BOSTON -- And on the seventh day, the nation exhaled.
Dustin Pedroia promised the Sox weren’t going to go 0-162 and then performed the anatomically impossible feat of placing the rest of the team on his size-XS shoulders. Pedroia homered in the first, ripping his elbow pad off as he circled the bases; delivered a two-run single in Boston’s five-run second; made a daring slide home in the same inning; and generally electrified the joint. Whatever Kelly Pedroia told her husband when he returned home Thursday night (he had predicted she’d greet him with “You’re 0-6. You stink’’), let’s hope she stays on message.
This was the third consecutive home opener in which Pedroia has gone deep, BTW.
Welcome mat extended, no strings attached: It helped that one prospective candidate was eliminated when Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment before the game, replaced by rookie Felix Doubront, but the crowd of 37,178 didn’t target anyone for boos during pregame introductions. Cheers may have been more muted than if the team had opened 6-0, but applause greeted players across the board, with the old folks --Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and 91-year-old Johnny Pesky --getting the warmest receptions.
Out of left field -- one with honor, one without: Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first ball, a thunderous ovation greeting him when he emerged out of the left-field wall. Then, around about the seventh inning, came the news that Manny Ramirez, who is remembered for going inside the left-field wall during a game, had retired after being informed by MLB that he had an “issue” related to the game’s drug-prevention policy. Shortly thereafter, various news outlets reported that Manny had tested positive for another PED during spring training, and rather than face a possible 100-game suspension as a two-time offender, he informed MLB he was quitting.
Perfect 'penmanship: The back end of the Sox bullpen -- Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon -- performed just the way the Sox scripted it in the offseason. Jenks pitched a scoreless seventh (a walk and a whiff), Bard pitched a 1-2-3 eighth (one whiff) and Papelbon recorded his first save with two strikeouts and a fly ball to short center, touching off an October-worthy celebration in the stands.
He was credited with WHAT?: Yup, John Lackey was credited with the win, even though he gave up six runs in five innings and was whacked for six extra-base hits, including a home run by Alex Rodriguez. His ERA did drop, though, from 22.09 to 15.58, so we suppose that’s progress.
Shafting the shift: Adrian Gonzalez said in Cleveland that he welcomed teams overshifting him and put on a clinic that explained why Friday afternoon, shooting an RBI single through the vacant shortstop spot in the second inning and dropping a bunt single to open the seventh, touching off a two-run rally.
Leading off, but not leading man: Carl Crawford batted leadoff for the first time since he hit No. 1 in the first seven games of the 2007 season and went hitless in five trips. Don’t see him volunteering to stay in that spot long. He always has said he thought he “stank” in that spot. He did make a couple of nice catches, though.
And the new HD scoreboards are terrific ...