Nation Station: This Opening Day, Sox aim for .500

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Nation Station: This Opening Day, Sox aim for .500

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

Twice weekly during the baseball season, Bill Chuck of billy-ball.com will provide a statistically-based look at the Red Sox.

Opening Day when every team is 0-0. No runs. No hits. No typos. And every fan expects their team will go 162-0. This Opening Day, Red Sox Nation hopes their beloved Bostonians will reach the .500 mark.

No, this is not some kind of April Fools Day joke. This is the just the first milestone the Sox hope to reach on their road to 2011 immortality. You see, since the American League was formed in 1901, their all-time record on Opening Day is 54-55-1. Yes, the Sox did tie, 4-4, on Opening Day, April 14, 1910 against the New York Highlanders (they became the Yankees in 1913).

Opening Day is indeed a glorious day. As Joe DiMaggio (Doms brother) said, "You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen."

But the reality is that Opening Day does not count any more or less than other game. It still represents just .6 of the regular season, but dont kid yourself, games in April do count as much as they do in September.

As proof you might consider, the Sox back-to-back Opening Day losses in 1948-49, both to the Philadelphia As. In 1948, they finished the season second one game behind Cleveland, and in 1949, they finished second again, one game behind the Yankees. In the strike-shortened 1972 season, the Sox lost on Opening Day and painfully finished a half-game behind the Tigers and out of the postseason.

Still not convinced?

Nail in the coffin time: April 7, 1978, the Sox started their season losing in Chicago, 6-5, on a two-run walkoff loss, and ended their season in game 163, in the playoff game in which Bucky Freakin Dent earned his middle name.

On the other hand, a loss on Opening Day does not necessarily mean failure. In the 2001-2010 decade, the Sox lost the first five, but have won four of their last five. But two of the six losses were in the 2004 and 2007 openers. All in all, those seasons were pretty, pretty, pretty good. On the other side of the coin, in two of the winning openers in 2008 and 2009, the Sox lost in the ALCS and the LDS respectively. If you look at the 20 years that the Sox made the postseason, they are 12-8, but if you look at the seven years that they were World Champs, their record was just 4-3.

Despite the successes of 2004 and 2007 following an opening loss, a win is always better than a loss because as Hall-of-Famer Early Wynn is attributed to have said, An opener is not like any other game. Theres that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you cant lose them all.

Root for .500.

From the Bill Chuck Red Sox Files . . .
Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, Lenny Green, and Ted Lepcio are the only Sox with two homers in an opener. Nine different Sox had four hits in an opener including Ira Flagstead, who did it twice in 1925-26. Yaz has the most hits of any Sox with 28, including six homers. This should be the sixth straight Opening Day start for Kevin Youkilis, but his first at third base; hes had five in a row at first. Ted Williams had at least one hit in each of the 14 Opening Days he played. He was a .449 hitter in openers, with three home runs and 14 RBI.

Opening Day in Red Sox Postseason Years
YEAR
GAME
FINISH
1903
Boston Americans 9, Philadelphia A's 4
91-47 (World Series champions)
1904
New York Highlanders 8, Boston Americans 2
95-59 (American League champions)
1912
Boston Red Sox 5, New York Highlanders 3
105-47 (World Series champions)
1915
Philadelphia A's 2, Boston Red Sox 0
101-50 (World Series champions)
1916
Boston Red Sox 2, Philadelphia A's 1
91-63 (World Series champions)
1918
Boston Red Sox 7, Philadelphia A's 1
75-51 (World Series champions)
1946
Boston Red Sox 6, Washington Senators 3
104-50 (American League champions)
1967
Boston Red Sox 5, Chicago White Sox 4
92-70 (American League champions)
1975
Boston Red Sox 5, Milwaukee Brewers 2
95-65 (American League champions)
1986
Detroit Tigers 6, Boston Red Sox 5
96-66 (American League champions)
1988
Detroit Tigers 5, Boston Red Sox 3
89-73 (AL East champions, lost ALCS)
1990
Boston Red Sox 5, Detroit Tigers 2
88-74 (AL East champions, lost ALCS)
1998
Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland A's 0
92-70 (Wild Card, lost ALDS)
1999
Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 3
94-68 (Wild Card, lost ALCS)
2003
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6, Boston Red Sox 4
95-67 (Wild Card, lost ALCS)
2004
Baltimore Orioles 7, Boston Red Sox 2
98-64 (Wild Card, World Series champions)
2005
New York Yankees 9, Boston Red Sox 2
95-67 (Wild Card, lost ALDS)
2007
Kansas City Royals 7, Boston Red Sox 1
95-66 (World Series champions)
2008
Boston Red Sox 6, Oakland A's 5
95-67 (Wild Card, lost ALCS)
2009
Boston Red Sox 5, Tampa Bay Rays 3
95-67 (Wild Card, lost ALDS)

Postseason year record on Opening Day: 12-8World Series Champions' record on Opening Day: 4-3

Red Sox on Opening Day
DECADE
RECORD
2001-2010
4-6
1991-2000
8-2
1981-1990
3-7
1971-1980
5-5
1961-1970
6-4
1951-1960
5-5
1941-1950
5-5
1931-1940
5-5
1921-1930
3-7
1911-1920
6-4
1901-1910
4-5-1
All-time
54-55-1

Red Sox Opening Day Doubleheaders
DATE
OPPONENT
OPENER
GAME 2
Apr. 20, 1903
Philadelphia
9-4, W
10-7, L
Apr. 19, 1948
Philadelphia
5-4, L
4-2, L
Apr. 10, 1982
@ Baltimore
2-0, W
5-3, L

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.