NEW YORK –A case can be made that no member of the Red Sox roster will have more to say about whether the team is an AL East contender or also-ran than Jon Lester. The gap between what he was from 2008-11 — one of the top starters in the majors — and his performance in 2012 — when he was a durable starter who performed at a below league-average level, more along the lines of a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, is colossal.
And so it was that the first note of the Red Sox’ 2013 season was a considerably impressive one. Lester proved mostly sharp against a depleted Yankees lineup, leaning mostly on a 92-94 mph fastball and a nasty cutter that stayed on the hands of hitters while working five innings in which he permitted two runs on five hits and two walks. Lester struck out seven, more than he punched out in 25 of his 33 starts a year ago.
His pitch count (96, 63 strikes) represented something of an issue, as he proved unable to work deep into the game. Still, Lester avoided the sort of potholes that sometimes ruined otherwise-promising outings last year. For the Sox, who hadn’t won on Opening Day since 2010, the left-hander’s performance — and the team’s 8-2 win — represented a positive first step for a team sorely in need of just that.
Some other takeaways from Opening Day:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– In their decision to stash Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth spot in the lineup for his major league debut, there was a message from the Red Sox. As promising as his spring was, and as good a hitter as the Sox think that the 22-year-old can become, the team’s decision to insert him in left field for Opening Day was driven chiefly because of the fact that he combines an advanced, disciplined plate approach with tremendous outfield defense and strong base running.
Bradley displayed both against the Yankees. In his first career plate appearance, with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the second inning, he quickly fell behind CC Sabathia, 0-2, but then took a pair of sliders (one just off the plate), fouled off a fastball, then took a slider and fastball for a walk. Then, when Jose Iglesias bounced a chopper to shortstop, Bradley’s good break from first permitted him to slide safely into second on a fielder’s choice attempt — a play that proved huge given that the Sox scored three two-out runs in the inning.
Then, with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the third inning, Bradley got a great jump on a Robinson Cano fly ball to deep left field, ran a clean route to the ball and turned around in time to make the catch while backpedaling just shy of the warning track — a play that ended the inning and saved at least one run.
Bradley would later strike out and walk against Sabathia, seeing 15 pitches in three plate appearances despite not putting a ball in play. When he finally did make contact, it was with runners on the corners and one out in the top of the seventh. Against left-handed reliever Boone Logan, he worked the count to 3-1 then hit a hard grounder back up the middle that Logan couldn’t field cleanly; the ball glanced off his glove for an RBI groundout. Finally, in his fifth plate appearance of the game, Bradley accepted a walk from Joba Chamberlain, thus becoming the first big leaguer to walk three times in his major league debut since Danny Ardoin of the Twins did it in 2000.
So, Bradley went 0-for-2 with three walks, an RBI and 26 pitches seen. The ability to impact multiple dimensions of the game without collecting a hit underscored what the Sox hoped Bradley might be able to do if he remained on the roster.
– The Red Sox bullpen was dominant. Even though Lester was knocked out after just five innings, the team had waves of arms to send at the Yankees, with Koji Uehara (1IP), Andrew Bailey (2/3 IP), Andrew Bailey (1/3 IP), Junichi Tazawa (1 IP) and Joel Hanrahan delivering four shutout innings in which they permitted just one hit and two walks while striking out three. Miller hit 98 mph with a pair of punchouts, Bailey struck out Kevin Youkilis with a 95 mph heater up in the zone and Hanrahan showed 97 mph with life to close out the contest.
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a strong day at the plate, notable because he starter against the left-handed Sabathia. He went 1-for-2 with a double and a pair of walks (including 1-for-2 with one of those walks against Sabathia). That performance continued a spring in which the catcher performed well against southpaws (.333 average, .375 OBP), something that he rarely had the opportunity to do in 2012.
– Jose Iglesias didn’t exactly destroy the baseball, but he chopped an infield single with the bases loaded, pushed a bunt to the right side for a single and later had a swinging bunt to third for another hit. (He’d worked quite a bit on bunting during spring training.) The three-hit game was the second of the young shortstop’s career, with the previous one coming against the Rays last Sept. 20 representing his only prior contest with multiple base hits in 35 big league appearances.
