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Game 1 A.D.

Monday, April 3, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 32

Red Sox 5, Pirates 3

Every year, I make the same tweet on the morning of the home opener:

Though this marked my 17th Fenway Park Opening Day, there were a couple of things different this year: they opened the season at home for a change (2002, ‘09, and ‘10 being the other times since I started going), and this was the first in a long time without the services of David Ortiz.  While I was going to miss the irreplaceable Big Papi, Year 1 A. D. (After David) brought a young, exciting team, and opening at home meant we got to see reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello on the mound.  I got to Fenway around 10:30 and made a couple of laps around the outside of the ballpark.

Obligatory shot of the Fenway facade on Opening Day.

Obligatory shot of the Fenway façade early on Opening Day.

Fans stream past the Cask & Flagon on their way up from Kenmore Square.

Fans stream past the Cask 'n Flagon on their way up from Kenmore Square.

The back of the center field scoreboard as seen from Lansdowne St.  I got in the early entrance line for Season Ticket Holders and Red Sox Nation members that forms at Gate C and went in at 11:35.

The back of the center field scoreboard as seen from Lansdowne St. I got in the early entrance line for Season Ticket Holders and Red Sox Nation members that forms at Gate C and went in at 11:35.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. takes batting practice. It was still cool in the morning, but the sun on the seats of the Green Monster felt great. Too bad my seat for the game was in the shade!

Jackie Bradley, Jr., takes batting practice. It was still cool in the morning, but the sun felt great as we watched B.P. from the seats of the Green Monster. Too bad my seat for the game was in the shade!

Happy New Year, '17!

Happy New Year, '17!

Chris Sale got an extended ovation when he was announced in the starting lineups. It was one of the biggest of the day, along with Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello, and Mookie Betts (although that one was a "Moooooooo!" so it's hard to compare.)

Chris Sale got an extended ovation when he was announced in the starting lineups. It was one of the biggest of the day, along with Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello, and Mookie Betts (although that one was a "Moooooooo!" so it's hard to compare).

We pretty much knew the Patriots would be involved in the opening ceremny as they've won the Super Bowl a time or four before.  This time it was Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, James White, Rob Gronkowski, and Bob Kraft who emerged from behind the American flag, carrying the team's five Lombardi trophies.

We pretty much knew the Patriots would be involved in the opening ceremny as they've won the Super Bowl a time or four before. This time it was Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, James White, Rob Gronkowski, and Bob Kraft who emerged from behind the American flag, carrying the team's five Lombardi trophies.

When they got to the infield, we finally got a break in the case of who stole Tom Brady’s historic Super Bowl LI game shirt.  But don’t worry, the thief was chased down and apprehended by Brady himself.  Following is a slide show of the still pictures I took as it all unfolded:

Once the five Patriots said, “Play ball!” the game was underway.  Rick Porcello picked up right where he left off at the end of the ‘16 season, retiring the side in order in the first on just 11 pitches.  In the second, the Pirates got their first baserunner, who was promptly gunned down by Sandy Leon as he tried to steal.  “He’s not even our best defensive catcher!” I yelled, not as a slight to Sandy, who’s a good defensive catcher in his own right, but as a compliment to Christian Vazquez on the bench.  In the fourth, Jackie Bradley made a long running catch deep into the triangle, a step shy of the bullpen, before banging into the wall.  Because it was the third out, we were able to keep cheering right into the inning break.  An inning later, at the half-way point of the game, it was still scoreless, as Pirates ace Gerrit Cole kept the Red Sox off the board.

Por-CY-llo was brilliant in the first 6 innings, and finished with a line of 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K.

Por-CY-llo was brilliant in the first 6 innings, and finished with a line of 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K.

One small change at Fenway this year is that the dugouts go three feet further out than before. That's enough room to put a second bench in behind the first step, but most players spent the game leaning against the railing.

One small change at Fenway this year is that the dugouts go three feet further out than before. That's enough room to put a second bench in behind the first step, but most players spent the game leaning against the railing.

Another change is the new video board in the right field roof area where the Cumberland Farms sign used to be. It was really helpful to me in the left field grandstand, because I was so far back that that was the only board I could see.  It had batter/pitcher info like the side one in center over the camera area.

Another change is the new video board in the right field roof area where the Cumberland Farms sign used to be. It was really helpful to me in the left field grandstand, because I was so far back that it was the only board I could see. It had batter/pitcher info like the side one in center field over the camera area.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox put together a rally.  JBJ hit a two-out triple, and then Pablo Sandoval beat out an infield hit to drive in the first run.  Sandy Leon followed with a bunt toward an unmanned third base, and made it safely to first.  Dustin Pedroia singled in the second run, and then Andrew Benintendi blasted a three-run homer into the visitors’ bullpen.

Andrew Benintendi provided the big offensive blast of the day.  He still qualifies as a rookie, and wasted no time getting started on making his case for Rookie of the Year.

Andrew Benintendi provided the big offensive blast of the day. He still qualifies as a rookie, and wasted no time getting started on making his case for Rookie of the Year.

Xander Bogaerts had a good day at the plate, too.  He had two hits and two stolen bases.  That puts him on pace for 324 SB; Opening Day math is fun!

Xander Bogaerts had a good day at the plate. He had two hits and two stolen bases. That puts him on pace for 324 SB - Opening Day math is fun!

Porcello got a nice ovation as he walked off the field in the top of the seventh.

Porcello got a nice ovation as he walked off the field in the top of the seventh.

Powered by the five-run fifth, all the Red Sox had to do was hold the lead.  Matt Barnes got the final two outs of the seventh, although he did let a couple of inherited runners score.  Robby Scott came in to start the eighth, threw one pitch which was grounded to second for the first out of the inning, and then gave way to Heath Hembree for the next two outs.  In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel put two runners on, but struck out two, before getting the final out on a foul popup to first.  With that, the Red Sox showed that they had good pitching, good defense, and just enough timely hitting to win games in the post-Ortiz era.  All that was left was to see whether “Win Dance Repeat,” the outfielders’ celebratory dance, would return in some form for the new season.  Here’s the latest version of their victory moves:

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