There was much hope that the Boston Red Sox would be better than last season’s mess of a team, but their opening series of the season won’t inspire much confidence in that claim. The Sox got swept by the Baltimore Orioles to open their 2021 season, and were pretty much outplayed in every facet of the game against arguably the worst team in the league. Boston was shutout on Opening Day, somewhat competitive yesterday, and got blown out today. Nobody seemed ready to play, and they were swept out of their own stadium by the Orioles as a result of it.
With Opening Day getting pushed back to Friday, the Sox looked to open their season up with a victory over John Means and the O’s, but were blanked the entire game, and ended up losing 3-0. Means gave up a leadoff single to Kike Hernandez to begin the day, and then didn’t give up another hit along the way, as he cruised through seven shutout innings. The Sox would only pick up one more hit on the day, leaving Nathan Eovoldi as the hard luck loser. Eovoldi had a solid opening day performance, going 5 1/3 innings and only allowing one run. He was let down by a lack of offense, and some poor fielding performances, particularly from Rafael Devers at third. Hernandez also committed a costly error that led to another run for the O’s, as the infield defense immediately popped up as a concern.
Things didn’t get much better in the second game, as the Sox lost again 4-2. More fielding errors hurt the Sox, as Rafael Devers had a costly poor throw that would end up really hurting Boston. Tanner Houck got the starting nod and pitched pretty well, going five innings and picking up eight strikeouts, but again was provided no run support from the starting lineup. Marwin Gonzalez and J.D. Martinez would drive in the Sox two runs, but it wasn’t enough to pull out the victory. The chances were there, especially in the bottom of the ninth when the first two men reached, but the offense couldn’t pull off the comeback.
And then came today’s blowout loss, as the O’s scored seven runs in the third inning to end this one before it really started. Garrett Richards made his first start for Boston, and made a horrible first impression. Going 2+ innings, Richards ended up giving up six runs in this one, and saw his day end when he started the third inning by loading the bases. Josh Taylor came on and somehow made things worse by retiring only two of the eight batters he faced, before Garrett Whitlock mercifully came on and ended the inning. By the time the inning ended, the score was 10-0, and with what the Red Sox offense showed over their past two games, there was virtually no shot at a comeback. Gonzalez and Martinez combined to drive in Boston’s three runs, with Martinez hitting the first home run of the season for the Sox, leading to a final score of 11-3.
It’s safe to say the Red Sox opening series was a disappointment, and that’s putting it lightly for what it’s worth. This looked like a team that hadn’t seen the field in months despite just finishing up spring training a couple of days ago, as they struggled just about everywhere. Aside from Martinez and Christian Vazquez, nobody had any success on offense, as a good portion of the lineup is still looking for their first hit. The infield defense was especially poor in the first two games, as there’s a chance the outcome would have been different had their errors been avoided. And while Eovoldi and Houck were solid in their starts, Richards and most of the bullpen were shaky. They couldn’t come in and hold the work their starters had done, and it hurt in the first two games. There were some standout performances, such as Whitlock firing a scoreless 3 1/3 innings in today’s matchup, but they will need better innings out of the pen.
Baseball is a fickle sport by nature, but this is just an awful way to start the season. After an awful 2020 season, the Red Sox and their fans were looking forward to the new season to get the bad taste from last season our of their mouths. Instead, it was the same old story as last season. The pitching was spotty, the offense couldn’t produce, and they were completely outplayed by a team that was given a 0% chance of making the playoffs this season. This team has to get their act together if they want to stay relevant in the Boston sports landscape, especially with the Boston Celtics and Bruins looking set for playoff appearences this spring.
The Sox will now welcome in the Tampa Bay Rays for a three game set, and hopefully the Sox can start finding some answers in this series. The Rays are a much different looking team than the one that made it to the World Series this past season, but they always seem to find a way to put together a solid team, and that shouldn’t be any different this season. The Rays opened the season with a 2-1 series victory over the Miami Marlins, and should be favored to take this upcoming series based off Boston’s recent performances. It’d be nice to say things get easier soon, but the Sox just got swept by the worst team in the MLB, so unless the Sox figure things out soon, it could be another long season.
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