Betts foot forward: Red Sox dominate Nationals

Betts foot forward: Red Sox dominate Nationals

BOSTON -- The Red Sox simply couldn't have scripted a better home opener than the one they had on Monday against the Washington Nationals. Playing under bright sun and unseasonably mild temperatures, the home team clicked in just about every way during a 9-4 victory.

Mookie Betts robbed Bryce Harper of a homer, stole two bases in one sequence and clubbed a three-run homer. David Ortiz added two hits, including a homer over the Green Monster in left-center. Catcher Sandy Leon, acquired from the Nationals late in Spring Training, produced three hits against his former team. Pablo Sandoval added two hits and had a nice play at third base in his first home game for Boston.

From the mound, Rick Porcello protected the lead his offense gave him, holding Washington to four hits and four runs (three earned) over eight innings. It was Porcello's first win for Boston. After getting drilled by the Yankees, 14-4, on Sunday night, the Red Sox didn't get home until the wee hours of Monday morning. But they found the energy they needed.

"We had a rough night last night, but we got in and came in this morning and everybody had energy somehow and we were ready to go," said Betts.

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a tough afternoon, giving up nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) over 2 1/3 innings.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Marvelous Mookie: Betts seems to have an affinity for openers. In Boston's season opener one week ago, Betts belted a homer. The center fielder put on a clinic in this one, and he created excitement early in the game when he perfectly timed his jump to take a two-run homer away from Harper in the top of the first. The three-run homer that Betts ripped over the Monster in the second made it a 4-0 game.

"The first two or three innings, Mookie took the game over single-handedly, it seemed like," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. More >

Porcello's six strikeouts

Porcello goes deep in win: Perhaps the most important thing Porcello did on Monday aside from winning was giving the Red Sox eight innings. Their bullpen still feeling the after-effects of Friday's 19-inning win over the Yankees, the extended performance was just what they needed. More >

Leon's RBI single

Shoddy defense for Washington: The box score said the Nationals committed one error in the game, but they had a tough time catching the ball all afternoon. In the third inning, Mike Napoli hit a fly ball to left-center field. It looked like Michael Taylor had a bead on the ball, but it dropped in for a single. Napoli would later score on a single by Betts. Later in the inning, Leon hit what looked like a fly ball to right-center field. Harper and Taylor had no idea who would make the catch and the ball fell in for an RBI hit. More >

Zimmermann has rough day: The right-hander had one of the worst games of his career, as his ERA skyrocketed from 1.50 to 8.64. He even hit two batters in the game. Zimmermann declined to use the lack of defense as an excuse.In fact, he said he had a tough time gripping the baseball.

"Yeah, I mean, I was bad today. It's not like me to walk a guy and hit two guys and I just didn't have a feel for the ball and really had no clue where it was going all day," he said. "My mechanics were fine. I was rubbing the ball up, and after I'd rub it up, it would still feel chalky. It was just not a good day for me." More >

QUOTABLE
"Hopefully it means a hard, cold winter is once and for all behind everyone. The warm weather is upon us. I spent a majority of the winter here and can empathize to a certain point to what everyone in New England dealt with and the challenges that were presented. -- Red Sox manager Farrell, on the Red Sox coming home after a long, harsh winter of record-setting snow on Boston

"It was about as bad as you can get. It's tough to win ballgames if you can't catch the baseball. We have to do better than that. It's not shocking to have a pitcher who doesn't have a good day, but you if you don't help him, it makes the day even worst."-- Nationals manager Matt Williams

Nationals challenge safe calls

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Not only did Betts steal two bases on one play, but he was almost out both times. Therefore, that left Williams in the rare position to challenge two plays at once. However, after a review of approximately three minutes, both calls stood.

Frates signs contract with Sox

CEREMONIAL START
Per usual, the Red Sox provided their fans with an elaborate Opening Day ceremony that seemed to hit all the right notes. Tom Brady, fresh off leading the Patriots to another Super Bowl championship in February, fired the ceremonial first pitch to Ortiz. Big Papi scooped Brady's throw out of the dirt, completing the exchange between two players who have combined to win seven championships. The most emotional moment came when the Red Sox presented former Boston College captain Pete Frates with a ceremonial contract. Frates, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2012, helped create the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer which raised millions.

"Awesome," Ortiz said of the moment to honor Frates. "It caught everybody off guard. But I think it was outstanding what the organization did, especially for a guy like him. It's like a dream come true for him, and we all are really proud of him." More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Red Sox: Justin Masterson makes his first home start for the Red Sox since 2009 in Game 2 of this three-game set on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET. Masterson was impressive in his first start of the season last week in Philadelphia, striking out seven over six strong innings to earn the win.

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg will face the Red Sox for the second time in his career.In his only start against them, Strasburg allowed two runs in six innings. He needs to find a way to stop Hanley Ramirez, who is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run and two RBIs against the right-hander.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.