Red Sox Stage A Comeback In The Bottom Of The Ninth, Hanley Ramirez Walks It Off In The Bottom Of The 12th

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

Haters will say the Red Sox have yet to play a good team. We’re saying that the Red Sox are 6-1 and should be 7-0. Suck on that.

Opening Day, baby! I don’t care if the season started over a week ago. The first home game of the season is still Opening Day to me damnit. For the first time since their disappointing first round exit last October, the gates at Fenway Park were open for business and the Red Sox came home as the hottest team in baseball, winners of five straight. Boston caught a bullpen day from Tampa, as the Rays thought that it would be wise to go into the season with four starting pitchers. Totally sustainable model for success, no doubt.

I can chirp them about this dumb idea all I want now about how a four-man rotation won’t work out long term, but it sure as shit worked on Thursday when the first four relievers out of Tampa’s bullpen blanked the Red Sox into the bottom of the ninth. Boston was trailing 2-0 with three outs to live because Carson Smith came in to relieve David Price in the eighth inning, walked the first batter that he faced and then gave up a two-run shot to something called Matt Duffy, the runner-up for the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2014, who since has a .665 OPS at the major league level, including zero big league at-bats last season.

But in order for Smith to blow the shutout, there first must be a shutout to blow. That shutout was in place because David Price dominated yet again, throwing seven shutout innings in his second consecutive start to begin the season, striking out five while scattering a mere three hits. Through their first seven starts, Red Sox starters have struck out 39 batters in 42 innings with a 0.86 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. As you can imagine, that’s the best mark in the majors. The next best team, the Dodgers, have posted a 1.99 ERA through seven starts themselves.

Back to the bottom of the ninth — the bullpen gate opened, and out came Rays closer Alex Colome, whose 47 saves led the league last year. Mookie Betts got the party started with a leadoff single, followed by a seven-pitch walk to Andrew Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez came up and stroked a base hit to center to make it a one-run game. JD Martinez, who has yet to make some noise this season, grounded into a double play, setting the stage for Xander Bogaerts, who has been on the opposite end of the spectrum in the early going. Bogaerts hammered a double off the Green Monster to tie the game up at two, and the inning would conclude on a bang-bang play at first base with Jackie Bradley missing out on walk-off glory by milliseconds.

The Red Sox bullpen, as shaky as they’ve been, buckled down and provided four shutout innings of relief after the Smith blunder. Craig Kimbrel’s inning of work was a fucking heart attack, as he gave up a hit and walked a couple of guys, but ultimately escaped the inning with a pair of strikeouts. The hero of the day was lefty reliever Bobby “Big Balls” Poyner, who tossed two scoreless innings of relief when most were scratching their heads at how he made the roster over Robbie Scott out of spring training.

Bradley led off the bottom of the 12th with a double, and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Hanley, who, outside of Bogaerts, has been the most pleasant surprise thus far from an offensive standpoint. Hanley got a first-pitch changeup and drove it to the right field wall to walk it off for the good guys on Opening Day. The last time that the Red Sox had a walk-off victory on Opening Day was courtesy of the Hit Dog, Mo Vaughn, in 1998 when the Red Sox came into the ninth inning down five and the big fella hit a walk-off grand slam. Shout out to El Guapo for getting the win in that one.

The Kyrie Irving news sucks, and we’re all excited to see what the Bruins are going to do in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but this Red Sox team is fucking good. They’re off to a 6-1 start and their offense really hasn’t even gotten going yet. Going to be a fun year. Come on back.

PS — Here’s a picture of El Guapo that I like a lot.

Latin Athletes Becoming More Common In Pro Sports

Final score: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 — 12 innings