The Red Sox can still win 161 games in 2014, but it won't happen if they keep stranding 12 runners each time they play. Boston left a dozen runners on base in Monday's 2-1 Opening Day loss in Baltimore. It was the dirtiest of dozens for the Red Sox and their fans, who are still half-buzzed from all that was 2013.
The hitting is behind the pitching, unless your name is Grady Sizemore, who homered and singled in his Red Sox debut.
The lack of hitting is understandable when real baseball is being played during the month of March inside the windy confines of Camden Yards. But one game into the season, dealing Stephen Drew and Jenny Dell for Will Middlebrooks would be a deal many Red Sox fans might happily consider.
Middlebrooks went 0-for-3 Monday [he was hit by a pitch in the ninth] and stranded four runners all by himself. This occurred with him wearing new contact lenses.
He must have gotten those contacts from this guy:
Nothing that happened last season happened on Monday. Well, not exactly nothing. The Red Sox lost, something they did 65 times during the regular season in 2013.
But there was no thrilling, NESN-commercial-quality, come-from behind victory. There was no ninth-inning game-tying home run from David Ortiz. His fly ball to left-center was held up by the wind just to die at the warning track. Shane Victorino, he of all those clutch 2013 late-inning heroics, did not come through with the game on the line, he was on the DL. Jackie Bradley Jr., who took Victorino's spot on the roster, didn't deliver with the game on the line and two out in the ninth, either. He simply struck out.
Pedroia had two hits, including a single in the ninth, and made sure his uniform was filthy by the fourth inning. Nothing new there. Lester was vintage Lester, going seven innings while allowing two earned runs and six hits while striking out eight. Lester did not allow anyone not suspended in connection with the Biogenesis scandal last season to score.
Nelson Cruz tallied both of Baltimore's runs. His second score courtesy of a game-winning home run to left field on Lester's first pitch of the seventh inning. Cruz served his 50-game suspension for violating baseball's PED policy last August while the Red Sox were rolling to the A.L. East title. Cruz returned for Texas' loss to Tampa Bay in the A.L. Wild-Card tiebreaker game and was signed by the Orioles as a free-agent in February.
We're not in 2013 anymore.
It will take a while for Dell's die-hard fans to move on from her absence. Both #FreeJenny and #FreeJennyDell got some traction on Twitter in Boston during Monday's frustrating 2-1 loss. The Red Sox would have been better served freeing some of their base runners.
Dell's replacement - at least for Monday - was the young and quite able Gary Striewski, which sort of rhymes with Yastrzemski. Striewski, who is undeniably in a tough position given what happened to his predecessor, performed well in his rookie debut.
He even delivered a bit of news, telling the NESN audience that the Red Sox would not be wearing those outrageously tacky, and yet so outlandishly patriotic red, white and blue USA flag blazers to the White House.
That's quite a scoop given what we normally get from any sideline reporter on a team-sanctioned broadcast, and the hype given those blazers in the past week.
The jackets would have been a terrific representation of the 2013 Red Sox, even at the White House. However, the potential for blowback and criticism from all sides probably make the gesture not worth the potential reward. Those Red Sox that did everything no one expected them to do and at the same time helped the city and region in their civic healing process.
Tim Thomas is probably jealous as hell that he didn't think of it first. That might have been the tipping point to get him to go to the White House with the Bruins in 2012. Imagine Timmy might even give his Conn Smythe Trophy for a photo-op of himself refusing a handshake from the current Commander in Chief while wearing one of those Old Glory suits.
The Red Sox trip to the White House Tuesday morning [live at 11:15 a.m. on NESN] won't end the 2013 hangover. Opening Day at Fenway Park is Friday, another 40-something-ring salute to the defending World Champions. Possibilities for the first pitch could range from the firefighters assigned to the Engine 33, Ladder 15 firehouse; to those who survived the Marathon bombings [perhaps 8-year-old Jane Richard and her sporty new 'Cheetah' leg]; to the families of those who perished [Richard, sadly, fits that description]; to any one of a number of former Red Sox players.
Personally, I'd love to see 2007 ALCS MVP Josh Beckett or 2004 World Series MVP Manny Ramirez get a crack in the player category. Beckett, who is on the DL but could come off Friday to start the Dodgers' home opener, would probably bail during the windup, citing exhaustion and pulled back-fat. Manny might toss the ball into the stands thinking there were two out, then walk into the Green Monster and never return.
Potential for greatness.
In reality, Friday will be another day of celebration inside and around Fenway Park. A day, no doubt tinged with emotion and retrospect. It will be the best signal thus far for anyone who follows the Red Sox and has been crushed by New England's Nuclear Weather Winter that there will, someday, be a spring and summer in Greater Boston.
It just won't be as much fun inside the ball park as 2013 was.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail him at email@example.com. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.