By Maureen Mullen and Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Adrian Gonzalez finally got his chance to play at Fenway Park after 864 Major League games without one at bat on Yawkey Way. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only active player with more career games without appearing at Fenway is Aramis Ramirez (1,540).
The new Red Sox slugging first baseman got a warm reception during Opening Day introductions, and then went ahead with a 2-for-5 performance at the plate with a run and a pair of RBI including a seventh inning bunt that stunned plenty in the sellout crowd and leads the team with four multi-hit games.
Other offensive players in the Sox lineup like Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia carried more noticeable roles in the 9-6 win over the Yankees at the Fens, but Gonzalez loomed as the big bopper in the No. 3 hole around which the rest of the lineup orbited.
Hes a good hitter, man. Hes not just a home run hitter, Hes a good baseball player, said Pedroia, who was among a chorus of voices in the Sox clubhouse that have voiced all kinds of admiration for the home run hitting stud. I didnt get a chance to see him in the National League, but thats what he does, man. He hits and takes what the pitchers give him. Thats why hes so good.
After seven games Gonzalez is hitting .321 in the middle of Bostons lineup with a home run and 6 RBI, but the short cross section of spring training and a handful of regular season games has shown just as Pedroia is illustrating that hes much more than a simple home run hitter.
And hes not a bad bunter, either, as the five bunts for hits in his career would attest to when hes facing the left-handed hitter shift employed by many teams against Gonzalez and David Ortiz.
That guy can hit, bro, said Ortiz. He knows what hes doing out there.
With his first home run of the season, a solo shot into the first row of the Monster seats in the first inning off Phil Hughes, Pedroia has now homered in the Fenway Park opener for three straight seasons. The only other Red Sox player to do so is Fred Lynn, who accomplished the feat in 1978-1980. Lynn was on hand to witness Pedroias homer, watching from a suite on the first-base side.
The Red Sox have now won seven straight home openers at Fenway Park dating back to the 2005 season the longest stretch of home success on the opening day at the Fens since two six-year runs from 1938-43 and 1907-12.
This was the 28th time the Red Sox hosted the Yankees at Fenway Park on Opening Day and the second year in a row theyve hosted the Yankees. Hall of Fame left fielder Carl Yastrzemski walked out from behind the giant US flag draped over the Green Monster to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day, and bragged to Sox skipper Terry Francona that hes undefeated when he gets the honor.
I told Francona that I'm undefeated throwing out the first pitch, said Yastrzemski in a meeting with reporters. "Both games of the World Series, they won. So they'll win today. He wants me to come back tomorrow if they win."
Anytime a starting pitcher for the Red Sox is linked to Matt Clement its not really a good thing, and so John Lackeys Friday afternoon start was the first time a Sox pitcher won a game with at least five innings pitched and six runs allowed since Clement did it against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 4, 2005.
Lackey saw his ERA drop to 15.58 while his opponents batting average now sits at a robust .395 after a second straight concerning outing after getting knocked around against the Rangers in Texas. At the end of the day Lackey got the victory, but he needs to be much better following Jon Lester in the starting rotation.
My command was fine. Every ball they hit was down the line for extra base hits. If I can keep the ball in the middle a lot of those turn into singles and no runs, said Lackey. It was one game. It worked out, but Ive got to keep working. It wasnt pretty, but it was closer than it looked.
Before the game, left-hander Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment. His 900,000 contract is guaranteed.
Also before the game, right-hander Matt Albers was placed on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle and right-hander Alfredo Aceves was called up from Pawtucket. Left-hander Felix Doubront was also activated from the DL.
Aceves pitched out of the Sox bullpen during Fridays win and is the third Mexican-born pitcher to appear in a game for the Sox. He joined Vicente Romo (1969-70) and Dennys Reyes (2011).
Jonathan Papelbon has earned a save in each of the Sox last three home openers and pitched a scoreless inning in all four home openers in which he has appeared, including 2006.