The Red Sox magic number to clinch the American League East is down to 161.
Though unstated, it was a given that the Red Sox would want to put last season’s Keystone Kops routine back in Ted Turner’s film vault and forget all about it, and took a big step toward doing just that with an 8-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday afternoon for the Season Opener for both at Yankee Stadium…
…and calling them the Yankees needs to be done very loosely, as the players that Boston faced in The Bronx were a collection of recent acquisitions mixed with a smattering of familiar faces.
Perennial all stars Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are all on the Disabled list for New York, but you won’t find much sympathy from the Red Sox, nor from their own fans, who climbed squarely on the Yankees backs after a four run second inning that gave Boston an early 4-0 lead.
“You’re talking about some of the best players in the game. It’s going to be a little different,” said losing pitcher C.C. Sabathia in regard to the Yankees MIA players “But we know what we have to do and who’s not here. That’s not an excuse.”
The big lefty settled in after being touched for the four runs and allowed 8 hits in his five innings, while walking four and striking out 5. The Yankees depleted lineup was limited and at times seemingly disorganized, and gave Sabathia no help from the plate.
The lone bright spot, catcher Francisco Cervelli , who spent nearly all last season in Triple-A, had a two-run single off Lester in the fourth and made a swift tag on Ellsbury sliding into home plate in the sixth to prevent an even bigger blowout.
Conversely, Boston’s new-look lineup came out aggressively on offense early, with Designated Hitter Jonny Gomes lacing a single to left to start off a four hit, four run rally in the top of the second inning.
“I think how you saw it is how we can win a lot of ballgames,” Gomes said. “It was kind of all there early.”
Right fielder Shane Victorino went 2 for 6 and plating three while rookie sensation Jackie Bradley, Jr. drew three walks on a 1 for 2 afternoon, scored twice and drove in a run in support of starting pitcher Jon Lester, who faced 23 batter in five innings, yielding five hits and striking out seven.
Bradley had an immediate impact in his first major league start, showing off the aggressiveness that won him a spot on the club and serves as an example of what new Sox manager John Farrell wants to see from his players, both old and new.
“We want to put pressure on the opposition,” Farrell said. “And that’s not strictly with attempted steals and how we look to run the bases first to third, but the attitude and how we go about our work.”
And that’s the difference between this years club and last year’s edition, the attitude.
It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, if these Red Sox go out and prepare diligently and keep the mind set that they are going to smartly attack teams from the plate and on the bases, play solid defense and get quality starts from the rotation, they can’t lose…
…but we know that’s not the case. They’re going to lose games, but they’re win their share as well. Will it be enough to get them into the post-season? That question will be answered five long months from now, but if their performance against the “Yankees” in the season opener was any indication, they’ll certainly be in the mix somewhere.
So we may as well start counting down the magic number now. 161.
The two teams resume their opening series on Wednesday in the Bronx with Clay Buckholtz facing off against Hiroki Kuroda.