Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Red Sox 5
April, 1, 2011
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Some initial thoughts from Boston’s 9-5 Opening Day loss to the Rangers:
* Three goin' yard and a cloud of chalk: Jon Lester gave up three home runs in the first four innings, and Rangers pinch hitter David Murphy kicked up the chalk with a two-run double that landed on the left-field line, breaking a 5-all tie. Two more RBI doubles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, and the Rangers’ four-run rally made a loser of setup man Daniel Bard, who in 73 appearances last season never gave up more than two runs. He was charged with 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning.
* Murphy’s law: Murphy, one-time property of the Sox, was pinch hitting for the No. 9 hitter in the Rangers order, Julio Borbon, when he sliced a 3-and-1 pitch from Bard for an opposite-field, two-run double, the ball landing right on the left-field foul line.
* This Papi is a rolling stone: David Ortiz said he hoped to get off to a start that would shut people up about his previous two Aprils. He took a big step in that direction with his game-tying, 406-foot home run to dead center in the top of the eighth off Darren Oliver, a (pause for dramatic effect) lefthander. Ortiz had just two home runs off lefties last season.
This matched the earliest Ortiz has ever hit a home run in a season. He hit an April Fool's homer off Jeff Suppan in 2002. He went six weeks before hitting a home run in 2009, on May 20. Last season, his first homer came on April 23.
* Gonzilla: Adrian Gonzalez lined an RBI single to right in his first Sox at-bat, lined a two-run single in his second, and played a strong game at first base, saving at least one error for Kevin Youkilis. He also was credited with only his second stolen base of his career when Rangers didn’t hold him on with two outs and two strikes on David Ortiz in the third.
* Don’t start me up: The Sox need to recalibrate Jon Lester’s calendar. In his first Opening Day start, Lester gave up three home runs in the first four innings, the first time he has been taken deep three times in a game in his 124 career starts. Lester‘s velocity never registered higher than 91 miles an hour, though it was a down-and-in curveball that Mike Napoli golfed for a three-run home run in the fourth that gave Texas a 5-4 lead. This was only the second time in his career that Lester failed to strike out a batter in a game. Ian Kinsler hit Lester's second pitch of the game for a home run and Nelson Cruz hit a solo home run in the second.
Lester in his first start of the season, over the last four seasons (dating back to 2008): 19 1/3 IP, 24 H, 18 ER, 9 B, 13 SO, 5 HR, 4 HB, 8.38 ERA. Not exactly quick out of the chute. Over his career, Lester has an April ERA of 4.95 (57 ER in 103 2/3 innings); starting in May, he’s 58-19 with a 3.37 ERA.
* Don’t start me up, II: Carl Crawford lined weakly to short and struck out three times in his Sox debut.
* Leading man: Back to his accustomed leadoff spot, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base four times, scored twice, walked once, doubled and singled, and stole a base.