It’s 2:36 on Opening Day, and already we have our first “Second-guess Jim Leyland” moment.
With two runners on to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, Leyland essentially took the bat out of the hands of one of his best hitters, Alex Avila.
I get the reasoning for a bunt: First scoring chance, runs at a premium, tough lefty on the mound.
But with Ramon Santiago up next — and with Avila typically holding his own against lefties; in the first inning, he smashed a liner to right — I just don’t get it.
Granted, it’s easy not to get since it didn’t work out. Avila took the first pitch, which was called a strike even though it appeared a touch outside. He then missed his bunt stab on the second pitching, putting him in an 0-2 hole.
He struck out on a 2-2 fastball from Lester.
(For clarity: I am not excusing Avila. You still have to get the bunt down; it’s worked on endlessly in spring straining.)
Santiago followed with a pop-up to second base, and Austin Jackson flew out to right (after getting ahead in the count, 3-0) to end the inning. So it’s still 0-0 heading to the top of the sixth.
Ryan Raburn led off the inning with a single, and Jhonny Peralta walked.
Due up for the Red Sox in the top of the sixth: Aviles, Ellsbury, Pedroia.