The Boston Red Sox got their first win of the 2014 season last night, beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2. Both Mike Napoli and David Ortiz homered and John Lackey delivered six solid innings in a great team effort.
Tonight, Felix Doubront takes the mound in Oriole Park against Wei-Yin Chen in the rubber match of the 2014 opening series. This season is a crucial one for Doubront, who has shown a lot of promise since becoming nearly a full-time starer in 2012. He has to show the ability to get deeper into games, and needs to learn to let his defense help him out instead of trying to fan every hitter in the opposing lineup.
In three games against Baltimore last season, Doubront struggled. He gave up 10 earned runs in 12.2 innings pitched and in classic Felix fashion, walked five hitters in those innings. Luckily, his opponent Chen has struggled against the Sox. His 7.29 ERA last year against Boston was his worst against any team last season. The Sox tend to struggle with hard throwing lefties, so Chen shouldn’t give them any problem this evening.
The Red Sox hitters looked much more comfortable at the plate yesterday against Ubaldo Jimenez. Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts have given the team very good at-bats early in the season, which doesn’t surprise anyone. The bullpen has also been great in the early going. It is nice to see Junichi Tazawa off to a good start, and Edward Mujica looked good in his Sox debut.
Nelson Cruz has two homers in the first two games this season. He is clearly looking good in his return from suspension at the end of 2013. It’s okay if Doubront gives up number three to him today, as long as he doesn’t walk anyone in front of Cruz.
Here are today’s starting lineups for the Sox courtesy of ESPN.com:
1. Jonny Gomes, LF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
6. Daniel Nava, RF
7. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
8. David Ross, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
SP — Felix Doubront, LHP