went beyond tough luck.
      
In the second, with Mike Carp on second and no out, Xander Bogaerts hit a fly ball to the warning track in left that Nelson Cruz, no Gold Glover he, bobbled and then hung onto.
      
Carp had time to advance to third, from where he could have scored on a flyout. In fact, A.J. Pierzynski followed with a flyout to deep center and Carp moved up to third, but he was left there when Will Middlebrooks took a called third strike for the final out of the inning.
      
It was a rare misstep for a team which excelled last season at doing the little things.
      
And just for good measure, there were the requisite second-guessing situations.
      
With Jonny Gomes available on the bench, Farrell twice allowed A.J. Pierzynski to hit for himself against two lefties, each time with a runner in scoring position.
      
In the sixth, Zach Britton got him to groundout to short for the second out. In the eighth, Brian Matusz induced Pierzynski to hit a soft tapper back to the mound for the third out with the potential tying run on second.
      
"I liked where we were matchup-wise," said Farrell. "Righthanded, lefthanded, A.J. is our starting catcher."
      
Gomes remained on the bench when Jackie Bradley Jr., who had come into the game in the top of the eighth as a pinch-runner for cleanup hitter Mike Napoli, took a game-ending called third strike.
      
"It's tough when you lose any (games)," said Pedroia. "We've got to find a way to play a little bit better, do the little things a little bit better and score some more runs. Our pitching was outstanding. So, back to work."
      
There were chances and opportunities, exactly the kinds of things associated with Opening Day, when anything seems possible.
      
Except, for the Red Sox on this day, a win.