David Price, Red Sox falter in home opener
BOSTON — The tradition at the home opener for the Boston Red Sox is to have a day that the capacity crowd at Fenway Park would long remember. Somebody forgot to give the right ending to the Baltimore Orioles.
Chris Davis belted a three-run home run up on the tarp in center field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. The Red Sox missed on two chances to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, losing 9-7 on a brisk, but sun-kissed afternoon on Yawkey Way.
Mookie Betts — 3 for 5 with two runs scored and two runs batted in — led off the ninth with a home run, but after Dustin Pedroia singled and Xander Bogaerts walked, Ortiz hit into a 4-6-3 double play. It was started when Baltimore second baseman Jonathan Schoop ranged far to his right. Ortiz and the ball arrived at the bag at nearly the same time, but video replay upheld the double play. Then Hanley Ramirez struck out to end the game.
"That's how it is around here, man. We don't give up until the game is over," said Ortiz, who went 2 for 5 in the last Fenway opener of his storied career. "We know how to bounce back. We know how to come from behind and hopefully that's the case this year.
"At the end of the game, we faced a good closer who made some good pitches."
Baltimore closer Zach Britton might not frame this save, giving up a run on two hits and a walk, but it counts all the same.
The day belonged to Ortiz and the Red Sox early on. Ortiz's daughter Alex surprised her father by singing the National Anthem. More on the 15-year old's performance later.
But at the end of the day, the day had to be owned by Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel, acquired in the off-season to give the Red Sox plenty of bullpen depth, gave up a one-out walk to Caleb Joseph, but struck out Joey Rickard for the second out. Kimbrel was one pitch away from ending the inning, but walked Manny Machado on a 3-1 pitch. Davis came up and on an 0-1 pitch, rocketed the ball onto the tarp in center for a three-run homer. The ball was estimated to go 433 feet. It was the first time the closer had ever given up a home run with multiple runners on base. Davis went 2 for 5 with five runs batted in.
"He's into that inning and uncharacteristically, a couple of walks inside the ninth. Then, Davis is a real good low-ball hitter and he gets a fastball in the middle of the plate, and turns it around," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game.
Brad Brach, the fourth Baltimore pitcher, got the win.
The Opening-Day script should, from the Red Sox perspective, have had a quality outing from Boston's $217 million man. David Price pitched four shutout innings and struck out seven Baltimore hitters. The fifth inning, however, was another story entirely.
Boston had staked the left-hander to a 3-0 lead with three runs on four hits in the home first inning.
Price, who cruised through the first two innings, loaded the bases with one out in the third. Davis plated two runs with a single up the middle. Then Mark Trumbo hit a 1-1 pitch over the Red Sox bullpen and into the bleachers for a 3-run homer to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
"That's kind of been my Achilles heel, having that one bad inning," Price said, standing before the Red Sox media horde in the Boston locker room. "That's all it takes in this game. It could be one pitch.
"He hit a fastball in that just leaked out over the middle of the plate. That's what happens."
Since the Red Sox didn't come away with the win, the moment to be spoken about was the singing of Alex Ortiz, who received a well-earned standing ovation for her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Ramirez was standing next to Big Papi on the first-base line while she sung, and saw Ortiz tearing up. The Sox DH said he had no idea this was coming, quickly adding that he now knows how his parents felt about watching him play baseball.
"I was more nervous at that time than in any at-bat in my career," said Ortiz. "It wasn't even about me. It was about her."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.
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