You can't read too deeply into opening day results. Even though we realize how small a sample size a single baseball game is, the first one played in six months always manages to make us overreact.
That said – David Price reminded his new team and fans in emphatic fashion what it's like to have an ace.
Price struck out 10 Cleveland Indians batters in the first six innings of his 7-year, $217 million contract. He walked two and gave up a pair of runs in the 6–2 victory, but he showed exactly what fans already knew he was capable of doing – benching the opposition. After manager John Farrell made the mistake of quipping that the 2015 Red Sox had "five aces," Jon Lester has finally been replaced by something even better than Jon Lester.
To boot, the bullpen came through with three great innings as Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel relieved Price. Kimbrel allowed a walk, the only baserunner after the starter left.
Offensively, the Sox were stellar, chasing Cleveland ace Corey Kluber after 5.1 innings with nine hits, two walks and four earned runs. Rising star Mookie Betts clobbered a 2-run homer off him in the third. David Ortiz hit his final opening day home run off Trevor Bauer in the ninth inning, providing the team with two insurance runs.
After a disastrous 2015, Hanley Ramirez, now a first baseman, started the new season on a high note with successfully aggressive baserunning, two hits, a walk and a very deep fly.
But this was one out of 162. What can be expected from the rest of the rotation remains to be seen over the coming months – and it might not be pretty. Ramirez rapidly hit 11 homers last year before imploding in every possible way.
Even Price's 10 K's came against a relatively weak lineup.
The past, not six innings of work, is what teaches us that Price is one baseball's best pitchers. Instead of focusing on the litany of strikeouts – which were obviously great – let's focus on the fact that since 2011, according to Fangraphs, Clayton Kershaw is the only pitcher who has been worth more wins above replacement than Price. And that by the same metric, 2015 was his very best season, followed closely by 2014.
But let's also focus on the sad fact that you don't have five David Prices, and that a lot of the team's success will rely on the rest of the rotation.
Instead of focusing on Betts' homer and his amazing catch, let's focus on the 23-year-old's incredibly well-rounded skills and his excellent, consistent performance across levels of minor and major league ball.
Instead of focusing on David Ortiz launching his farewell season with an opening day homer, let's focus on the 503 that preceded it and the fact that despite stretches of ineffectiveness, he has appeared ageless and remained a dangerous power hitter still capable of beating up anything thrown over the plate.
OK, what the hell. Focus on the lore a little. Of course that was a tremendous start to the final chapter of Big Papi's story.