BOSTON — It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox likely will ride the success of Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester this season.
So far, very, very good.
Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings, holding the Baltimore Orioles to three singles to lead the Red Sox to a 3-1 win in the Boston home opener Monday afternoon.
It followed seven shutout innings by Lester on Sunday. The duo is now a combined 4-0.
Daniel Nava provided all of the offense, belting a three-run homer to key the win.
“Both guys have thrown the ball extremely well,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who looked good, too, by inserting Nava into the lineup.
The win was Boston’s ninth straight in home openers and raised its record to 5-2.
“[Lester and Buchholz] are extremely important to us,” Farrell said. “But I don’t want to take away from anyone else that goes to the mound.”
Adam Jones belted a homer for the Orioles, who fell to 3-4.
Buchholz (2-0) was dazzling at times, mixing a sharp curve with a well-spotted, lows 90s fastball for the victory. He walked four with eight strikeouts — four looking.
“It was a fun game to pitch in, especially to come out on top,” he said.
Wei-Yin Chen (0-1) took the tough-luck loss, allowing three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
And it was the lineup change from Farrell that had Nava able to come through with the game’s biggest hit.
“It was special because it was opening day,” said Nava, who has been up and down from Triple-A since hitting a grand slam on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat in 2010. “To me it was special because of the journey.”
Farrell explained before the game that it was a chance to get Nava’s right-handed bat in. The switch-hitting Nava replaced rookie Jackie
Bradley Jr., who was struggling at the plate with three hits in 21 at-bats.
The Red Sox broke in front, 3-0, against Chen on Nava’s homer in the seventh. Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield hit to short and advanced to third when Mike Napoli doubled off the base of the left-center field wall. Nava then belted a shot over the seats above the Green Monster, making the lineup change look good.
“I don’t think it was a mistake to Nava,” Chen said through a translator. “I think that it was a mistake to Napoli, a 2-2 changeup. It was just a fastball. I don’t know if it was the location I wanted, but I threw it pretty well.”
Andrew Bailey worked the eighth, striking out a pair, and Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth for his 99th career save and third this season.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “[Chen] gave us a really good chance to win. Wish we could have gotten him the ‘W.’”
After the pregame excitement of opening day wore off, the teams settled into a pitchers’ duel. Buchholz limited the Orioles to three singles through six innings and Chen did one better, holding Boston to a pair of singles.
Baltimore’s best chance in the opening innings came when Manny Machado and Nick Markakis had consecutive two-out singles in the third, but Buchholz fanned red-hot Jones looking with a curveball to end the threat.
“We never put a lot of pressure on Buchholz,” Showalter said.
Following pregame festivities that included a flyover, emotional singing by former and current Jimmy Fund patients, and a pause to remember greats that each franchise lost last year — the passing of Johnny Pesky and Earl Weaver — Nate McLouth opened the game with a sharp single to center.
With Boston coming off miserable 69-win season, the worst since 1966, many of the Red Sox fans came into Fenway Park with limited hopes. It showed with a lackluster pregame crowd that had the nearly 101-year old ballpark only about two-thirds full.
NOTES: Farrell said RHP John Lackey, who walked off the mound in Saturday’s loss against Toronto with a right biceps strain, is “still in the 48-, 72-hour recovery period. The most important thing is, following the MRI it showed some inflammation in the bicep.” He also said that it showed no tear. Lackey is iffy for his next scheduled start Friday. Farrell said Alfredo Aceves is a candidate to start. … Farrell said DH David Ortiz, recovering from a sore heel that’s had him miss the entire spring training, went 2 for 4 in a simulated game in Florida on Monday. “Another good day in Fort Myers,” Farrell said. … The Orioles won the season series 13-5 last year, going 7-2 in Fenway. … Jones, who was one of the few Orioles greeted with a spattering of boos — along with Showalter, came in with at least a hit in the first six games, going 14 for 26. … The Red Sox paid tribute to their 60-year relationship with the Jimmy Fund, an organization that
raises funds to support cancer research, by having patients throw out ceremonial first pitches with doctors and nurses along side. … Boston announced that Toronto claimed INF Mauro Gomez off waivers. … Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin was in the stands and got a
nice hand when they showed him on the center-field video board.