Red Sox join elite group with historic opening series

Boston puts up 27 runs over three games to take series from Orioles

April 2nd, 2023

BOSTON -- In the first series of the season, Boston’s remodeled batting order looked built to score and relentless while doing it.

Maybe it doesn’t have the name recognition of past years, with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez leading the notable departures. But in these first three games, culminating with Sunday’s 9-5 victory over the Orioles in the rubber match of a three-game series, the Red Sox were historic in their production.

The offense scored nine runs in each of the first three games. Not only was that a club record, but the Sox became just the third team since 1901 to score as many as nine runs in the first three games of a season, joining the ‘76 Reds and ‘78 Brewers.

The balance from top to bottom has been noticeable. While red-hot Adam Duvall (three hits Sunday and a team-leading eight RBIs) has led the early charge, contributions have come from the fearsome Rafael Devers, and also Alex Verdugo, Masataka Yoshida, Justin Turner, Kiké Hernández (homers the past two games) and Triston Casas to name a few.

“For us, there’s not going to be one, set guy that's going to hold this whole team up and keep going. It's going to be every single one of us,” said Verdugo. ”Everybody's going to contribute. Everyone's going to come up big at their own times.”

While manager Alex Cora’s squad played from behind the first two games, the opposite was true on Sunday.

The O’s came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie it at 3 in the top of the fifth. The Sox countered with three in their half of the fifth.

When Baltimore struck back with another two in the seventh to make it a one-run game, Boston answered right back with two in the bottom of the seventh.

“It was big. It was what they did to us the first two days,” said Cora. “There were no shutdown innings for them today. We used everybody. Triston was on the bench, came in and put a good at-bat. [Christian] Arroyo with a good sac [bunt]. We’ve got a complete team and we’re going to use them. We’ll pinch-hit for people. We’ll bunt. We will use our personnel, move the ball around, hit it forward and we’ll take our chances.”

What Cora has always preached on offense is contact.  

“We’re going to put the ball in play,” Cora said. “Today wasn’t the greatest day for exit velocity, but we put the ball in play when it mattered. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

While the offense is bound to be solid, the Red Sox need their pitching to produce. Sunday was a step forward in that regard.

Tanner Houck went five innings for the win after Corey Kluber and Chris Sale combined for just 19 outs in the first two games.

While the pitching staff is still finding its footing, the offense was more than happy to take center stage.  

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Hernández. “Basically we’re doing what we expected ourselves to do as a unit. We’re probably not going to average nine runs a game all year long, but I do believe we’re capable of a lot. We have some guys that are on the same page as far as keeping the line moving and passing on the baton, and so far it’s been great.”

Passing the baton to Duvall is the best move at this point. The team’s new righty slugger went 8-for-14 with three doubles, a triple, two homers and a 1.957 OPS in his first series at Fenway as a home player.

“We all knew that he was going to love Fenway Park,” said Hernández. “He was going to love the Green Monster being that close. He drives in runs, and when he hits the ball, he hits it really hard.”

While this three-game stretch to start the season might wind up the most potent of the entire 162-game slate, Boston is confident that firepower won’t be an issue very often.

“It’s not sustainable,” Cora said of the opening series. “But we’re going to be OK. That’s something that we felt in Spring Training was going to happen, and the quality at-bats are going to stay there. We’re going to go through stretches that we don’t score, but I don’t see too many stretches that we’re going to be swinging and missing, and that’s going to be important for us.”