In a game that felt eerily like the bad old days of 2022, the Red Sox dropped the season opener to the Orioles 10-9. As was so often the case last year, the Sox offense, which trailed from the first inning, rallied again and again only to see the hole dug deeper by lackluster pitching.
Corey Kluber, in his Red Sox debut and sixth career Opening Day start, couldn’t reach the fourth inning. He was charged with the loss, allowing five earned runs and issuing an uncharacteristic four walks over just 3.1 IP. With the Rays last year Kluber’s 3% walk rate was the lowest of his career and best in the Major Leagues.
But it was the Red Sox bullpen, the primary focus of Baseball Boss Chaim Bloom’s off-season, that kept the game out of reach with Ryan Brasier and Kaleb Ort combining for five earned runs and just one strikeout over 3.0 IP. It was just the fifth time in franchise history that multiple Sox relievers allowed multiple runs on Opening Day, joining Dave Ferriss & Walt Masterson (1950). Alan Embree & Chad Fox (2003), Joe Kelly & Carson Smith (2018), and Tyler Thornburg & Hector Velázquez (2019).
Thursday’s bullpen meltdown hearkened back to so many 2022 games when multiple relievers allowed multiple runs in 18 different games. The Sox’ next closest division rival had half as many such games.
The Red Sox are now 59-63-1 in inaugural games of a new season, including 25-20 in such games at home (22-20 at Fenway Park).
Notes from the game
- A triple for Alex Verdugo was the first by a lead off batter to start the Red Sox offense in an Opening Day game since Rabbit Warstler on Opening Day 1931 at Washington Senators. Was third such triple in club history and the first ever at a Fenway Park season opener.
- Verdugo became just the seventh lead off batter with a triple for the Sox on Opening Day. It’s a list that includes the late, great Sox Hall of Famer Jerry Remy (in 1978).
- Corey Kluber is just second starter in Red Sox club history to allow multiple home runs and 4+ walks in an Opening Day start. The other to do that was Earl Wilson on Day One of the 1966 season, which was also played agains Baltimore.
- Ryan Brasier became just the seventh reliever in Major League history (and just the fourth ever in American League history) to allow 3+ earned runs, multiple walks, and be charged with a wild pitch in 1.0 or fewer innings of an Opening Day game.
- All three newcomers to the Red Sox lineup this season (Adam Duvall, Justin Turner, and Masataka Yoshida) had a hit and an RBI on Opening Day, with Turner and Yoshida recording two hits each.
- The Red Sox were the only AL East team to lose on Opening Day 2023.
- The Red Sox became just the sixth team in MLB history to record 9+ walks and 2+ wild pitches in an Opening Day game. The Royals did that to open the 2021 campaign,but the previous such game was by 1982 Blue Jays.
- The nine walks issued by Boston pitchers today tied a franchise record for an Opening Day game (also in 1926 and 1966).
- Baltimore’s young catcher, Adley Rutschman, was 5-for-5 on Thursday becoming just the second ever to do that in Orioles Opening Day history. He joined Harlond Clift in the 1937 opener (also 5-for-5, also with a home run). Rutschman became the 14th batter in American League history with as many as five hits, including a home run, and at least one walk in a game before turning 26 years old. In Boston history, just two batters have done that: Carl Yastrzemski in 1965 and Lou Clinton in 1962.
- Before Rutschman today, the only other batter in Baltimore franchise history with five hits, a walk, and a home run in a game was one-time Red Sox Don Baylor on August 14, 1973 at Rangers.
- Since at least 1901, no catcher but Rutschman has recorded five hits or gotten on base six times in a season-opening game.