– Overall, the lineup did an excellent job of making Yankees pitchers — particularly Sabathia — work. The Sox knocked the big left-hander out after just five innings in which he required 102 pitches.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Mike Napoli had a tough Red Sox debut, going 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.
– Will Middlebrooks went 0-for-4 with a walk, but deserves some bonus points for being on the field despite a 102-degree fever while fighting the flu.
– The Sox missed out on several chances to blow the game open early, leaving 13 runners on base. Most heinously, they failed to score a run in the sixth inning after Jacoby Ellsbury led off the frame with a triple. Still, they finally put the game out of reach by plating three runs in the ninth against reliever Joba Chamberlain.
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.
Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy
Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.
Joe Castiglione & Tim Neverett talked to the new Sox reliever, who got his first save for the team today against the Twins.
Christian recaps the Sox 2-1 loss to the Twins. Eduardo Rodriguez had a good showing tonight but couldn't get the run support needed to secure a W. Thoughts on all of that as well as your calls on Red Sox Review.
Red Sox Starting Pitcher Steven Wright joins Glenn, John Tomase, and Tom Caron to discuss pitching the knuckler in adverse conditions, his journey through MLB, and his All-Star experience.
Joey Mac joins Ken Laird on his Saturday show to discuss the David Backes addition and Loui Eriksson departure in NHL free agency
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Respected journalist Jackie MacMullan is forced to spend ten minutes listening to previous show renditions of Gary Tanguay's erotic writings, including from his novel 'Love in a Day.'
Dino, Gary Tanguay and Jackie MacMullan discuss the state of the presidential race, including whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton have driven any voters from one side of the political spectrum to the other.
ESPN's Jackie MacMullan are in studio to discuss the state of the Celtics, including Gerald Green's signing over the weekend and a glut of players on the roster.
Glenn and Tom Caron talk about Michael Jordan's letter where he calls for a halt to gun violence. They also talk about MJ's timing in using this platform; something he'd not done in the past.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz was booed by her Constituency at a breakfast to kick off the DNC, and Glenn and Tom Caron discuss what that means for the Convention.
Glenn and Tom Caron talk about the Aroldis Chapman trade; looking at what the Cubs gave up, the price for Relievers might be too steep for the Sox to consider.
Dale and Holley close out the show with the day's best sound.
The guys welcome back Michael from vacation and give him crap for his outfit.
We look back at some of the classic temper tantrums of athletes and coaches.
Kirk Minihane is joined by Boston comedy legend Lenny Clarke. If you are a fan of stand up comedy this is the podcast for you. Kirk and Lenny talk about Carlin, Pryor, Williams, Murphy and many more.
Kirk Minihane is joined by former ESPN ombudsman and New York Times writer Robert Lipsyte. Kirk and Robert discuss the current state of ESPN and how Robert feels he did in his role as ombudsman. They both criticize ESPN for the lack of journalism at ESPN and look at some of the curious decisions the world wide leader has made in the past few years.
Kirk Minihane is joined by Lenny Dykstra to talk about his book, his life pleasing older women, and Lenny tries to avoid his past issues with money. This is one explosive episode.
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill talk about what you need to do to be in the best shape to help your golf game. What exercises you should and shouldn't be doing so you can impress on the course.
Uncle Buck breaks down the WWE Draft and the new rosters for Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live.
This week we look back at the Open Championship.
After a few callers argue with Kirk and Gerry about racial profiling in America, the guys get to WEEI's Michael Holley disagreeing with Callahan on the inclusion of Michael Brown into recent examples of tragic deaths of blacks in America.More from this show
Glenn, Lou, and Christian examine the latest Pitcher rumored to be on the Sox' radar.More from this show
Dale, Michael and Jerry talk about the end of it all... Tom Brady will not seek a higher appeal of the US District Court's decision.More from this show
Gerry, Mut and Kirk dig back into the Melania Trump speech on night one of the RNC and discuss how the Trump team will and should handle things going forward.More from this show
ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith joins to the show to defend his comments that Tom Brady shouldn’t be fighting to the Supreme Court. Glenn, Lou, and Christian demand Stephen explain his reasoning behind calling Brady, “uppity.”More from this show