Committing to going to a baseball game in April is a lot like playing weather roulette. It could either be 40 degrees with a 30 mph wind like it was this past Saturday… or it could be 65 degrees with bright, sunshine-y blue skies like it was today. A perfect scenario for my very first Opening Day at Fenway Park.
Fans were asked to be in their seats by 1:30 for some special pre-game ceremonies that began by honoring a 60 year partnership between the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund with a performance by the Jimmy Fund chorus. Following the introductions of the two teams, there was a brief remembrance for both Johnny Pesky and former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver—who both passed away last year.
An American flag, covering the entire Green Monster was unfurled for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Jimmy Fund chorus. And what Opening Day would be complete without a flyover—this year by two vintage P-51 Mustangs from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation. From behind the giant flag emerged players and patients from the last several decades who made their way from the outfield in to the pitcher’s mound to throw out the first pitches… Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek and Jim Rice were among those players. Of course, it made me teary. They always know how to make me cry.
The only thing that could make the day better was a win, which the Red Sox served up in dramatic fashion. The pitchers dueled for the first 6.5 innings—Clay Buchholz for the good guys and Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles. At this point, I figured the first team to score would win the game. Luckily, the Sox struck first.
You just knew good things were going to happen when Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom of the 7th with an infield single. Mike Napoli quickly followed with a line shot to the center field wall for double. The fans got a bit restless when Pedroia was held up at third, especially when Will Middlebrooks whiffed for the first out. Not to fear though, Daniel Nava smashed a 91 mph fastball over everything into a dumpster on Landsdowne Street.
Clay Buchholz was masterful, pitching seven innings of three-hit shutout ball, while striking out eight Orioles. He joins Jon Lester at 2-0 on this young season with an ERA of 0.64. Joel Hanrahan earned his third save, but it was not without drama. He gave up two hits in the top of the ninth, one a home run to Adam Jones to make us all hold our breath just a little bit.
The Sox take on the Orioles again for game two of the series on Wednesday night with Ryan Dempster taking the mound, trying for his first win with his new team. Click here for the exciting box score, courtesy of the Red Sox.