Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Associated Press
BOSTON — A second brilliant start by Clay Buchholz. A clutch homer by Daniel Nava. Another flawless fielding performance by the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox's Daniel Nava, right, is greeted by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli (12) after hitting a three-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park in Boston, Monday, April 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) delivers to the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Monday, April 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The fans at Fenway Park saw for the first time what all the excitement is about when they watched the surprising Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 in Boston's home opener on Monday.
"This team is growing in confidence by the day," first-year Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Buchholz (2-0) allowed three hits in seven shutout innings, Nava hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Wei-Yin Chen (0-1) and the first-place Red Sox improved to 5-2 for their best start in seven years.
Last year, they lost five of their first seven games and finished last at 69-93, and in 2011 they started 1-6 and missed the playoffs with a September collapse.
So winning Monday after taking two of three road games against both the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays "is a lot better than starting 2-9, or whatever it was last year and the year before. We've got an awesome group of guys," Buchholz said. "It's easier to come to the ballpark and be in high spirits, in good spirits about it whenever your team is winning."
The Red Sox won their ninth straight home opener a day after Jon Lester pitched seven innings in a 13-0 win in Toronto. Boston pitchers had 18 consecutive scoreless innings before Adam Jones hit his first homer of the year with one out in the ninth off Joel Hanrahan, who finished for the save.
Boston's new closer is perfect in three save tries this season.
The Red Sox haven't committed an error in any of their seven games, their longest season-opening errorless streak.
Nava broke open a scoreless duel with his second homer in two days. He hit a shot over the Green Monster in left after Dustin Pedroia singled and took third on a double by Mike Napoli.
"It was special just because it was opening day," Nava said. "I wasn't trying to hit a home run. It just worked out like that but to contribute and get us a lead in a tight game after Buck pitched well is something that I think anyone who stepped in the box in (that) situation was looking to do."
Buchholz gave up three walks and struck out eight. Last Wednesday he allowed one run in seven innings in a 7-4 win over the New York Yankees.
"He had very good stuff," said Farrell, who took over after Bobby Valentine was fired following one season as Boston's manager. "You can't say enough (about) what Clay did for us. The way Chen was pitching, a classic pitchers' duel, and one swing of the bat becomes the difference."
Andrew Bailey blanked the Orioles in the eighth before Hanrahan, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason, made his Fenway debut.
"We might spend all day tomorrow crying as a team, holding each other's hands, spend all day walking through the Prudential Center (in Boston) crying," outfielder Adam Jones said sarcastically after Baltimore fell to 3-4. "We're playing good baseball. We've got 155 games to go; a lot of games to go."
Buchholz allowed the first batter to reach base in four innings but only one runner advanced to second.
"I actually felt better pitching out of the stretch," Buchholz said. "I felt like the tempo was better."
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