BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox said all the right things after their 9-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on the unofficial New England holiday known as Opening Day at Fenway Park.

It’s early. This team should be fine. The struggling pitchers will fix their ways.

Yada, yada and yada.

Despite consecutive last-place finishes, expectations were high for the Red Sox after they upgraded the pitching staff over the winter. A sellout crowd of 37,160 came to Fenway on Monday to see for themselves this new-and-improved product.

After all, the Red Sox spent $217 million to sign starting pitcher David Price to a seven-year contract.

They traded four promising minor leaguers for relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, who throws close to 100 mph. Boston also assumed the remaining two years and $24 million on his contract.


But after Monday’s game, you might be wondering if this team needs to spend even more.

A good starting pitcher tends to go at least seven innings. Price lasted five on Monday and gave up five runs in the process. It was a poor performance – one in which he still made about $1 million (roughly the average he earns, based on his $30 million salary this year).

“It comes down to execution and I didn’t do it,” Price said. “I didn’t throw the ball the way I’m capable of throwing it.”

Kimbrel said something similar. He gets paid to be the dominant pitcher at the end of the game. When the Red Sox needed Kimbrel to keep the game tied in the ninth inning, he walked two batters. With two outs, he threw a 97 mph fastball that Orioles slugger Chris Davis launched 450 feet into the center field bleachers. Davis’ three-run homer gave Baltimore a 9-6 lead.

“When you throw hard and hit the barrel (of the bat), it goes a long way,” Kimbrel said. “I went out there and beat myself.”

To be fair, no baseball player can expect perfection, no matter how much money they make. Both Price and Kimbrel seemed sincere in wanting to hurry back and prove themselves.


“Any time you fail, you want to get a chance to get out there and succeed,” Kimbrel said. “I’m going to get my chance (Tuesday) and hopefully I’ll do my job.”


Red Sox fans want to believe him, they really do. These are two good pitchers and they should bounce back. But the past two years have tarnished the fans’ hope.

Price presents himself as a confident man. He said it was fun pitching in the excitement of a Fenway opener. “It’s never fun losing a game, and (only) going five innings and giving up five runs,” he said, “but I enjoyed being out there, and that’s good.”

There is a knack to being able to play in the passionate/obsessive atmosphere of Boston. Some big names couldn’t do it. Outfielder Carl Crawford came from small-market Tampa Bay and melted under the scrutiny.

Price? He seems to embrace it.


Glad he’s having fun. Can he avoid moments like the third inning when he allowed all five runs, including a three-run homer?

“That’s been my Achilles’ heel, having that one bad inning,” Price said. “That’s all it takes in this game. A two-seam fastball leaked over the plate (and Mark Trumbo hit it for a home run).

“That’s what happens whenever you don’t execute.”

In his postgame comments, Price used the word execute or execution 10 times in four minutes.

Not to belabor the $217 million contract, but the Red Sox have a right to demand more execution. And talk of an “Achilles’ heel” is, well, a little concerning.

We’ve seen high-priced hopefuls do worse. Third-baseman Pablo Sandoval signed a five-year, $95-million contract before last season and is now sitting on the bench. Even when Boston had an obvious chance to use Sandoval as a pinch hitter on Monday, manager John Farrell had no confidence in him.


Wasted money. Dead weight on a Red Sox roster that needs new life.

Of course, it’s too early to made rash judgments on David Price and Craig Kimbrel.

But Monday afternoon didn’t make Red Sox fans feel especially hopeful.


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