BOSTON – There were plenty of questions about the Red Sox offense heading into the season. How would it score runs without a big bopper like Jason Bay? Who would provide the big bat in the heart of the order that would keep the pulse of this team going all summer?

The answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t be just one hitter. If this offense is to succeed, it will do so by grinding down opposing pitchers.

Boston’s lineup might not feature the home run hitters we’ve gotten used to at Fenway Park, but it’s got a number of players who know how to get on base. They work the count, they chip away at you until they finally succeed.

It happened Sunday night. In a stunning 9-7 season-opening win against the New York Yankees, the Sox had very little going early on against ace CC Sabathia — one hit through 42/3 innings, to be exact. But Sabathia’s pitch count was on the rise, and the bottom third of the order finally broke through.

After Adrian Beltre’s strikeout in the fifth, seven of the next nine Sox hitters reached base, a streak punctuated by Kevin Youkilis’ two-run triple.

the time Beltre got back up in the sixth, Sabathia was gone and Beltre welcomed reliever David Robertson with an RBI single that tied the game.

Four singles, a walk and two extra-base hits. That’s what it took for Boston to hang four more runs on the board, tie the game and chase one of the best pitchers in baseball.

It’s also what it took to help Red Sox fans believe there just might be enough offense on this team after all. So much for that “good glove, no stick” scouting report slapped on this team.

“I knew that was going to be the first question,” said Manager Terry Francona early Monday morning.

“That was a tough game to win. I thought we were very resilient (Sunday night). We get down, then we tie it up and we get back down quick. We did some very good things offensively. We kept at them and put some pressure on them.”

Of course, a 12-hit opening night doesn’t mean the Sox are going to morph into the 1927 Yankees. But it’s a lot better than going down without a fight.

Down 5-1 by the middle innings, it felt like we’d be spending the next 48 hours complaining about the lineup. Where were the heavy hitters we’ve grown accustomed to at the Fens?

They were in the two hole and the cleanup spot. Dustin Pedroia hit an opening-day home run for the second straight season. Youkilis had three extra-base hits and three RBI.

“We’re going to fight,” said Pedroia. “You look 1 through 9, we’re going to put good at-bats together. Everyone’s going to go up there and grind out at-bats. If we do that consistently, we’re going to be a really good offensive team.

“That’s why everyone (on the team) was kind of shocked when they doubted our offense. I know we don’t have the guy hitting 40, 50 home runs. Not a lot of teams do. We’ll try to find ways to score runs other ways.”

This from a guy who woke up Monday morning on pace to hit 162 home runs this season.

We know that pace will change and there will be nights the Sox will struggle to score runs, just like every other team.

Sunday night just served as a reminder it won’t be a struggle at the plate every night. Even against the defending world champions.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.