Toronto fans came in floods as cheers and boos showered down from all around the stadium in what might be the biggest crowd I have ever seen in the Rogers Centre. Whenever the Red Sox got a run, the Blue Jays responded quickly, all until the Red Sox took the lead for good in the top of the eighth inning. In light of four combined home runs from both teams, here are the four bases from tonight’s game.
First Base: The Blue Jays gave John Farrell what he expected, a shower of boos throughout the game. According to NESN’s Jenny Dell, the booing started right when Farrell exchanged lineups, which he responded to by tipping his cap. The fans booed when Farrell came out to check on José Iglesias after the shortstop got hit in the right elbow with a pitch in the second innning. The fans even booed when Juan Nieves came to the mound in the Don Orsilo noted on the NESN broadcast that the Canadian angst is not from Farrell leaving Toronto, but from his comments that the Red Sox position was his “dream job.”
Second Base: There may have been stranger games in the past, but this one definitely went down the pipes a little funny. It seemed like there was a lot of offense, as both teams combined for 24 hits. That being said, there were only 10 combined runs, and half of them came off of home runs. The lack of runs is largely due to the lack of success with runners in scoring position; The Red Sox went 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position, but the Blue Jays went 0-for-10. The night kind of culminated in José Reyes‘s stat line – the Blue Jays shortstop went 4-5 with three extra base hits, but he only scored when he hit a solo home run in the fifth inning.
Third Base: Farrell has shown a quick hook on starting pitchers so far this year. Only one starter, Clay Buchholz, pitched past the fifth inning (Buccholz pitched into the seventh), and only one, Ryan Dempster, threw over 100 pitches (Dempster threw 101). It is early in the season, so it might be a universal pitch count limit for all of the Sox hurlers. It will be interesting to see when the training wheels will come off, if at all, considering the bullpen arms at Farrell’s disposal. Felix Doubront was limited to just 90 pitching in his 5 innings of work tonight.
Home Plate: Team defense is one of the more forgotten aspects to baseball, but it is something that the Red Sox have executed remarkably well. Even though it is only four games into the season, the fact that the Red Sox have not committed an error is rather impressive, especially with the Blue Jays committing six errors (three tonight) in four games. Will Middlebrooks received some flack for a play at third base in the first inning that allowed Melky Cabrera to reach on a fielder’s choice, but that seemed to be the only glaring defensive blunder in four games. The rangy midfield and athletic outfield have helped Red Sox pitchers allow only seven runs so far this season.
Beyond the Diamond… Iglesias got hit in the elbow in the second inning on a pitch inside, and Pedro Ciriaco pinch-hit for the 23-year-old in the fourth. Reports are that José Iglesias has a right elbow contusion… With opening day at Fenway Park is just beyond the weekend, and the Red Sox announced today that Dick Flavin, Henry Mahegan, and Bob Lobel will be the new PA voices for Red Sox games. Flavin will be doing the home opener and day games, Mahegan will be doing night games, and Bob Lobel will be doing Saturday games… Stephen Drew played seven innings at AA Portland tonight, and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double before he departed. David Ortiz, according to the Boston Herald‘s Scott Lauber, is still scheduled to play extended spring training games on Monday.
(Napoli Photo Courtesy of Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)