A pair of southpaw relievers with big-league experience impressed for the Pawtucket Red Sox, but the Lehigh Valley IronPigs combined on a two-hitter in a 3-1 win over the PawSox in Saturday's season opener at a chilly McCoy Stadium.
After Friday's scheduled season opener was postponed due to snowfall, each team scored a run in the third inning. The IronPigs (1-0) then pushed across a pair of runs in the fourth, including an unearned tally, and rode an effective bullpen to the win in the opener. The PawSox (0-1) coaxed a half-dozen walks but only scratched out singles in the third and sixth innings. Five Pawtucket pitchers - starter Justin Haley and relievers Kyle Martin, Roenis Elias, Robby Scott and Ryan Brasier - combined to allow just three hits, but the IronPigs found enough offense to hand Pawtucket just its second Opening Day loss in the last 13 years.
Elias, in particular, mixed arm angles and shined in three hitless innings of relief, piling up four strikeouts and only yielding a pair of baserunners (both hit by pitches). After injuries slowed his 2017 season, the Cuban southpaw began 2018 with an efficient 42-pitch performance. Scott followed Elias in the eighth inning and set down the IronPigs 1-2-3 with a pair of punchouts.
Out of the second spot in the order, PawSox shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and saw 22 pitches in his four plate appearances. Pawtucket third baseman Iván De Jesús Jr., now in his third stint in the Red Sox organization, walked and singled, driving in the team's only run in the third inning.
Lehigh Valley starter Zach Eflin (W, 1-0), a former supplemental first-round selection of the Padres, yielded just one hit in five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts. Veteran reliever Pedro Beato (S, 1), who led all of Minor League Baseball in saves last season, fanned the side in order in the ninth to secure the victory.
Pawtucket starter Justin Haley ceded just one run in 2.2 innings but ran into trouble in a 39-pitch third inning. Right-handed reliever Kyle Martin (L, 0-1) gave up a pair of runs - one earned - in 1.1 innings.
Lehigh Valley struck first in the top of the third when designated hitter Danny Ortiz lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to reel in catcher Logan Moore, who worked a leadoff walk on 11 pitches.
The PawSox tied the game, 1-1, in the home half of the third, as De Jesús pulled a hard-hit single through the hole on the left side to plate catcher Dan Butler from second.
In the fourth, the IronPigs loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, a Pawtucket error and a walk. Lehigh Valley No. 9 hitter and shortstop Alexi Amarista then yanked a two-run single through the right side to make it 3-1.
The PawSox conclude the abbreviated two-game series Sunday at 1:35 p.m. Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz (flexor strain), who posted a 3.32 ERA in 32 starts with Boston in 2017, will make a rehab start opposite IronPigs right-hander Tom Eshelman (10-3, 2.23 in 2017). The game will be broadcast on myRITV, and radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM and 104.7 FM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 1:05 p.m.
The homestand runs through Wednesday. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.