Red Sox smash Orioles in 13-2 Opening Day rout

With a 60-game season, there’s little room for error, and Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke has emphasized throughout summer camp the need to get off to a good start, or face long odds of playing in October.

Friday night, his players were certainly listening.

Even in a season as strange this one, at least two things were strong likelihoods going into it: The Red Sox offense would be powerful, and the Orioles would occupy the basement of the AL East again. Both took shape in Friday’s season opener as the Red Sox bats teed off on the Orioles with a franchise record eight Opening Day doubles in a 13-2 demolition at Fenway Park.

“If you look at what this lineup is very capable of doing, it can be scary,” J.D. Martinez said.

It sure was Friday, and it was about as perfect of an opener as the Red Sox could have drawn it up as they moved to 1-0. Here’s how it happened:

J.D. Martinez wasted no time, and looks like he loves the No. 2 hole: Roenicke surprised some in Tuesday’s exhibition when he plugged Martinez, normally the Red Sox’ cleanup hitter, into the second spot in the order. The idea was to put a right-handed bat behind Andrew Benintendi at the top of the lineup, and so far, it’s worked.

The Sox’ designated hitter looked very comfortable for the role, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI in the rout. His second two-bagger of the night, an opposite-field shot to deep right with the bases loaded, came just a few feet away from going for a grand slam. It fell on to the warning track and bounced into the empty seats for a ground-rule double. Martinez, so far, is embracing his new position in the lineup.

“I mean, not complaining,” Martinez said. “Came up twice with the bases loaded. So far, so good. But definitely different. That’s for sure. Not used to it. I feel like I was always getting ready to hit. I feel like I was always on the verge of coming up. I’m not really used to getting six at-bats in a night.”

Martinez has been vocal in the past about his disdain for spring training because it takes him so long to get his swing back, but he hasn’t had any issues since the team returned the COVID-19 shutdown. He looked strong in summer camp and carried that over to Friday. Martinez attributed that to some work he did during the downtime, but said he’s even surprising himself.

“I am honestly. I would be lying if I wasn’t,” Martinez said. “I found something that kind of works a little bit. Like I said, I was able to, during spring training, really figure out exactly what I wanted to work on. Then the coronavirus offseason hit I was able to go back and work on those things.”

The new guys can stay: Almost everybody was hitting, but Kevin Pillar and Jose Peraza each had particular impressive nights in their Red Sox debuts. The two combined to go 7-for-10 with three doubles and five RBI to go along with good defense.

Roenicke has been impressed with Peraza since the team’s return to camp, even once describing his swing as “unbelievable” after the second baseman made some minor tweaks to it during the COVID-19 shutdown. That was on display Friday as he hit a pair of doubles — driving in the season’s first run with a two-bagger to left before hitting one off The Wall in the seventh. Always sure-handed, Peraza also turned a nice double play in the third.

“The changes that he made in his swing, carried over to the first part where we played the intrasquad games, right into the Toronto series and right into this Opening Day,” Roenicke said. “All that is very important when you’re working and making changes.”

With a lefty starting for the Orioles, the right-handed Pillar got the start over Alex Verdugo and made an immediate impact, making a nice catch deep in right for the game’s first out. His two-run double in the fourth made it 4-0.

Pillar, who signed with the Red Sox at the start of spring training, figures to get quality playing time if he performs like he did Friday.

“I still have to figure out how we’re going to rotate the outfielders, the four outfielders,” Roenicke said. “It’s not necessarily rotation I shouldn’t say, but he’s going to be out there as much as we can get him out there. And when he swings the bat this well I certainly would like to have him out there as much as he can.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. has a hot start: If this is the Bradley the Red Sox are getting in 2020, watch out.

Always elite in center, always streaky at the plate, Bradley is entering a crucial year in his career, as he can enter free agency after the season. The center fielder went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI, including the Red Sox’ first hit of the season when he laced one to the left-field corner to lead off the third, which set a string of four doubles in the inning.

Bradley, who looked strong at the plate during camp, always seems to have at least one good month every year, and Friday could be the start of something big for him.

“It felt great,” Bradley said. “It felt good to actually stick with the plan and to execute it, so when you finally get pitches that you can handle, obviously executing is the most important part and I was able to do that tonight.”

More: Red Sox smash Orioles in 13-2 Opening Day rout