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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Red Sox bullpen blows Opening Day and it wasn't even Papelbon's fault

Opening Day is one of baseball's special moments. The season begins anew and even the hopeless franchises have something to celebrate for a day.

Seeing your newest players in action is always a highlight and yesterday, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford couldn't have scripted much different debuts for the Boston Red Sox.

Gonzalez had two hits and three RBIs while Crawford was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as the Sox lost 9-5 to the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Neither starting pitcher did much as Jon Lester (5.1 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 3 home runs) and C.J. Wilson (5.2 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 6 strikeouts) looked better suited for some extended Spring Training.

The most surprising aspect was that Boston's bullpen imploded and yet Jonathan Papelbon didn't even get a shot to screw it up.

David Ortiz tied it up at five with a solo shot off Darren Oliver in the eighth inning but Texas scored four times in the home half of the inning.

Josh Bard was charged with four earned runs as David Murphy started it off with a two-run double down the left field line that hit the chalk. Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton followed with RBI doubles of their own and it was game over.

Boston was not going to score one run let alone four off All-Star closer Neftali Feliz.

The Red Sox got off to a nice start with two unearned runs in their first at bats of the season. Rangers center fielder Julio Borbon dropped a routine fly ball and Kevin Youkilis took advantage by knocking in Jacoby Ellsbury (2 hits, 2 runs, walk, steal) with an RBI double. Gonzalez kept the line moving with an RBI single in his first plate appearance for the Red Sox.

The defending AL champions got to work immediately and Ian Kinsler hit a lead-off homer against Lester in the bottom of the first, cutting it to 2-1.

Nelson Cruz (2 hits, 2 runs) tied it in the second with another solo homer.

Gonzalez came through once again with a timely hit, a two-run single in the fourth gave Boston a 4-2 lead.

Mike Napoli (2 hits, 2 runs) wrestled the lead back for the Rangers with a three-run bomb in the fourth inning (5-4 Rangers). Lester only allowed 14 home runs last season but he gave up three yesterday.

Boston's 1-6 in the lineup is lethal but it's clear that 7-9 is likely to be a black hole. Yesterday against the lefty Wilson, Mike Cameron, Jarrod Saltlamacchia and Marco Scutaro combined to go 0-for-11 with three strikeouts.

John Lackey goes for the Red Sox tonight and he'll be opposed by Colby Lewis. Needless to say, expect a high-scoring game.

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