It’s an old Chinese proverb, I’m sure you’ve heard it before:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Well, the Red Sox’s 2023 journey began with a pretty crappy step.
The pomp and circumstance of Opening Day at Fenway Park ushered in a 10-9 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, as the dream of a 162-0 season in Boston is dead on arrival. Kaput. Expired. Late. You name it. It’s tough to run the table when you cough up double-digit runs (and in general) but I digress.
I do have to admit: it was objectively funny to see my Twitter timeline’s collective wide-eyed and dreamy outlook of a magical 2023 almost instantly shatter off the bat of Adley Rutschman in the top of inning number one (1) in game number one (1). So much for hope springs eternal. It didn’t help matters that the NESN camera was waaaaayyyhayhayhayyyyy off early on, but what are you gonna do? It must still be Spring Training for their production crew.
Adley is going to be a problem. pic.twitter.com/ndi3641qVN— The Pesky Report (@PeskyReport) March 30, 2023
NESN camera work in center is like pic.twitter.com/ebpaGCLSt3— Pod On Lansdowne (@PodOnLansdowne) March 30, 2023
Hell of a day from Adley, though—he’s a star emerging before our very eyes. Baltimore’s got a good one behind the plate.
To get sentimental briefly before we take care of business: no matter how this game was going to go down, I’m just happy that the best sport in the world is back and that I get to talk about it with you fine folks. As a rule of thumb, a bad day of watching baseball usually beats a good day of doing anything else. And make no mistake: this was a bad day of watching baseball. Let’s just hope the other 161 days of doing so make up for it.
Some thoughts to open the new year:
- Pitcher Corey Kluber got the start on the bump for the Sox, making his debut with the club. Not the most inspiring start from the Wonder of Winchester, huh? The first inning homer caught far too much of the plate against Rutschman, then that was followed up with some instances of loud contact, including another two-run bomb in the top of the fourth—which, again, was not located well to begin with. The wheels fell off from there as the Red Sox fell victim to death by a thousand paper cuts. No bueno. Kluber did a good job in between the opening frame and the fourth in mixing up his sequencing...but that ain’t worth much, now is it? It was almost a fine start, but almost only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. Let’s hope he bounces back from an underwhelming opening statement.
- The question of who will primarily be atop Boston’s batting order could already have an answer. Alex Verudugo’s candidacy got off to a bang, as he lead off the botton half of the opening stanza with—OHHHHH BABY—a triple.
ALEX VERDUGO WITH THE LEADOFF TRIPLE! pic.twitter.com/qrgckF51ti— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) March 30, 2023
Verdugo had a nice knock in the ninth to boot as the Red Sox tried to make one last comeback push. The effort fell just short, sure, but it was a valiant effort from the offense nevertheless.
Who knows what to expect from number 99 this year (and if that will result in the front office handing him a big ol’ bag with his name on it), but his approach at the plate could be the tools of a handy table-setter for the 2023 lineup. We’ll see how Alex Cora shakes up the start of the lineup going forward.
- Look, I know these roster spots are guys’ jobs. It’s their livelihoods. There are real life consequences to baseball transactions that impact people beyond the field. I don’t want to actively root against anyone who plays for my favorite baseball team, I really dont...
...But the Ryan Brasier experience has to be on its last legs, no?
After posting a 5.78 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 62.1 IP last season, Brasier began his next act with a pair of walks (way too many walks from the entire pitching staff in general today, now that I mention it) to go alongside another two hits and three runs—all of which were earned—across just a single frame of work. Stink, stank, stunk.
The fact that the offense showed late signs of life makes Brasier’s implosion all the more frustrating. He’s a righty relief arm who has provided anything but relief as of late. He’s 35-years-old. I am not entirely sure what the connection and fascination with him is in the year 2023. I appreciate what Brasier did for the club during the 2018 title run, but those days are gone.
-Alex Verdugo, 2 for 5, 2 R, .187 WPA: See above, as he’s been covered already. Nice day from Dugie.
-Justin Turner, 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, .061 WPA: Pitched in a nice rib-eye at the end in his Red Sox debut; looked pretty comfortable at the dish. Encouraging!
-The 2023 calendar, has not turned over to April just yet: There’s plenty of baseball left. Patience, everyone.
-Corey Kluber, 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, -.242 WPA: See above, because I don’t wanna talk about it any further.
-Ryan Brasier, 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, -.120 WPA: See above, because I really don’t wanna talk about it any further.
-The 2023 calendar, is about to turn over into April without a Red Sox win logged: A professional baseball team going winless in an entire calendar month is pretty shameful if you ask me. The Red Sox need to grow up and not let it happen again.
Play of the Game
If we’re talking purely in comedic terms, it has to be Rutschman’s slide into second and his roundhouse kick to Christian Arroyo’s coconut. Arroyo was fine, which is great, but that was one of the strangest slides I’ve ever seen in my life.
Do the Orioles teach sliding? Like is it something they’ve ever talked about out loud? https://t.co/sD6Pm1pLQv— Honk The Bobo (@ColeyMick) March 30, 2023
this is what your body does when you die in GTA https://t.co/GoSRyaeXaS— fraser ramon (@SteveMerkle9) March 30, 2023
But if you want “concrete data” or “actual baseball analysis” based on “facts,” then Ramón Urías’ two-run shot for Baltimore in the top of the fourth is the play of the game. It provided a .184 WPA for the O’s, according to FanGraphs. The Red Sox were just playing catch-up from that point on.
Ramon Urias - Baltimore Orioles (1) pic.twitter.com/IHXdxWyykW— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 30, 2023
FINAL: Orioles 10, Red Sox 9