Defense lets Sox down. From the start of spring training, manager Alex Cora vowed that improved defense would be a priority, with extra attention paid to drills to achieve that. But in Game 1, the Sox proceeded to beat themselves with some sloppy play in the field. Rafael Devers skipped a couple of throws to first base, and was saved by Bobby Dalbec, who scooped a couple of balls from the dirt. But there was no saving Kiké Hernández who arrived with the reputation of being a super defender at second. Hernandez, however, couldn't handle a hot smash in the sixth inning, and very quickly, the game went from being a scoreless tie to the Orioles scoring twice -- due, in large part, because of the error by Hernandez.
Offense shuttered: John Means is the Orioles' best starter, but the Red Sox made him look like some cross between Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor in Friday's opener. Means allowed a leadoff single in the first, then didn't allow another hit over seven shutout innings. Spotting his changeup effectively, Means stayed out of the middle of the plate and didn't allow many hard-hit balls all afternoon. "He was in control of the whole situation,'' conceded Cora. "We didn't do much offensively. We didn't make many adjustments.'' That's an understatement -- after Devers reached on an error in the second, Means retired the last 18 hitters in succession before being lifted. Cora said as the game wore on, the Sox seemed to get caught up in the Opening Day atmosphere, trying to kickstart something offensively, only to expand the strike zone.