McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox

McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox
April 2, 2011, 1:45 am
Share This Post

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