Opening week. A week that sees the first series of the Major League Baseball season take place, as well as the overreactions from fans across America, as they witness their teams either shine or fall flat on their faces.
This past weekend is sure to be one of those overreacting weekends for Boston Red Sox fans, as the defending 2018 World Series Champions went into the former Safeco Field in Seattle, and lost three of four to a team that could quite possibly finish with the worst record in the American League come September. Chris Sale would get rocked on Opening Day, throwing just 3 innings, while serving up seven earned runs with three homers, two of which came off the bat of Tim Beckham.
Beckham, who had a homer in Tokyo a couple weeks back, now currently leads the American League in home-runs. Don’t overreact, it is only April 1st. The Sox pitching allowed 18 earned runs on 22 hits in just the first 3 games, while also allowing a plethora of homers to likes of Tim Beckham, Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion, etc. With the 1-3 start to the season, one Red Sox fan seems to be making an overreaction to the series loss to the M’s.
Despite the horrific pitching performances over the weekend, Red Sox fans realize how Opening Day works, as the Sox dropped Opening Day in their 2004, 2007 and 2018 World Series campaigns. Also, despite losing 3 of 4 to Seattle, Boston saw huge production from their big bats, including J.D. Martinez, who clubbed two homers over the weekend. Mookie Betts also smacked his first homer of the season on Sunday.
The Red Sox also look to win their fans back after the poor start, after signing Xander Bogaerts to a 7-year contract extension worth over $132 million. Maybe if the Sox get swept in Oakland this week, Dave Dombroski will have no choice but to offer Mookie Betts a $400 million extension, right?
Also, despite getting out-hit by a team who, again, may very well finish dead last in the American League come September, the Red Sox watched their bitter rival New York Yankees drop a three-game set at home against the league’s worst team in 2018, the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees came out firing on all cylinders on Thursday, with Masahiro Tanaka mowing down the Orioles in six innings. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each picked up a hit. Luke Voit and Greg Bird also displayed why they should be the first basemen going forward with a home-run each.
But the success would be short lived, as the bombers would come out on Saturday afternoon and completely spoil and terrific performance by newly-acquired left-hander, James Paxton, who tossed 5 2/3 innings pitched, only allowing one earned run, while striking out five in the process. The Big Maple would walk away from his first start in pinstripes with his first loss in pinstripes, as the offense couldn’t muster anything against a Baltimore pitching staff that “bullpened” the entirety of the game.
The Yankees left a plethora of runners on base, just falling short in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Miguel Andujar came to the plate as the go-ahead run, but struck out to end the ball game. After the game, both Aaron Judge and Aaron Boone took to the podium to say that the Yankees are here to beat their opponents down this year, which is much better than hearing ““we’re not necessarily going to be chasing wins everyday” which Boone implied last year.
Judge went as far as to say that the Yankees back were against the wall coming into just the third game of the regular season, as they look to prove that they can once again reclaim the title of “beasts of the east”. Even with this mentality, the Yankees would come out and nearly play the exact same game from the day before, leaving a thousand runners in scoring position (left the bases-loaded in 3 different innings), immediately going down 3-0 in the top of the first, and not coming up in the big situation like we saw for the most part in 2017 and in parts of 2018.
Not to say that many Yankee fans are over reacting, but these are games that a team must win if they want to contend for a pennant race down the stretch. The Yankees finished 23-14 against last place teams in 2018, which happened to be a nine game difference with the Red Sox, who went 32-5 against last place teams, and won the division by eight games.
Make no mistake about it, the Orioles and Mariners are going to be last place teams, alright. Baltimore only won 47 games a year ago, and don’t look to improve in any way this season, as the Orioles failed to embrace analytics with Buck Showalter at the helm, and look to slowly take each step a day at a time during these next few seasons.
But in the end, it’s just three games, right? The Red Sox and Yankees have to play 159 more games this season, and have shown nothing to say that they won’t be the two teams contending for another World Series appearance come October.