For Red Sox, opener again turns into frustrating night

Martinez's one brutal inning, 14 runners left on base ensure fourth straight first-game loss

April 05, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Game 1 was one the Boston Red Sox simply want to forget about.

Their three-time Cy Young Award winner and pitching ace had one nightmarish inning last night that was enough to doom him to defeat.

Without injured sluggers Nomar Garciaparra (Achilles' tendon) and Trot Nixon (back), the Boston offense struggled to finish, putting 19 runners on base but scoring only two of them.

The defense was shaky, with two Red Sox errors directly leading to Orioles runs and the swirling wind playing havoc with the outfielders, who occasionally had trouble tracking down fly balls.

It all added up to Boston's fourth consecutive Opening Day defeat, a 7-2 decision against the Orioles that was hardly the fodder that will ease the concerns of Red Sox Nation.

"There's going to be better days and warmer days, hopefully real soon," said Boston center fielder Johnny Damon. "It's good to get this one out of the way, go out and relax and concentrate on playing Tuesday's game."

The problems began with a three-run second inning against Pedro Martinez, who served a fastball that Javy Lopez pounded for a home run and then contributed to a three-run inning by hitting David Segui with a pitch and making a wild throw to first on Larry Bigbie's bunt after first glancing at second base, where a forceout might have been possible.

After that, Martinez was the same dominating force baseball fans have come to know, facing just 17 more hitters before leaving after the sixth inning.

"He goes six [innings] and gives up three [runs]," said Martinez's battery-mate, Jason Varitek. "That's what we want out of our starters. He got a feel for the game as it went on. All in all, it's a quality start."

The Red Sox could not unhook Martinez from the loss because they couldn't deliver a key hit when it mattered. They left 14 men on base, stifled three potential rallies with double plays (one culminating in an unsuccessful steal) and produced just one extra-base hit, a double by Mark Bellhorn.

"We had our chances before they tacked on the second three [runs]," said Boston manager Terry Francona. "We just couldn't get the big hit."

The second big burst was at the expense of former Oriole Mike Timlin with one down in the seventh inning. Two walks and three straight hits, including a double by offensive hero Lopez, sealed the Red Sox's fate.

"I wasn't good. That's all there was to it," Timlin said. "I was missing the plate a little bit, got behind and gave up some hits that were kind of lucky.

"[Rafael] Palmeiro hits a ground ball where the shortstop normally is and [Miguel] Tejada flares one into right, then Lopez hits a fly ball that carries in the wind. Nothing happened good for us today."

Martinez had never dropped an Opening Day start. He left the clubhouse before the media entered, but left plenty of defenders behind.

"He had a tough inning and after that he buckled down and was very, very good," Francona said. "He made some great pitches after that and gave us a chance to win that game."

"Nothing went right. We just weren't good," said Damon.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.