Red Sox

For Hanley Ramirez, Clay Buchholz and Rest of the Red Sox, It Was a Near-Perfect Way to Start

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COMMENTARY

Say, has anyone made a Dustin Pedroia-is-on-pace-for-324-homers wisecrack yet?

Who? Just every single joker with an active Twitter account who is aware that Monday was Opening Day, you say?

OK then. How about this: Has anyone — anyone at all — noted that Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez are on pace for a combined 648 homers this season, which might be a record of some sort?

Who did? Merely every single joker with an active Twitter account who is aware that Monday was Opening Day plus a few strays at MySpace and some random dude on Pinterest?

Rats. Thought I was on to a good one there.

Wait, wait: How about this for a quip: The Red Sox did a great job driving down the price on Cole Hamels!

Or: I hope Ben Cherington texted “That’s why, Roob” to Ruben Amaro Jr. after Mookie Betts took Hamels deep!

Or even: Been saying all along, who needs an ace when you’ve got Clay Buchholz?

Been done, and done, and done again.

All right, so perhaps there’s not a lot original left to say a day after the Red Sox opened the 2015 season with a worth-the-winter’s-wait 8-0 victory over the Phillies Monday.

But it’s certainly worth revisiting — and enjoying again, with a few hours’ retrospect — on the off day between the season’s first and second ballgames.

You’ve got to savor one that goes according to plan, and this one certainly followed a script any Red Sox fan could appreciate.

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Buchholz, the subject of much debate and little collective confidence regarding his ability to front a starting rotation, delivered seven shutout innings. Better still, he did so while matched up against Hamels, an accomplished lefthander whom the Red Sox are said to want but not at Philadelphia’s steep and unreasonable price.

That price has long begun with Betts, a star in the making whose home run in his second at-bat was a reminder of why he’s staying right there atop the Boston lineup for, oh, the next half-dozen or so seasons.

Speaking of that lineup … well, file this one under Fun With Small Sample Sizes too, but the Red Sox are on a 1,296-run pace. They’re obviously not going to average eight runs per game over the season’s course.

But presuming Pedroia, Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli remain reasonably healthy and Betts and Xander Bogaerts develop at a normal rate, there’s no reason they can’t approach their massive run-scoring totals of, say, 2013 (853), 2007 (867) or, hell, maybe even 2004 (949).

Other than perhaps wishing for a knock or two for Pablo Sandoval (0 for 5) in his Red Sox debut and wondering why John Farrell used dependable Junichi Tazawa in a blowout, there was not even a minor lament to be found in Game 1.

It was a winning day all around, culminating with the signing of Rick Porcello to a four-year, $82.5 million deal, a small risk wholly justifiable on the premise of paying for his prime rather than past performance.

The Red Sox have some crooked numbers on their baseball reference page now, a simple and pleasant confirmation that the new season is at last in effect.

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It could not have begun any better. So here’s to game two. Pretty cool that it really does have a lot to live up to.

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