The Red Sox will open Fenway Park’s 101st year and their 102nd season this afternoon when Clay Buchholz takes to the hill against the Baltimore Orioles. There are smiles from the Fenway Faithful as the Sox have taken both series from the Yankees and highly touted Toronto Blue Jays. They come home in first place with a 4-2 record well ahead of last years horrid pace.
Me thinks the Blue Jays will spend 2013 learning the Red Sox lesson of last year which is simply, a team filled with all-stars does not a team make! But that’s for another day.
The torch has been passed to a new generation of Red Sox. Born in this winter, tempered by the battles of seasons played, disciplined by the fight through the minors and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of the past decade of Red Sox success!
Will Middlebrooks, freshly off his three homer game yesterday, leads this new crew in sporting the number 16 on his back. A number indicative that he is here to stay. Gone is his number 64 and he joins illustrious company as he dons 16, the same number worn by the Red Sox first ever Cy Young Award winner, Jim Lonborg in 1967.
Middlebrooks became the 26th Red Sox player to hit three homers in a game in yesterday’s 13-0 romp over the Blue Jays. He felt just a few feet short of hitting number four when he flied deep to left in his last at bat.
There is a lot to like about this team! They are battlers, dirt eaters, hard-nosed and seem to be old-fashioned baseball players. There are kids who are here who can flat-out play and they are exciting and fun to watch.
Jose Iglesias is a defensive wizard at short who appears to have overcome his “can’t hit” knock as he comes in to Fenway’s home opener having gone 2-5 yesterday and watching his average DROP to .529. Yikes!
Jackie Bradley Jr. has generated enormous excitement with his glove in left and his wheels.
These kids coupled with the likes of Dustin Pedroia who is, well, Dustin Pedroia, a healthy and rejuvenated Jacoby Ellsbury, the additions of players like Victorino, Gomes, Napoli and back up catcher David Ross seem to have created a chemistry mix not seen at Fenway since 2008!
Add to the mix the return of John Farrell and the departure of Mr. Sweetheart oops Valentine and there is reason for excitement!
Lester is 2-0 this year and Blue Jay announcer and former catcher Buck Martinez noted during yesterday ‘s broadcast, his “swing and miss stuff is back….he hasn’t had it the past couple of years but it’s back today.”
Two starts does not a season make, however the Jon Lester I watched yesterday was the Jon Lester I watched three years ago! He dominated the lineup which many have said will rule the AL East this year! Buchholz shows signs that he may be back and early indications are that the bullpen has lights out potential .
There are 156 games to go and a lot can happen. I’m not one for making predictions about who will make the playoffs, win pennants and World Series for my answer is always the same, because it always is the same. The team(s) which get the best pitching in August and September will win! It’s really a simple game which begins and ends with those guys in the middle of the diamond!
But I will say this, the 2013 Red Sox will compete, something they have not really done much of the past couple of years!
Let’s Have At It!!!!!