BALTIMORE Even though the Boston Red Sox insist that they’ve turned the page from last year, their first win of the season was eerily reminiscent of 2013.
David Ortiz and Mike Napoli homered, John Lackey threw six sharp innings and Boston ruined the Baltimore debut of Ubaldo Jimenez with a 6-2 victory Wednesday night.
Dustin Pedroia had four hits for the defending World Series champion Red Sox, now 1-1 after losing to Baltimore on opening day.
“Dustin, David and Mike. That’s three of the better hitters in the league,” said Boston manager John Farrell, who rode the trio to 97 wins during the 2013 regular season.
Lackey (1-0) looked even sharper than he did last year, when he had a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts. In this one, the right-hander allowed two runs and three hits before handing the ball to the bullpen, which finished with three scoreless innings.
“I just threw country hard balls the first few innings, then was able to mix in other pitches later on,” Lackey said. “I was very pleased for the first time. It felt pretty good. It’s something I can keep building on.”
Lackey said he made “one mistake” – an 0-2 pitch that Nelson Cruz hit over the right field wall for his second homer in two games. But the Orioles did little else right against Lackey, who walked one and struck out six in improving to 14-5 lifetime against Baltimore.
“He had command and he was throwing strikes and he was working fast,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “It seemed like it was the fourth or fifth inning before we really started to see some pitches over the middle of the plate. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. When he can locate like that with his kind of stuff, you’re going to have success.”
Ortiz connected in the third inning and Napoli made it 4-2 with a two-run shot in the fifth. Both homers came off Jimenez (0-1), who signed a four-year contract with the Orioles in February after winning 13 games with Cleveland last year.
“The one to David, that was a good pitch,” Jimenez said. “It seems like he was looking for that pitch and he hit it good. But the one to Napoli, I would definitely like to have that back. Oh-and-2, big mistake. I was trying to go away and left it right down the middle.”
Jimenez allowed four runs, five hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out six in his lamentable Orioles debut.
“You always want to win. But it is part of the game,” he said. “That’s how it goes. I still have 30 more games to go. I have to get ready for my next one.”
Ortiz put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the third inning with a drive to right following a single by Pedroia. Ortiz was 0 for 7 lifetime against Jimenez before connecting.
“The pitch to Ortiz wasn’t a bad pitch,” Wieters said. “He was probably looking for something in and he got it and he didn’t miss it. You’ve got to give him credit.”
Lackey gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis, then retired 11 straight before Chris Davis walked with two outs in the fourth. Cruz followed with an opposite-field drive to right on an 0-2 pitch.
Signed as a free agent in February, Cruz has accounted for all of Baltimore’s four runs this season – three RBIs and a run scored.
In the fifth, Jimenez hit Daniel Nava with a pitch and Napoli homered on an 0-2 count.
Boston pulled away in the seventh against Ryan Webb. After two singles and an intentional walk to Ortiz loaded the bases, Napoli lined a two-run single to left. Napoli had a major league-leading 31 RBIs last year with the bases loaded.
And this year, nothing’s changed.
“In that situation, you’ve got one out and the bases loaded, so I’m just trying to hit a flyball to get the run in,” Napoli said. “I just happened to get a base hit, so that’s extra. It’s nice to come through in those situations.”