Initiating the season by taking two out of three in Texas is an auspicious start indeed.
Trot Nixon's two run homer in the seventh provided all the offense the Sox needed (and it's a good thing because it was the only offense the team could muster), while Josh Beckett - seemingly on will alone - managed to surrender just a single run on a night when he clearly didn't have his best repertoire of pitches.
In the seventh, Beckett struck out the final batter he faced with a 95 mph fastball to wrap up his first start as a member of the Red Sox. It was a fine inauguration, and should serve as the perfect ice breaker for the 25-year-old when he pitches the Fenway opener next Tuesday.
Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless eighth, thanks to a fine defensive play.
Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek combined to throw out Mark Texiera at home on a Kevin Mench single to left. It was the critical defensive play of the evening, and prevented the Rangers from tying the game.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the emergence of Jonathan Papelbon from the bullpen in the ninth. Some might say there is a closer's controversy brewing in Boston, but it looks like the case may be closed. Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 final frame - including two punch outs - to complete the Sox victory.
Rangers' starter Kameron Loe frustrated Sox hitters through the first five innings, surrendering only two singles to Mark Loretta. But then came Nixon's blast that put the Sox ahead for good. In all, Loe surrendered only six hits, but Nixon's was the crushing blow to his otherwise splendid night. In fact, Loe gave up fewer hits than Beckett (7) in the same number of innings, but Beckett had five k's and just one walk, keeping the Rangers' hitters off balance and off the scoreboard after the first. Beyond that initial frame, only one runner made it as far as third. In fact, of the seven hits that Beckett surrendered, three were infield singles.
The most upbeat scenario for the Red Sox is that a 25-year-old pitcher got the win, and another 25-year-old got the save - the first of his Major League career. That's something to celebrate, and something to look forward to for the rest of this season.