Monday, April 13, 2015

Betts foot forward: Red Sox dominate Nationals

The Red Sox simply couldn't have scripted a better home opener than the one they had on Monday against the Washington Nationals. Playing under bright sun and unseasonably mild temperatures, the home team clicked in just about every way during a 9-4 victory.
Mookie Betts robbed Bryce Harper of a homer, stole two bases in one sequence and clubbed a three-run homer. David Ortiz added two hits, including a homer over the Green Monster in left-center. Catcher Sandy Leon, acquired from the Nationals late in Spring Training, produced three hits against his former team. Pablo Sandoval added two hits and had a nice play at third base in his first home game for Boston.
From the mound, Rick Porcello protected the lead his offense gave him, holding the Nationals to four hits and four runs (three earned) over eight innings. It was Porcello's first win for the Red Sox.
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a tough afternoon, giving up nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) over 2 1/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Marvelous Mookie: Betts seems to have an affinity for openers. In Boston's season opener one week ago, Betts belted a homer. The center fielder put on a clinic in this one, and he created excitement early in the game when he perfectly timed his jump to take a two-run homer away from Harper in the top of the first. The three-run homer that Betts ripped over the Monster in the second made it a 4-0 game.
Porcello goes deep in win: Perhaps the most important thing Porcello did on Monday aside from winning was giving the Red Sox eight innings. Their bullpen still feeling the after-effects of Friday's 19-inning win over the Yankees, the extended performance was just what they needed.
Shoddy defense for Washington: The box score said the Nationals committed one error in the game, but they had a tough time catching the ball throughout the game. In the third inning, Mike Napoli hit a fly ball to left-center field. It looked like Michael Taylor had a bead on the ball, but it dropped in for a single. Napoli would later score on a single by Betts. Later in the inning, Leon hit what looked like a fly ball to right-center field. Harper nor Taylor had an idea on who would make the catch and the ball fell in for an RBI hit.
Zimmermann has rough day: The right-hander had one of the worst games of his career, as his ERA skyrocketed from 1.50 to 8.64.
QUOTABLE
"Hopefully it means a hard, cold winter is once and for all behind everyone. The warm weather is upon us. I spent a majority of the winter here and can empathize to a certain point to what everyone in New England dealt with and the challenges that were presented. Hopefully this is a chance to put all that behind us mentally and, really, tangibly, with a great day on hand." -- Red Sox manager Farrell, on the Red Sox coming home after a long, harsh winter of record-setting snow on Boston
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Not only did Betts steal two bases on one play, but he was almost out both times. Therefore, that left Nationals manager Matt Williams in the rare position to challenge two plays at once. However, after a review of approximately three minutes, both calls stood, as there was no clear and convincing evidence to overturn either one. In the play at second, Betts slid in safely, and he then bolted for third due to the fact the Nationals didn't have anyone covering there because of the shift on Ortiz. As Betts took off, Danny Espinosa still had his glove on him after trying to make the tag at second. Betts dove head-first into third, and just beat the tag of Zimmermann.
CEREMONIAL START
Per usual, the Red Sox provided their fans with an elaborate Opening Day ceremony that seemed to hit all the right notes. Tom Brady, fresh off leading the Patriots to another Super Bowl championship in February, fired the ceremonial first pitch to Ortiz. Big Papi scooped Brady's throw out of the dirt, completing the exchange between two players who have combined to win seven championships. The most emotional moment came when the Red Sox presented former Boston College captain Pete Frates with a one-day contract. Frates, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2012, helped create the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer which raised millions.
WHAT'S NEXT
Red Sox: Justin Masterson makes his first home start for the Red Sox since 2009 in Game 2 of this three-game set on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET. Masterson was impressive in his first start of the season last week in Philadelphia, striking out seven over six strong innings to earn the win.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg will face the Red Sox for the second time in his career.In his only start against them, Strasburg allowed two runs in six innings. He needs to find a way to stop Hanley Ramirez, who is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run and two RBIs against the right-hander. .

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