NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Red Sox were daring on the basepaths. Jon Lester and the Boston bullpen were aggressive against a barely recognizable New York Yankees’ lineup.
The Red Sox looked as if they were in a hurry to put a dreadful 2012 season behind them. They’re off to an impressive start, giving new manager John Farrell an 8-2 win on opening day Monday.
“I think how you saw it (Monday) is how we can win a lot of ballgames,” new designated hitter Jonny Gomes said. “It was kind of all there early.”
Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBIs and Bradley walked three times and scored twice in his big league debut. Boston’s big day against CC Sabathia (0-1) came a year after it lost its first three games under Bobby Valentine and went on to a 69-93 finish.
Facing a Yankees lineup minus injured Derek Jeter for the first time since 2001 and just three starters from opening day a year ago, Lester (1-0) gave up five hits and two runs in five sharp innings against the defending AL East champions.
“It’s big,” Lester said. “It’s obviously a lot nicer than the past couple of years to be on top 1-0 instead of going through a whole road trip without a win again.”
Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira also are on the disabled list.
“You’re talking about some of the best players in the game. It’s going to be a little different,” Sabathia said. “But we know what we have to do and who’s not here. That’s not an excuse.”
Bradley, meanwhile, made an immediate impact after earning a spot with a strong spring training performance.
In his first plate appearance, the ever-smiling 22-year-old outfielder worked a one-out walk after falling behind 0-2. That helped Boston touch up the big lefty for four runs in the second inning — and start the angry rumblings of 49,514 anxious Yankees fans.
Young No. 44 then stole a potential RBI hit from Robinson Cano with a running, twisting grab in a swirling wind in left field in the third. Bradley added an RBI groundout in the seventh.
All in a day’s work for the unflappable rookie.
“I wasn’t nervous. I was ready,” Bradley said. “Just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The punchless Yankees had just one hit after the fifth inning against five relievers in losing a season opener at home for the first time since 1982, after 11 straight wins.
Adding to the tough day all around for New York, rain in the ninth inning sent fans running for cover while the Red Sox scored three times against a mustachioed Joba Chamberlain.
Jacoby Ellsbury had a sharp two-run infield single that first baseman Lyle Overbay, picked up off waivers only a week ago, couldn’t handle for his third hit. Victorino singled home Bradley to add to the romp.
“We want to put pressure on the opposition,” Farrell said. “And that’s not strictly with attempted steals and how we look to run the bases first to third, but the attitude and how we go about our work.”
One team in New York won on Monday, though. In a first, the Yankees and Mets opened on the same day at the same time. The Mets finished off an 11-2 victory while their Bronx counterparts were in the eighth inning.
Before the game, the Yankees held a tribute to the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and honored first responders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Both teams wore a patch that included the Newtown seal, a black memorial ribbon and 26 stars, one for each victim.
No matter the colorful history between the clubs, the reality in 2013 is this: The two teams that have dominated the division for more than a decade enter opening day with considerably less swagger.
Heck, the Yankees played as if they were still trying to get to know each other — and they were, with several March acquisitions.
The Bleacher Creatures’ roll call was loaded with new names because of injuries and the departures of free agents Nick Swisher and Russell Martin.
“We brought some guys in later into camp,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re going to get a lot of opportunities here, and we’re going to need them to perform.”
One name the Creatures did include was closer Mariano Rivera, who is coming back from a torn knee ligament and said during spring training he plans to retire at the end of the season.
But he wasn’t needed in this one after Boston jumped out to an early lead. That was enough for Lester, who looked more like the pitcher who won at least 15 games every year from 2008-11 and not the one who went 9-14 last year.
Boston wasn’t at full strength, either. David Ortiz is on the disabled list with sore heels, the first time he was not the Red Sox designated hitter for the opener since Jeremy Giambi in 2003.
The Red Sox had only four players from their opening-day lineup last year starting in this one: Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Lester, making his third consecutive such start.
Even weirder: former gritty Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis was clean-shaved and in Yankees pinstripes.
“I think we’re making it more than it is,” he said. “I go out there and play. I don’t sit down and stare at my uniform all game.”
Making his 10th opening-day start overall, Sabathia settled after the second to allow four runs and eight hits.
Francisco Cervelli, who spent nearly all last season in Triple-A, had a two-run single off Lester in the fourth and made a swift tag on Ellsbury sliding into home plate in the sixth.
NOTES: Former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella bounced a ceremonial first pitch to groans from the fans. … Paul McCartney will play a concert at Fenway Park on July 9. … Jeter worked out at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. … Teixeira was told he didn’t have to wear the brace on his wrist except when working out.
It wasn’t exactly the start that the Yankees had hoped for. Your thoughts on today’s game? Let’s hear them in the comments section below…
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