Opening Day in Major League Baseball has arrived, and a nearly full schedule that sees 26 of the 30 MLB teams in action Monday, features the World Series champion Boston Red Sox opening their campaign for a repeat title — which would be the Boston club’s fourth World Series victory in 11 seasons.
The Red Sox send 30-year-old lefty Jon Lester to the mound in Baltimore for a 3:05 pm Eastern Time game against their American League East division rivals, the Orioles. Lester will be gunning for the 101st win of his career, now entering its ninth season.
Lester was also the Red Sox Opening Day starter in 2013, when Boston beat their arch-rival New York Yankees on the way to a worst-to-first season that saw the Red Sox win 97 games under new manager John Farrell after finishing in last place with 69 wins in 2012 under Bobby Valentine.
The Orioles give the Opening Day start to 25-year-old righthander Chris Tillman, following the best season of his five years in MLB. Tillman ended 2013 with a 16-7 record and solid 3.71 ERA as the Orioles finished in a tie with the Yankees for third place in the AL East at 85 wins.
“You want to set the tone for the rest of the guys,” said Lester ahead of his Opening Day start. “You don’t want to be that weak link in the chain. You want to go out there and get these guys off on the right foot.”
Lester has defeated Baltimore 15 times in his career against just three losses.
In the offseason, the the Red Sox lost their starting center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury when the speedy outfielder defected to the hated Yankees as a free agent.
But the Red Sox may have hit paydirt in finding a replacement for Ellsbury when they signed former Cleveland Indians three-time All-Star Grady Sizemore. Once considered among the MLB elite, Sizemore, 31, missed the last two full seasons with injuries and the Red Sox were not expecting much from him. But a stellar Spring Training in which he appeared fully healthy earned Sizemore a place in the Red Sox Opening Day starting lineup.
Among 12 other Opening Day matchups, the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals visit the Cincinnati Reds, the Atlanta Braves face the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee and in west coast Monday night games, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim host the Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians open on the road against the Oakland A’s.
The lone Opening Day inter-league game pits the Philadelphia Phillies against the Texas Rangers in Texas.
All MLB Opening Day MLB games can be seen live on line via MLB.TV and the MLB At Bat app, but a paid subscription is required. Local broadcast and cable TV outlets cover all of the games on television.
The only teams not in action Monday are the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres who played their own Opening Day game Sunday night — and the New York Yankees and Houston Astros who start their 2014 campaigns Tuesday in Houston.