John Farrell had a hunch and went with it. With the Orioles sending lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the mound, he wanted to sit his young, fresh face Jackie Bradley Jr. In his place, he put Daniel Nava, who last year hit .185 against lefties.
For a day, Nava defied the numbers.
He went 2 for 2 with a three-run home run in the seventh inning that blew up what had been a tense pitchers duel between Chen and Sox starter Clay Buchholz and pushing the Sox to a 3-1 win in their home opener.
For the ninth straight season, the Sox came out victorious in their Fenway starter. This time they rode Buchholz, who went seven strong innings, striking out eight while giving up just three hits.
Despite giving up a loud ninth-inning home run to Adam Jones, Joel Hanrahan made his Fenway debut and picked up his third save.
Bottom of the seventh, Red Sox 3, Orioles 0: Again, John Farrell made the call to go with Daniel Nava, even though he was hit .185 against lefties a year ago.
So Nava’s three-run home run makes Farrell look two-parts smart and one-part lucky. It’s just Nava’s fourth home run in 112 career at-bats against lefties. It was the punch that knocked out Wei-Yin Chen, who was coming apart having given up a leadoff single to Dustin Pedroia Wall double to Mike Napoli.
Buchholz didn’t come out for the eight. Instead, Andrew Bailey will do some bridge work and try to hold things steady for Joel Hanrahan to come on in the ninth.
Of all the current Red Sox, Hanrahan is the only player that has never appeared at Fenway Park.
Top of the seventh, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: For the first time since his Sept. 15, 2012 start against Toronto when he threw 111 pitches, Clay Buchholz is over the century mark. He’s at 112 through seven strong. The seventh could have very well been his last with Koji Uehara up in the bullpen. But they were seven strong innings (8 strikeouts, three hits allowed, 18 first pitch strikes to 27 batters). Coincidentally, the last time he took a start past seven innings and won was Aug. 16 2012 against the Orioles.
Bottom of the sixth, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Buchholz and Chen are in a staredown at this point. Chen’s given up just two hits after a 1-2-3 sixth. He’s looking for his second win in three starts at Fenway.
Bottom of the fifth, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: John Farrell said gave Jackie Bradley Jr. a break because he’d seen a lot of pitching so far and because he liked the way Daniel Nava has been swinging the ball from the right side of the plate.
A year ago, Nava hit .185 in 81 at-bats against lefties. Today, he has a second-inning walk to his credit and is 1 for 1 after singling against Chen in the fifth.
Bottom of the fourth, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Shane Victorino’s single to left gave the Sox their first hit of the day. He’s got hits in six of the Sox first seven games (8 for 25) and he’s reached safely in all seven (.393 OBP). Dustin Pedrioa got on behind him with a five-pitch walk, but the inning died a batter later. Cause of death: a Mike Napoli double-play ball.
Bottom of the third, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: It had been a relatively quiet day in the field for Nate McLouth. But in one inning, David Jose Iglesias, and Jacoby Ellsbury just did wonders for his putout total with three fly balls to left.
Top of the third, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Despite Nick Markakis sneaking one through the shift, Clay Buchholz hung up another zero. He was particularly tough against Adam Jones, going away with his fastball and cutter on four of his first five pitches in the at-bat, even when Jones stared at the first two for balls. After coming in with a changeup, Buchholz went away again with a cutter that Jones barely stopped himself from swinging at. The pitch that ultimately locked Jones up was a curveball over the middle. Jones stared at it like a graded test paper, as if he knew the answer but still got it wrong.
Bottom of the second, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: For as much work as Jonny Gomes put into that at-bat, seeing it end in a popup to shallow right (the crowd at Fenway was waiting for a collision between Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis) was unfortunately anticlimactic. After working Wei-Yin Chen to 3-and-2, he fouled off four straight pitches. but got under the last one, a 90-mph fastball up and away, to bring an end to a nine-pitch at-bat and as well as the inning.
Top of the second, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Buchholz has let the lead runner reach both innings and he’s been taken to the track twice, but he’s managed to come away with no damage. Fanning JJ Hardy and Ryan Flaherty helped him get out of the second with no issues.
Top of the first, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0:After giving up a leadoff single to Nate McLouth, Clay Buchholz gets out of the inning, but not before Adam Jones took his 2-and-0 fastball to the warning track.
Pregame: Welcome to Fenway, where the weather gods blessed us the gift of a gorgeous day for the home opener.
The stars of the home-opening pregame ceremony will be everyone involved with the Jimmy Fund. The national anthem will be sung by the new Jimmy Fund Chorus of patients, families and medical personnel. After a flyover by two vintage P-51 Mustangs from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, several Jimmy Fund Patients will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Sox are looking for their ninth straight home-opening win, which would extend the longest active home-opening win streak in baseball. The last time the Orioles were up here for a Fenway opener was 2003, when they beat the Sox 13-6. On the flip side, all of Clay Buchholz’s three career shutouts have come against the Os and he’s 5-1 with a 2.67 ERA in nine starts since 2009.
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