It’s hard to find anything not to like about Opening Day 2015 if you’re a Red Sox fan.
The opener to the 115th Red Sox campaign was a decisive 8-0 shut out of the Philadelphia Phillies behind a solid performance by Clay Buchholz, who became the first Boston starter to allow no runs over 7.0+ innings of work on Opening Day since Pedro Martinez on April 4, 2000 facing the Mariners. It’s the first Boston shut out of an opponent on Opening Day since a 2-0 win over the Mariners on Opening Day 2000.
Buchholz’ 9 strikeouts were the most by a Red Sox pitcher on Opening Day since Josh Beckett struck out 10 in his start against the Rays on Opening Day 2009. Since 1914 only Beckett, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Wes Ferrell, Joe Dobson and now Clay Buchholz have struck out 9 or more batters in the first game of a season.
In all, Buchholz went 7.0 innings with 3 hits (the first coming with 2 outs in the fourth inning), a walk, and those 9 strikeouts.
Buchholz became the first Red Sox to go from the No. 5 starting role a year earlier to the Opening Day starter since Clemens in 1988. Clay and Bob Stanley are the only Red Sox pitchers since 1960 to be 30+ years old at the time of their 1st Opening Day starts.
8 runs via the home run
At the plate the Boston offense was as advertised: powerful. In the 102 Opening Day games since 1914, Monday’s marked the 20th to feature multiple Red Sox home runs. Having 5 Boston home runs made today’s game historical, tying the club record for most HRs in the past 102 Opening Day games (also April 12, 1965 against the Senators).
Setting aside Opening Day records, it was the first time the Red Sox have clubbed 5 home runs in a regular season game since totaling 8 HRs in a 20-4 taming of the Tigers on September 4, 2013.
Dustin Pedroia‘s fist inning home run Monday marked the third time in his career he’s circled the bases on Opening Day, joining Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice as the Red Sox with the 3rd-most Opening Day games with a home run since at least 1914. Pedroia’s second solo shot, coming in the top of the 5th inning, marked the fourth time he’s had multiple home runs in a single game (on June 24, 2010 Pedroia had a career-high 3 HRs in a game against the Rockies).
Besides Pedroia today the only MLB second baseman with multiple home runs on Opening Day is the Diamondbacks Felipe Lopez on April 6, 2000.
Hanley Ramirez, appearing in his first game for Boston since October 2, 2005, also belted a career-high two home runs for the 17th time in his career: a solo shot in the fifth inning and a majestic grand slam off the left field foul post in the top of the 9th inning. It was the first Red Sox grand slam on Opening Day since Jack Clark‘s in 1991. The only other occasion was Carlton Fisk in 1973.
It was Ramirez’ 6th career grand slam, his first since July 2, 2011 with the Marlins vs the Rangers. Last season the Red Sox tied with the Astro and Athletics for the 2nd-most grand slams in the American League (5 each). The Orioles and Reds led baseball with 6 each.
Coming off a scorching Spring Training, 22-year old Mookie Betts added to the Red Sox offense with a third inning solo home run. Betts joins Tom Winsett and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox aged 22 or younger to have Opening Day home runs. Betts distinguished himself further as the Sox’ youngest Opening Day lead off hitter since Rico Petrocelli in 1965 (age 21) and the club’s youngest Opening Day center fielder since Conigliaro in 1964 (age 19).
The Red Sox have the day off Tuesday before facing the Phillies in Game 2 of the opening series on Wednesday night, 7:05 ET/4:05 PT. ESPN 2 is broadcasting the game nationally.