(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)RED SOX- I'm not gonna lie to you- I freakin' LOVE this time of the year, especially since I was denied the overlap of MLB and NHL last October.
With Spring Training over and done with, it was time for the Boston Red Sox to start playing some games that actually counted on Monday. The Red Sox would start off their regular season in the Bronx against the archrival New York Yankees. With Curtis Granderson, Mark Texiera, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter all on the DL, this would be a dramatically different opening day lineup the Yankees were fielding from a season ago and the first time the Red Sox would face the Yankees without Jeter in the lineup since 2001.
Between the free agents that Boston signed in the offseason and in-house prospects that stood out in Spring Taining, there were plenty of new faces in the Red Sox lineup on opening day was well. But a familiar face was on the bump for the BoSox as Jon Lester took on New York starter CC Sabathia for the opening day pitching matchup.
The Sox got to Sabathia pretty early, starting with a 1-out walk to Jarros Saltalamacchia in the top of the 2nd. Johnny Gomes then reached on what was ruled a single that was deflected off the glove of 3B Jayson Nix before Spring Training standout OF Jackie Bradley Jr drew a walk from Sabathia to load the bases. SS Jose Iglesias, who drew all kinds of attention in Fort Myers during 2012 Spring training, drove in the first run of the season for Boston with a single to shortstop that plated Saltalamacchia to make it 1-0 Boston. Ellsbury grounded into a forceout, erasing Gomes at home and bringing up OF Shane Victorino with two away. On a 1-1 pitch, the Flyin' Hawaiian singled to left field, plating Bradley and Iglesias to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Then 2B Dustin Pedroia singled to right field, bringing home Ellsbury to make it 4-0 Boston.
The Yankees would cut into the Red Sox lead in the bottom of the 4th inning when Yankees C Francisco Cervelli belted a bases loaded 2-out 2-RBI single to left before Lester retired Brett Gardner to get out of the inning.
While David Phelps replaced Sabathia for the Bronx Bombers in the top of the 6th, Koji Uehara came on in relief of Lester in the bottom of the 6th and retired all three batters he faced. In the top of the 7th, Phelps walked 3B Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to start off the inning. With one away and Middlebrooks advancing to third, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled Phelps for Boone Logan. Bradley would then hit a ball that ricocheted off of Logan to Yankees 2B Robinson Cano for an RBI groundout that plated Middlebrooks to make it 5-2 Boston.
Things got a little tense in the bottom of the 7th when Andrew Miller came in for Uehara and immediately gave up walks to the first two batters he faced, but he came back to get Andrew Nunez to strike out looking and Robinson Cano to strike out swinging before Andrew Bailey came on to relieve Miller. Miller would then get former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis- the only batter he'd face- to strike out swinging.
After the Sox were retired in order in the top of the 8th, Junichi Tazawa would come on in relief of Miller and although he would allow a 1-out single off the bat of Travis Hafner, the inning would end when OF Ichiro Suzuki would ground into a double-play.
Boston would blow the game wide open in the top of the 9th inning when Joba Chamberlain came on. After Middlebrooks struck out to start the inning, he allowed a walk to Saltalamacchia, a single off the bat of Gomes and another walk to Bradley to load up the bases for the Sox. Ellsbury would then hit a ground ball to first that was bobbled by Cano (who had shifted towards first base) bringing home Saltalamacchia and- thanks to some agressive baseruinning- Gomes. Victorino woul single and bring home Bradley to make it 8-2 Boston before Perdroia grounded out to end the inning.
Joel Hanrahan would come on in the bottom of the 9th and have a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Red Sox the 8-2 win on opening day, their first opening day win since 2010. Although Lester only went 5 innings, he allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out seven batters and walking two. Shane Victorino went 2 for 6 with 3 RBI while Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 6 with two RBI and Jackie Bradley Jr went to Applebee's in Times Square with his family after reaching base on three walks as well as adding to the Red Sox lead with an RBI groundout
Tuesday is an off day, but the series will resume on Wednesday with Clay Buchholz getting the start against New York's Hideki Kuroda. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB- After the Houston Astros made their AL West debut to open up the 2013 season on Easter Sunday with an 8-2 win against the Texas Rangers at home, Rangers starter Yu Darvish came within one out of pitching a perfect game against the Astros on Tuesday night.
With two away in the bottom of the 9th, Darvish allowed had a single off the bat of Astros SS Marwin Gonzalez through his legs to center field. After allowing the single, Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled Darvish for reliever Michael Kirkman who allowed a single to 2B Jose Altuve before pinch hitter JD Martinez struck out to end the ballgame.
Darvish had a career high 14 strikeouts in 111 pitches at Minute Maid park Tuesday- the most by a Rangers starter since Nolan Ryan in July 1991.
NHL- After missing out on the Iginla sweepstakes (despite persistent rumors to the contrary) the Boston Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas stars in a trade the day before the NHL's trade deadline. The Bruins will be Jagr's third team in two seasons, including Philadelphia last year.
The 41 year old winger has led Dallas in scoring during the lockout-shortened season with 14 goals and 12 assists in and is expected to join the team in time for Thursday night's tilt against the New Jersey Devils. The Czechoslovavian-born player first came into the NHL during the 1990-91 season with Pittsburgh.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
OTHER BRUINS NEWS- After last week's collapse against the Canadiens, the Bruins split a weekend 2 game road trip where they lost to the Flyers on Saturday but on Sunday night, Anton Khudobin turned aside all 26 shots he faced in Boston's 2-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres.
On Tuesday night, Khudobin was between the pipes once again when the Bruins returned to TD Garden for another Northeastern conference matchup, this time against the Ottawa Senators.
The Sens got on the board early in the first with a tally from Colin Greening before David Krejci got the equalizer less than a minute later and Tyler Seguin put Boston up 2-1. The second period, while scoreless, wasn't uneventful as Patrice Bergeron left the game after a collision with Greening. The Bruins had no comment on Bergeron's condition- the center suffered two concussions earlier in his career with the Bruins.
Early in the 3rd period, the Sens got a game-tying goal thanks to Andre Benoit to even things up at 2-2 before Boston re-took the lead midway through the third thanks to a Nathan Horton tally. With 34 seconds left in regulation, the Bruins no doubt had a feeling of deja vu from last week's letdown against the Habs when Johnny Boychuck was called for interference after the Sens pulled Lehner, giving them a 6 on 4 advantage for the remainder of regulation. However, Khudobin and the B's were able to withstand the late flurry of offense and the Bruins held on to win by a 3-2 final. The win puts Boston within a point of Montreal for 1st place in the Northeast division.
Khudobin faced a career high 47 shots on goal, stopping 45 while Lehner turned aside 47 of 50 shots faced on Tuesday night. Both teams went 0-3 on the power play as well.
The Bruins will next take on the New Jersey Devils at the Garden on Thursday night. Puck drops at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised on the NHL Network.