The Red Sox had as close to perfect an opening day at Fenway Park as they could ask for. It was a celebration, not only that baseball season is here, but that the weather is finally here in Boston. The Sox improved to 5-2 on the young season, jumping all over the Nationals, 9-4.
But it didn’t take long for opening day to turn into Mookie Betts day at Fenway.
It looked like Sox starter Rick Porcello was going to give the home crowd an early reason to hang their heads, but Betts went and stole a two-run homer back from Bryce Harper on a crazy athletic catch in center. Keep in mind that at this time one year ago, Mookie was playing second base for the Portland Sea Dogs. Betts has become a VERY good defensive center fielder in an astonishingly short period of time. His defensive potential is scary considering he is still just learning a new position.
The catch was only the first highlight for Betts, though, who also stole the show in the bottom half of the first inning, literally. After drawing a leadoff walk, Betts went ahead and used his speed to his advantage on the bases — stealing both second and third base on the same pitch. The stolen bases proved valuable as David Ortiz then drove Betts in for the first run on the day on the very next pitch.
Mookie didn’t waste any time getting back after it, this time belting a three-run homer into the monster seats in the second inning. The Fenway faithful loved it, as they should, but it was amazing to watch Betts essentially single handedly dominate a baseball game. In maybe the most difficult sport for one individual to make all the difference, Betts was the sole reason Boston was up 4-0 at this stage of the game.
Betts went on to collect an RBI single in the third inning too, winding up with a pretty nice final line: 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2 SB and one eye popping catch. The Mookie Betts show began to wind down at this point, but the Red Sox were still able to keep their offense going. And it was all thanks to some remarkably poor defense by the Nationals that can’t go without being mentioned.
A pair of fly balls were misplayed HORRIBLY by the Nats’ outfielders — one that they thought may hit the wall in left, but simply dropped on the field, and another in right where the fielders seemed to just look at each other and let land harmlessly on the outfield grass. Washington followed it up with another misplayed ball to short that kept things rolling for the home team. It was the worst half inning of defensive baseball I’ve ever seen.
But in the end, this day was about Betts, as his first opening day at Fenway became the first game ever a Red Sox leadoff man recorded a home run, four RBI and two stolen bags. Many, like myself, thought this kid would become a fan favorite rather quickly in Boston. None of us thought it would take one game. Watch out for Mookie Betts.
Follow me on Twitter @julianedlow