NEW YORK — The baseball was scuffed after being put in play and the seams had a little dirt on them. But there it sat on the desk, carefully wedged between the telephone and computer keyboard so it would not roll away.
It was one of the best gifts John Farrell ever had received, a memento of his first game as manager of the Red Sox and Monday’s 8-2 victory against the Yankees.
Joel Hanrahan gave Farrell the ball after he threw the final pitch of the game and got Brett Gardner to foul out.
“I thought he might like it, this being his first win as the Red Sox manager,” Hanrahan said. “I hope there’s a lot more.”
Farrell, who arrived at Yankee Stadium at 7 a.m., six hours before the first pitch, sat back in his office chair later on and said he appreciated the gesture. It was just one game in a long season, but it was one worth remembering.
“Today was a very good day in a number of ways,” Farrell said.
The Sox, so lifeless last season in losing 93 games, played with passion and a sense of purpose. They had 13 hits and drew eight walks. Five relief pitchers combined on four scoreless innings, allowing only three Yankees to reach base.
The Sox also ran the bases aggressively and made several nice plays in the field.
“Nothing complicated. Just playing hard,” said Jonny Gomes, who scored from second base on an infield single in the ninth inning and popped up pumping his fist after sliding across the plate. “You saw today how to win a game.”
Veteran Shane Victorino, who struggled in spring training, had two hits and drove in three runs. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. made an impactful debut, drawing three walks, scoring two runs, driving in another, and saving a run with a running catch.
Jacoby Ellsbury, missing for much of last season, had three hits and drove in two runs. Jose Iglesias did more with his bat than his glove, collecting three infield hits and driving in a run.
The Sox became a new team after general manager Ben Cherington remade the roster. They played like it. The team that ended last season with losses in 22 of its final 29 games is no more.
“The personality of your manager kind of plays out with the personality of the team” said Jon Lester, who allowed two runs over five innings for his first victory as an Opening Day starter. “He’s a very positive, upbeat guy. He’s always prepared, always full of information if you need. That trickles down to the coaching staff and to us.
“I think a lot of us felt embarrassed about what happened last year. We’re busting our butts to try not to let that happen again.”
Yankees started CC Sabathia, like Lester, lasted five innings. But he gave up four runs, all in the second inning.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with one out before Gomes singled off the glove of Jayson Nix at third. Bradley was next and in his first career plate appearance, he fell behind 0-and-2 and worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases.
Iglesias grounded a ball into the hole at shortstop. Eduardo Nunez went to second base but Bradley beat the throw as a run scored. That proved big.
When Ellsbury grounded to first Gomes was out at the plate. But Victorino, who has hit well against Sabathia in his career, singled in two with a rip to left. Dustin Pedroia then made it 4-0 with a sharp single to center.
Bradley saved a run in the third inning when he tracked down a drive by Robinson Cano on the warning track in left field with a runner on second.
“The wind was tricky all day. It was a lot harder play than it looked,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “Jackie is as good as everybody says in the outfield.”
Lester gave two of the runs back in the fourth inning. But Farrell had relievers Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa, and Hanrahan lined up for the last four innings and they allowed one runner beyond first base.
A Yankees lineup missing the injured Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira had only six hits. It was the first time the Yankees had lost on Opening Day at home in 11 games dating to 1982.
The Sox kept pressing against the New York bullpen. With runners on first and third in the seventh inning, Farrell wanted Bradley to put down a safety squeeze bunt. But Bradley had to pull the bat back when lefty Boone Logan came inside against him. Up in the count, Bradley hit the ball hard up the middle.
The ball deflected off Logan to second base and Bradley was out. But he had driven in the run.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Bradley said of his full day. “I was ready.”
The ninth inning was more of the same. Joba Chamberlain walked Saltalamacchia before Gomes singled and Bradley walked again. With two outs, Ellsbury grounded a ball into the hole at first base.Continued...