Trio made some positive first impressions
They know now that each strikeout will be scrutinized. Each mishap on the infield dirt or outfield grass recounted and remembered. Each week or month of inadequacy brought to their attention, perhaps on a street or in the on-deck circle.
Perhaps the new reality of playing in Boston set in when Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, and Mike Cameron first took in the sights and sounds last night at Fenway Park.
On the mound for the ceremonial first pitch was Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. TV cameras were focused on every angle of the field. Two dugouts with the highest percentage of star power in the major leagues. The first contest of the 2010 season for all of America to see.
The trio was often referenced to Red Sox management.
On a roster designed for pitching and defensive excellence, what would become of the Red Sox offense?
The signings of Beltre, Scutaro, and Cameron didn’t electrify Red Sox Nation, but they were often noted as key pieces of a carefully orchestrated plan by general manager Theo Epstein.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about our offense,’’ Scutaro said. “If you look at our lineup, it’s pretty balanced. We have some guys that have had success before, and been in the game for a long time.’’
Beltre brought with him the baggage of last season’s eight-homer output, a far cry from the 20-plus he used to produce regularly.
Batting behind David Ortiz (0 for 3) last night, Beltre brought the crowd to its feet with a tying single to center in the sixth.
The hit scored Kevin Youkilis to make it 5-5 and capped a crucial inning for the previously silent Red Sox offense.
The third baseman also drove in the Sox’ first run of the season in the second inning. His deep fly to center, which required a leap at the wall by Curtis Granderson, brought home Youkilis.
“The media has been making a big deal — that we’re not going to score enough runs,’’ Beltre said. “Today we scored nine and that says something facing a guy like [Yankees starter CC] Sabathia. We know we have the players to put some runs on the board and hopefully we can keep doing that.’’
The never-ending musical roster spot that has been shortstop has made Red Sox fans accustomed to seeing a new face on the Fenway infield nearly every April.
To Beltre’s left last night stood Scutaro, who will do his best to reverse the inadequate production from previous targets of fans’ discontent, Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo among them.
The former Blue Jay had an Opening Night moment in the fifth, producing a hard single to the left and taking second on Brett Gardner’s error. On the play, J.D. Drew scored and Cameron reached third.
Scutaro added to the momentum in the seventh, singling to center to lead off the inning. His at-bat set the stage for Dustin Pedroia’s two-run shot over the Monster two batters later, which tied the score at 7.
Cameron, a 37-year-old veteran, brings leadership at the plate, but more significantly, athleticism when he patrols center field, as he did last night on a set of threatening shots sent his way.
Cameron set the stage for another productive inning in the eighth, when his single to center preceded a Scutaro walk. When Pedroia laced a single to right field, Cameron put his much-discussed speed on display, blazing home for a 9-7 lead and beating a potentially close play.
“That was one of those games I guess — I’m going to learn it’s going to be like that all year,’’ Cameron said of the atmosphere. “A comeback is always good. It’s the sign of a good baseball team.’’
The trio brought a dose of energy to the lineup, which early on appeared lifeless (one hit through 4 2/3 innings) but gradually found its rhythm.
“We just try to go out and play the best we can,’’ Cameron said. “We’ll let everybody else talk about things we can’t control.’’
In terms of questions directed at the Sox lineup, for one night, at least, there were answers.