Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Big bats back up John Lackey, Red Sox earn first win

Rob Carr

The heart of Boston's order was ridiculously productive, and the Orioles could not keep up, bringing the Red Sox their first victory in their second game of the year.

The Red Sox have their first win of the new season thanks to big time production from the heart of the order as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli combined to put together six runs of support behind a strong John Lackey.

After an Opening Day filled with wasted chances, the first couple of innings promised more of the same from the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz reached base with one out to give Boston an early chance to score, but Ubaldo Jimenez fought back to get a quick pop-up from Mike Napoli before striking out Jonny Gomes, who stood frozen at the plate for all three pitches. With a one-out single from Xander Bogaerts leading to no better results, the left on base number continued to rise.

John Lackey, however, is nothing if not used to that sort of treatment from his offense after 2013. If there was any concern that the veteran righty would not be the same man Red Sox fans saw that year, Wednesday's performance should go a long way towards quelling them. Sitting up over 90 MPH, Lackey was throwing with purpose, pummeling the strike zone with offerings that were dipping towards the outside corner time and again. Aside from a bloop single to start the game, the Orioles could do nothing to slow him down in the first three innings.

While the Red Sox' first hit with a runner in scoring position would have to wait for later, they were the first to get on the board in the third inning thanks to David Ortiz. With Dustin Pedroia once again on base with his second base hit of the night (having produced a candidate for Play of the Year with a diving stop to end the second), Jimenez tried to get inside on Ortiz with a fastball. What happens when you try to get inside on Ortiz and miss? The ball leaves the park. Ortiz demolished the pitch, sending it well over the wall in right field to give Boston a 2-0 lead.

Though Lackey was very good for most of the night, he did run into a brief rough patch in the fourth inning, and it would cost the Sox that lead. After two quick outs from David Lough and Adam Jones, Chris Davis drew a four-pitch walk, bringing Nelson Cruz to the plate. Baltimore's newest slugger had cost the Red Sox the game on Opening Day, and even behind 0-2 in the count, he seemed ready to do the same thing in Game 2, taking a fastball up-and-away and leaving Daniel Nava with nothing to do but watch it clear the scoreboard to even the game at 2-2.

The response was almost instant. Ubaldo Jimenez caught Daniel Nava with a pitch to start the fifth, and then with two outs Mike Napoli provided one of his patented mile-high homers to center field. The kind that don't seem to leave the bat on a home run trajectory but just keep going and going and going until there's no room left. 2-2 became 4-2.

That would have been enough for the win, it turns out, but the President's new beard advisor wasn't done just yet. With Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia on second and third in the seventh, the Orioles elected to walk David Ortiz to face Mike Napoli. It's a defensible move to make given that there was one out, Napoli is both a strikeout and double play candidate, and David Ortiz is David Ortiz. But for all that Napoli can be prone to some bad outs, he's also prone to picking up big hits. It was damned-if-you do, damned-if-you don't, and Mike Napoli did his part by ripping a two-run line drive into left field, making Boston's lead 6-2.

John Lackey would exit the game with just six innings to his name, but with 90 pitches and six strikeouts to a walk and three hits, he probably could have found his way back out there for a seventh if the situation had really called for it. Boston's bullpen, however, needed a workout, and Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara got the job done, scattering a few baserunners through the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, closing out Boston's first win of the season.

Big nights from Dustin Pedroia (4-5), David Ortiz (1-3, HR, 2 BB), Mike Napoli (2-5, HR), Xander Bogaerts (1-2, 2 BB), and John Lackey make for a pretty perfect Game 2 from the Red Sox. They'll try to make it a series win Thursday night.

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