McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox

191542.jpg

McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas --- Their best starter gave up five runs, thanks to a career-worst three homers allowed. Their most dependable reliever allowed four runs in the eighth after his teammates had come from behind to forge a tie.

It was that kind of day for the Red Sox.

Nine runs off their two best pitchers? If that happens often, or even more than occasionally, the Red Sox are in a load of trouble.

For this one day, Opening Day, it meant a loss.

"I think everyone is pretty much feeling the same way,'' said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "It happened. Now we need to get over it . . . It happens. It's part of baseball. It happens every day. We're out there to perform and some days we do and sometimes we don't. We got beat today.''

Prior to the opener, the focus had been on getting to Texas starter C.J. Wilson, who was 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA against Boston last year. After all the debates about the lineup, the Sox fared well against Wilson, getting four runs off him and running his pitch count up to the point where he was done after 5 23 innings.

But trouble came from their own pitchers.

Lester has been the Red Sox' best starter for much of the last three seasons, compiling 50 wins since the start of 2008. But Friday at The Ballpark in Arlington, he twice, uncharacteristically, spit up two-run leads.

After a two-run first for the Boston, Lester yielded a solo homer on his second pitch of the game to Ian Kinsler, then a game-tying home run to Nelson Cruz in the second. Then, after the Sox went up 4-2 in the third, Lester gave that back and more when he yielded a three-run homer to Mike Napoli in the fourth.

"I don't think it was a bad pitch,'' said Terry Francona of Lester's pitch to Napoli. "I think it was down and probably borderline out of the strike zone. But he's a big strong kid and he's hurt us before.''

Summing up Lester's afternoon, Francona concluded: "He just missed over the middle too much.''

"Things didn't go the way I wanted, obviously,'' said Lester.

He failed to strike out a single batter for the first time since 2008.

"I had a pretty good two-seamer today,'' said Lester. "But for whatever reason, we couldn't get many swings-and-misses.''

Indeed, 12 of the 16 outs Lester recorded were on the ground, including the first nine in a row. But over his final 2 13 innings, he began elevating the ball more and, with Napoli in particular, paid for it.

As spotty as Lester was, the Sox clawed back and tied the game on a David Ortiz solo homer in the top of the eighth. When the Sox brought Bard in, they were only tied, but the Sox are ordinarily so confident with Bard in the game, that seemed insignificant.

"We were thrilled to get to Bard,'' said Francona. "I thought he got under a few pitches and didn't locate. That probably happens a lot of times, but you somehow get them out. His command just wasn't what it normally is.''

Bard got the first out, then threw an ill-advised slider on a 3-and-2 pitch to Napoli. When it missed for ball four, the Rangers had the go-ahead runner on base.

"That's the one I'd take back,'' lamented Bard. "It was kind of an unaggressive pitch and kind of set the tone and got the ball rolling for them.''

A single to Yorvit Torrealba pushed Napoli into scoring position, bringing David Murphy to the plate, pinch-hitting for Julio Borbon.

"I made exactly the pitch I wanted to make,'' insisted Bard. "We were going sinker, down-and-away. It was at the knees, outer black and he just barely got the bat to it. Three inches to the left, it's a foul ball and we're having a different conversation.''

Instead, the looper that the left-handed Murphy clunked down the left-field line hit the chalk -- a fair ball -- and two runs scored.

It was that kind of day for the Red Sox.

"You have to ignore the result sometimes,'' said Bard, offering context and perspective, two qualities not always found in Opening Day losses.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

wbc-adam-jones-032417x.jpg

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.