Red Sox

First impressions from the first game: Sox look good in 6-2 win

First impressions from the first game: Sox look good in 6-2 win

CLEVELAND -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over Cleveland on Opening Day:

1) David Price's first start for the Red Sox was essentially everything you would want it to be -- though the 103 pitches and cold weather limited him to six innings.

Price struck out 10 -- nearly matching a franchise record for most strikeouts on Opening Day -- and allowed just five hits, all singles. The Indians didn't hit many balls hard against him.

He nicely worked out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the second with a flyout and two strikeouts.

The Indians reached Price for two runs in the fourth when it appeared as though an 11-pitch at-bat with former Sox first baseman Mike Napoli seemed to take a lot out of him. After getting Napoli on a called third strike, Price labored through the rest of the inning, yielding three singles and a sacrifice fly before finally ending the inning by fanning Collin Cowgill.

It turned out to be a 34-pitch inning.

Price righted himself after that, with just one Indians batter reaching over the final eight that faced him.

Efficiency was about the only thing missing from his debut.

2) Price's pitch count forced him from the game after six innings, leaving the Red Sox bullpen with nine outs to record.

The seventh inning was supposed to belong to Carson Smith, but he's on the DL with a right flexor strain. So Junichi Tazawa got the seventh, and was sharp, retiring the Indians 1-2-3 on just 12 pitches with two strikeouts.

Tazawa looked spent in the second half of last after a few seasons with a big workload.

He's looked fresh this spring, but the Sox will need to manage his innings carefully in the early going, especially until Smith returns.

Overall, the bullpen was almost perfect. Tazawa was followed by Koji Uehara (a 1-2-3 inning) and Craig Kimbrel (one walk allowed).

3) A small, perhaps unappreciated part of the Red Sox' two-run sixth:

Hanley Ramirez led off with a single, and when Travis Shaw singled to right, Ramirez used some hustle to go from first-to-third, from where he easily scored on a single by Brock Holt.

Last year, Ramirez was sometimes guilty of thinking he was still the baserunner who used to rack up stolen bases. But his aggressiveness on the bases -- if properly channeled -- can be good a thing, especially now that he's lighter and a little more athletic.

On the other hand, when Ramirez sliced an opposite-field single in the ninth, he should have gotten a double out of it, but stopped at first.

4) In the seventh, the Red Sox loaded the bases and Terry Francona went to lefty Ross Detwiler, who got Travis Shaw looking and retired Brock Holt on a soft liner to third, stranding three.

The bottom half of the Red Sox lineup is loaded with lefties -- Shaw, Holt, switch-hitter Blake Swihart and lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. constitute the last four in the order. That could make them vulnerable to opposing bullpens, with managers knowing they can bring in a lefty and only risk Swihart hitting from the right side.

It's not like John Farrell is going to pinch-hit Rusney Castillo for Holt, and he surely is unlikely to hit Pablo Sandoval -- who has struggled mightily from the right side -- for Shaw.

Something to keep an eye on, for now.

5) Mookie Betts seems to like Opening Day.

He's appeared in just two in his brief career, and homered both times -- last year in Philadelphia and again Tuesday in Cleveland. His two-run homer in the third gave the Sox a 2-0 lead.

He later added a single in the fifth, and turned in a terrific leaping catch in the bottom of the fifth when he robbed Rajai Davis of extra bases by going up to a grab a liner that seemed in danger of sailing over his head.

Betts is one of just five players in the last 20 years who have two Opening Day homers before the age of 23. The other four are pretty fair players: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward and Andruw Jones.

6) All spring, David Ortiz talked about how spring training wasn't a good indicator for him, and that he would be ready when the real games started.

And so it was.

Ortiz had an opposite-field double in the third, then cranked a pitch from Trevor Bauer into the seats in right in the ninth for his first homer of the season and 504th of his career, tying him with Eddie Murray for 26th all-time.

Throughout spring training, Ortiz didn't have an extra-base hit until he doubled with about a week to go. And he didn't homer until his final spring at-bat -- in true dramatic fashion for him.

As Ortiz jogged around the bases in the ninth, the red hood from his sweatshirt flapped in the cold breeze, looking more than a little like Superman's cape.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.