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The Boston Red Sox get a day off to lick their wounds after being soundly whipped by the Texas Rangers in the opening weekend of the 2011 season. The Sox were outscored 26-11, and the Rangers teed off for 11 home runs in the three game series. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz became the first pair of teammates in major league history to each homer in the first three games of the season.
Pretty astounding stuff, especially considering that the Rangers teed off against two of the best pitchers in the American League last season, John Lester and Clay Buchholz.
While Buchholz went 6 1/3 innings in yesterday’s 5-1 loss, giving up only five hits, four of the five hits were solo home runs. David Murphy, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz all connected against Buchholz, who only gave up nine home runs all of last season.
So, is this weekend’s whitewash reason to panic? The Red Sox haven’t started a season 0-3 since 1996, so should Red Sox Nation be waving red flags?
The Texas Rangers aren’t the American League champs without reason. This team can simply hit, and hit well. Yes, Sox pitchers left balls over the plate, and the Rangers know what to do with mistake pitches. However, starting on the road in Texas was definitely not the easiest draw in the world.
Three games does not a season make, and Josh Beckett will have the chance to right his own ship and that of his team on Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.
If the Sox are well under .500 by the end of April, then yes, fans can start jumping from the Zakim bridge. But at least let us pragmatists talk you down first.
The 2011 season has not started swimmingly for the Boston Red Sox thus far, certainly not with the offensive explosion that had been hoped for. While the Texas Rangers have scored 21 runs in the first two games and have made the Sox pitching staff look like a beer league softball team, the Sox have not gotten the offensive explosive they would have hoped for.
However, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz have been the bright spots thus far for the Red Sox in their lineup. A-Gone is 5-9 in his first two games with three runs batted, and has looked very comfortable at the plate, apparently fully healed from the shoulder woes that led to offseason surgery.
Ditto for designated hitter David Ortiz. Big Papi, who didn’t homer last season until April 23 and had gotten off to terrible starts in both 2009 and 2010, has homered twice thus far. Saturday evening, Ortiz passed Seattle Mariners’ great Edgar Martinez as the all-time leader among designated hitters in runs batted in with 1,004.
“Well, that’s something when they mention your name with the caliber of Edgar Martinez and those guys, it makes you feel good,” Ortiz told MLB.com. “I’ve put a lot of hard work together. Those things, I don’t think about it right now while I’m playing. One day, I’ll sit down and look at it. Right now, I’ll focus on trying to win the game and keep on rolling that way.”
Jacoby Ellsbury has also been a bright spot for the Sox at the leadoff positon, hitting .375 with one homer, two runs batted in and a stolen base thus far.
At least Adrian Beltre won’t be around to fracture any more of Ellsbury’s ribs. However, Beltre did big time damage against the Sox last night, belting a grand-slam home run of John Lackey, who gave up nine runs on ten hits before departing in the fourth.
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When David Murphy was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft out of Baylor University, he was considered a fine catch at the time. As he developed his skills in the Sox farm system, management was delighted with his progress and saw good things coming for the future outfielder.
photo credit texas_mustang via Creative Commons license
At the trade deadline during the 2007 season, the Sox had an opportunity to grab former closer Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers. However, the Rangers were insistent that Murphy was included in the deal. The Sox relented, and while Gagne’s career in Boston was a whitewash, Murphy has shined during his 3 1/2 seasons in Texas, and quickly became a fan favorite.
When Murphy was introduced as a pinch hitter during the bottom of the eighth inning in yesterday’s Opening Day game between the Sox and Rangers, he was greeted to a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Stepping in against Sox setup man Daniel Bard, with two runners on and the scored tied at 5-5, Murphy laced a line drive down the left field that hit the chalk and rolled all the way to the wall, scoring two runs in what proved to be the game-winning hit.
Murphy had pinch-hit for Julio Borbon, and now the controversy will begin in Texas as to why Borbon is even in the starting lineup. Rangers manager Ron Washington has stated that he wanted Borbon in center and reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton in left, in order to save Hamilton wear and tear on his knees.
The Boston Red Sox, playing their Opening Day game with a heavy heart after learning of the death of long-time Sox executive Lou Gorman, allowed the Texas Rangers to score four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, losing to the Rangers, 9-5.
Setup man Daniel Bard entered the game in the bottom of the eighth for the Sox, after, designated hitter David Ortiz homered off Texas pitcher Darren Oliver to tie the game at 5-5.
However, after Bard got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right field, Bard walked Mike Napoli and allowed a single to catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
David Murphy, pinch hitting for Julio Borbon and a big fan favorite in Texas, then laced a double down the left field line, scoring both Napoli and Torrealba.
The Rangers weren’t done quite yet. After Ian Kinsler struck out, Elvis Andrus followed with a double to right-center, scoring Murphy, and Josh Hamilton, last year’s American League MVP who had struggled at the plate up to that point, also doubled, scoring Andrus and ending Bard’s disastrous outing.
The Sox started the game with two unearned runs off C.J. Wilson courtesy of a Julio Borbon error, when he inexplicably bumped into right fielder Nelson Cruz on a routine fly to right, causing Cruz to drop the ball. The Sox capitalized when Kevin Youkilis doubled off the right field wall, scoring Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez followed with his first hit as a member of the Sox, singling to right field to score Youkilis. Gonzalez was thrown out on the play when he tried to stretch his single into a double.