Friday, April 4, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Brewers 6, Red Sox 2
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Following a rousing pregame ceremony on Friday in which the Red Sox received their World Series rings and a packed house at Fenway Park paid tribute to its city’s many heroes, there was a baseball game that almost had the feel of an afterthought.
In the end, it was one the Sox would like to forget.
Boston managed just five hits against four Milwaukee Brewers pitchers and saw reliever Edward Mujica give up four runs in the top of the ninth in a 6-2 loss on Opening Day at Fenway.
The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak in home openers for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Boo-jica: In his first game as a member of the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Mujica was lit up. The first pitch he threw was rattled into the left-field corner by Khris Davis, who eventually scored the tiebreaking run. The Brewers tallied four hits in two-thirds of an inning against Mujica.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game that he was hesitant about using a reliever three days in a row at this point of the season. That would’ve disqualified both Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, so Mujica was in line to get the big outs in this one. Unfortunately for the Sox, he could not get it done, with a close play at third base on a bunt going against Boston and opening the door for the rally.
Andrew Miller eventually took over and didn’t look much better. The lanky lefty walked the first two men he faced on 10 pitches in his season debut. Miller also walked eight batters in 5 1/3 innings during spring training as he shakes off the rust of a season-ending foot injury last summer.
Good enough: One of manager John Farrell’s pregame comments that resonated during the game was one on starter Jake Peavy. “He’s kept every game under control that he’s gone out and started for us,” Farrell said.
There were times when it felt as if this one might get out of control, but Peavy got outs when he needed them. Milwaukee had a home run, a triple, a single and a walk in the first two innings and got a runner into scoring position with less than two outs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but Peavy limited the damage early and escaped trouble late in his six innings of work.
An E on X: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was saddled with his first error in the majors after a liner in the sixth bounced off his glove and trickled into left field. Bogaerts did end the top of the seventh by charging a slow roller behind the mound and nipping Ryan Braun by a whisker at first.
Watch and learn: Aside from his power and solid defense at first base, Mike Napoli provides to the Red Sox a phenomenal boost in his ability to work counts. He saw 4.59 pitches per game in 2013, far and away the highest rate in the majors, and did his best to make Milwaukee pitchers sweat.
Napoli worked a 10-pitch walk his first time up and a 10-pitch walk his third time up, seeing 27 pitches in four plate appearances overall.
The Sox averaged 4.01 pitches per plate appearance last year, compared to the league average of 3.86. Although the sample size is extremely small, Boston had dipped to 3.87 entering Friday, lagging behind the league mark of 3.94.
Napoli is doing his part. Others have been less selective.
An impressive debut: Red Sox right-hander Burke Badenhop made his team and season debut a good one, tossing two scoreless innings to get it to the ninth. Badenhop also hustled over to get the putout to end a big 3-6-1 double play in the eighth and recorded one strikeout against his former team.
Not something you see every day: The first hit of the season at Fenway Park may last as one of its oddest, as Brewers shortstop Jean Segura recorded a triple down the left-field line, a near-impossible feat at Fenway.
Mike Carp, whose experience in left in Fenway is limited, did not get the ball in as quickly as he should have, but give Segura credit for not stopping around second and taking the extra base. Peavy struck out the next two batters to retire the side unscathed.