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Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

Even Mujica's implosion can't ruin a perfect Fenway opener

What a week. From ‘Merica to Mujica.

The first four games of the Red Sox’ 2014 season are in the books, which means we can make some pretty sound judgments about this team, as long as you’re the sort that can determine how any year is going to turn out after 2.5 percent of the dates on the baseball calendar. That’s like deciding that 2014 was going to be the year to forget after something like 10 days, which wouldn’t have even gotten you to the Patriots-Colts playoff game.

(I have no idea if that math is correct.)

In any case, Fenway Park’s 2014 opener was kind of like the first quartet of the season thus far. Comme Ci Comme Ça.

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First of all, who kidnapped Dr. Charles Steinberg, and where are you stashing him? The pre-game ring ceremony (presented by Samsung, as those of you who streamed the presentation are well aware of) was a welcome, muted antidote to the wordy mess that the Red Sox’ “maestro” normally employs in such moments, most notably prior to the first home game after last year’s Boston Marathon, saved with expletives courtesy of David Ortiz.

The ring ceremony, presented by Samsung, was perfectly done, balancing a memorable 2013 season video montage with marathon survivors, who delivered the rings from the outfield walls, as if they were Ray Liotta emerging from a field of corn. The Red Sox players and staff then received their rings without announcement, allowing the crowd and players to soak everything in in tune with the sound system and the moment.

Nothing was overdone, which in the World of Steinberg is like asking for a slice of pizza at Bradlees, in 2014 or otherwise. Good luck with that.

As for the game? If you were there past the top of the ninth, may we say, hello, Amber, John, Richard, Michael, Danny, and Suzanne. Are we missing anybody?

Fenway Park looked like a 2012 “sellout” in the wake of Edward Mujica’s implosion in the top of the ninth inning Friday afternoon, transforming what was an entertaining, tightly-contested 2-2 game into a 6-2 laugher, as the Milwaukee Brewers ruined the Red Sox’ party. As colleague Adam Kaufman pointed out, “Koji Uehara allowed 9 earned runs last SEASON. Edward Mujica just gave up 4 in two-thirds of an INNING.”

Ruining your summer yet?

Meh. If Joel Hanrahan is any indication, Mujica will be on a short leash if he doesn’t rebound this month, but that terrible performance (21.60 ERA!) simply can’t underscore just how well-pitched these first few games have been. Yes, that includes Jake Peavy, who wasn't exactly in his former Cy Young form Friday afternoon (six hits, two runs, over six innings), but may we remind you that Aaron Cook was in the starting rotation two years ago?

Aaron Cook.

This is all we’ve seen from the starting five thus far: Jon Lester made one mistake on Opening Day. John Lackey was efficient in earning the Red Sox’ first win of the year. Felix Doubront worked quicker than any of us can remember, yet still tired after 70-plus pitches, and Peavy rebounded from a couple early hiccups to deliver his team another quality start.

Oh right, and Clay Buchholz pitches for the first time this season tomorrow. We won’t even offer a disabled list by Sunday joke here either.

It was that good of a day, despite the loss.

Really.

“It was awesome,” Dustin Pedroia said of the opening ceremonies.

Cue the Lego characters.

The Red Sox may be 2-2, but they have been four entertaining games to begin the year, about all you can ask for in the zygote stage of a baseball season. Last season is in the mirror, a memory to be cherished but no longer celebrated. Peavy’s first pitch on Friday sealed that deal.

It was an Opening Week that featured some Grady Sizemore, will-he or won’t-he drama, the first second-guess of John Farrell’s season on Opening Day, David Ortiz’s selfie-gate, and ensuing - cha-ching - home run of the season, and of course, Jonny Gomes’ fashion tribute to the Good Ol’ USA on the White House lawn.

Baseball has been back for days. But all that matters around here is that the Red Sox are back in Boston.

Eighty more dates at Fenway. They won’t all be like this. But we can only hope there can be one such similar day again next April.


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