Brewers 6, Red Sox 2: Bullpen Meltdown Dooms Sox

Jared Wickerham

A horrific ninth inning by Edward Mujica and Andrew Miller cost the Sox's chance of a win in their home opener at Fenway.

Accompanied by a panoply of brass, the Red Sox unveiled their 2013 World Series championship banner to a packed Fenway Park Friday afternoon, followed by the presentation of the championship rings to the coaching staff and players. And any Opening Day ceremony which gives us a chance to see Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, and Tim Wakefield is automatically a very, very good day.

The weather in April at Fenway Park is always a bit of a lottery—and today, it came up cold, cloudy, and windy, with a breeze blowing anything hit to center and right dead on the warning track. It made for a number of dying quails for well-hit balls, including those by Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Nava.

However, the weather favors neither team, and the Brewers were also susceptible to the stiff winds—when they weren't getting struck out by Jake Peavy, that is. Aside from a bizarre triple by Jean Segura that seemed to owe as much to poor positioning by Mike Carp as solid hitting by Segura—Peavy opened the game with three strikeouts (he had four on the day). In the second inning, however, Peavy would not fare nearly as well, as two runs scored in the second inning on a home run by Jonathan Lucroy and a Carlos Gomez single.

The Sox offense would begin to chip away at the lead, courtesy of some Astros-quality defense by the Brewers, as a failed attempt to gun down Mike Napoli at third following a Grady Sizemore single ended up with Napoli coming around to score and Sizemore at second, and then advancing to third on a failed Aramis Ramirez tag attempt. Bogaerts could have tied the score with a hit or a deep fly ball—unfortunately his ball ended up in shallow right, easily close enough to nab Sizemore at the plate.

The tying run, however, would come courtesy of Will Middlebrooks, who launched a ball on top of the Monster for his first home run of the year. And Napoli would do major, major damage to Marco Estrada's pitch count, having two separate 10-pitch at bats, including the walk that would end Estrada's day with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Will Smith would successfully strand Napoli, but at third, after a wild pitch and a passed ball, by striking out pinch hitter Jonny Gomes.

Unfortunately, after that, the game would become a messy miasma of missed opportunities for the Sox, with batters aplenty left in scoring position. (The anguished cries of our OTMers in the game thread was nigh palpable.)

Peavy shut down the Brewers for the remainder of his six innings of work, allowing only the two runs, and Burke Badenhop did well in his two innings of work, with only two hits and no runs.

But the real damage came in the ninth, when the wheels came off, with Edward Mujica's Fenway debut being about as bad as you could possibly imagine, with a questionable call about a pickoff at third base leading to outright disaster, as three runs would score courtesy of Lyle Overbay and Carlos Gomez, who was 4-for-5, before a single out would be recorded, leaving the score at 5-2. Overbay was particularly pesky on both sides of the plate, with strong defense that robbed the Sox of several would-be hits and delivering the killing blow in the ninth. Yet another run would score on a Ramirez line drive before Farrell way, way too late pulled the plug on Mujica's afternoon. Andrew Miller would fare little better, walking the first two batters he faced before getting Khris Davis to strike out. Francisco Rodriguez managed a 1-2-3 ninth to take the first game of the series.

Game two is Saturday night, with Clay Buchholz making his debut this season.

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