My favorite moments from yesterday's game, in [batting] order:
1.) Ellsbury, CF: Not a great place to start, as Pink-Hatted Nation's favorite poster boy was the only Sox starter to go hitless. Nevertheless, I read over at Toeing the Rubber that a fan actually tried to hug Ellsbury as he made his way to the field during introductions... Three guesses as to the color of the besotted fan's headwear.
2.) Pedroia, 2B: Boston's biggest mouth took the second offering from Ray's starter James Shields over the Green Monster to put the Sox up, 1-0. To all those who wondered how much the MVP would regress this year: he heard you, and he begs to differ.
3.) Ortiz, DH: One of the question marks heading into the season, Papi followed Pedroia's homer with a hit of his own, albeit a less dramatic one. Still, an Ortiz who looks comfortable at the plate is something we can all look forward to.
4.) Youkilis, 1B: Youk was the only Sox player to notch two hits yesterday, with a single and a double. That guy down in the Bronx we were all so anxious to sign four months ago? Still hitless on the season... against the Orioles. I'm trying to contain my glee. On a related note, Youk was offended that the home town writers had picked the Sox to fall to the Cubs in the Fall Classic. Now that's confidence.
5.) Drew, RF: Our good [and fragile] friend JD, beyond a single and an RBI, safely made it down to the field. According to boston.com, #7 felt "like a gorilla at the zoo." Personally, I'm just happy he didn't manage to get a splinter on the way down and end up on the 15-day disabled list.
6.) Bay, LF: In the first Opening Day since 2001 with someone not named Ramirez manning left field, the resident Canadian had a productive game: a hit, an RBI, and a run scored. And he didn't even trip Jack McCormick during pregame introductions. I don't know about anyone else, but I'll take it.
7.) Lowell, 3B: The worry with Lowell coming in was that he might not have the necessary speed on the basepaths (apparently that's part of the reason he's batting seventh, the other being that Tito likes to alternate left/right). However, Lowell hit a stand up double out towards left-center field yesterday: he doesn't need to be Jacoby Ellsbury (in fact, Ellsbury doesn't need to be Ellsbury, the way he played yesterday) if he keeps hitting "rockets." [term trademarked by Dustin Pedroia]
8.) Lowrie, SS: The newest farm system product to start an Opening Day, Lowrie only went 1-for-4, but he did make a nice pick on a tricky play and get the ball over to Youk for the out, a maneuver I'll believe Lugo can make only if I see it.
9.) Varitek, C: El Capitan started his ninth straight Opening Day in a Sox uniform, a team record for a catcher. Tek did his best to silence those who have been predicting another abysmal offensive season by going deep in the sixth. To the catcher's credit, when asked about the homerun after the game, he declined to comment, saying that "three-fourths" of his job is behind the plate. If there's one thing we can count on Varitek for, it's class.
SP: Beckett: Facing off against "Big Game" James, Josh Beckett showed the Rays what a real gamer pitches like. Beckett struck out ten while pitching seven innings of two-hit ball, and dropped at least one F-bomb that was visible on NESN's camera's.
RP: Okajima: Oki hit a batsman and walked another before striking out the third batter he faced. Apparently, Francona put him in for the righty-lefty-lefty trio coming up, as he can be affective against both... just not yesterday, but that's alright because...
RP: Masterson: The 6'6" sinkerballer came in and allowed a double steal on his very first pitch, then surrendered a hit that allowed both inherited runners to score. However, he emerged from the inning without further damage, preserving a 5-3 Sox lead for Paps in the ninth.
Save: Papelbon: After an offseason during which he set a record for arbitration eligible closers and made several questionable comments during interviews, Paps settled right back in to his actual job, striking out two of the three batters he faced and earning the save. And as for the questionable quotes he offers? Well, that's just Paps being Paps.