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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Red Sox open season with lost weekend in Texas

From: Boston Herald

All those predictions of greatness for the Boston Red Sox [team stats] this season sure look silly now.
Of course, it’s also pretty silly to read too much into a single series - especially the opening weekend of the season.

Still, a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday put the Red Sox in an 0-3 hole. The favorites to win the AL pennant were swept by the reigning league champions, and it was hardly ever close.
The Red Sox were outscored 26-11 in three games. They allowed 11 home runs, with each starting pitcher giving up at least a pair.

"I don’t think these guys missed a mistake in 27 innings," said starter Clay Buchholz, who epitomized the tough luck by giving up just five hits Sunday, four of them home runs. "It’s a tough one but we’ll learn something from it."

Boston fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1996, a season that began 0-5.

"We’re not very happy with the series, that’s an understatement," manager Terry Francona said. "But I think there’s a difference between being aggravated over a series as opposed to sitting around and panicking. It would have been a lot more fun going on the flight after a win and feeling good about yourself."

The team plane was headed to Cleveland. The Red Sox are off Monday, then have three games against the Indians. It could be a chance to get out some frustrations, or to find out whether they really are in trouble. They follow that series by heading home and playing the rival Yankees. They won’t get another crack at the Rangers until Aug. 22 at Fenway Park [map].


Texas got to Buchholz (0-1) with solo homers in the second, third, fifth and seventh innings. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz each had one, becoming the first set of teammates to homer in each of the first three games in a season.

The Rangers also were led by seven strong innings from Matt Harrison (1-0). He was outstanding the first six innings, then got into a jam in the seventh, walking two and giving up an RBI single to Carl Crawford. Harrison got out of it by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury [stats] with the bases loaded, preserving a 4-1 lead.
"He has good stuff," Francona said. "His fastball is ranging from 90-95 (mph) and the off speed made him good. He was pretty impressive. We had one shot and didn’t capitalize."

There were a few bright spots for Boston, starting with Crawford going 2 for 4.

Boston’s $142 million offseason addition was dropped from third in the lineup to seventh after starting the season 0 for 7 with four strikeouts. He got his first hit of the season in the second inning with a line drive that landed just inside the third-base line.

"You could tell he was feeling good about himself," Francona said.

David Ortiz went 2 for 4. In the ninth inning, he nearly joined the three-homer club but a shot to center field was caught on the warning track.

Jonathan Papelbon kept the game close by striking out the side with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Texas is 3-0 for the second time in three years.

Kinsler and Cruz came into the game as only the sixth set of teammates to homer in the first two games of a season. Kinsler also had become the first player to hit a leadoff homer in each of the first two games. Buchholz walked him in the first inning to avoid any chance of making it three straight, then Kinsler delighted in going deep in his second plate appearance.

Cruz’s homer was notable, too, as it was just the second by a right-handed batter to reach the upper deck in right field at Rangers Ballpark.

Harrison allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, tying his career high with eight strikeouts and walking two. He was dominant from the start, striking out two batters in the first inning and five his first time through the lineup. Adrian Gonzalez came into the game 5 for 9 without a strikeout, and fanned in his first two at-bats - swinging, then looking.

NOTES: Boston’s flop of a start in 1996 also began in Texas. ... Former Boston outfielder David Murphy got the Rangers’ scoring started with a solo homer in the second. He improved to 6 for 9 in his career against Buchholz. ... Last year, Buchholz was 8-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 13 starts following a Boston loss.

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