The Boston Red Sox had won just one time in six games when they played their home opener a year ago. This season they open Fenway Park atop the American League East standings and will kick off the home portion of their schedule on Monday in the opener of a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles.
Boston's quick start continued on Sunday, as Will Middlebrooks hit three home runs on a near-perfect 4-of-5 batting effort to go along with four RBI, helping the Red Sox to a 13-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Mike Napoli also hit home runs for the Red Sox, who convincingly claimed their second straight series of the season and are off to their best start since beginning 6-1 to open 2006.
Middlebrooks, who became the first player this season to hit three homers in one game, also became the first Red Sox player to accomplish the feat since Dustin Pedroia (June 24th, 2010).
Jon Lester (2-0) tossed seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball and added six strikeouts with no walks.
"Good Lord," Lester said. "About 2,000 feet of homers it seemed like. He obviously feels pretty good at the plate. It's fun to watch when we're on that side of it."
Getting the call for the Red Sox on Monday will be righty Clay Buchholz, who was impressive in his season debut last Tuesday against the New York Yankees. Buchholz allowed just a run and six hits in seven innings to get the win.
Buchholz has faced the Orioles 14 times (13 starts) and is 7-3 with a 3.54 ERA. He's 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in six career home starts against the Orioles
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with Taiwanese righty Wei-Yin Chen, who was also effective in his season opener against Tampa Bay. Chen didn't get a win, but surrendered two runs and seven hits in an 8-7 loss.
Chen beat the Red Sox the final two teams he faced them last season, pitching to a 1.38 ERA in the process.
"We've got to go out there - we have got Chen throwing (Monday) - and spoil their opening day," outfielder Adam Jones said. "The more people, the more you want to shut them up. That's how I look at it. I don't care, they can stand up the whole game. They do anyway. But when you can silence 40,000 people, it's pretty cool."
The Orioles limp into Fenway after losing the final two games of their three- game set with the Minnesota Twins, including a 4-3 setback in Sunday's finale.
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer and Nick Markakis had two hits and one RBI for Baltimore, which scored all three runs in the second inning. Starter Jason Hammel (1-1) was tagged for four runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out three batters in his second start of the season.
"We had some people out there, just couldn't get a hit," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "Hits were at a premium today."
Baltimore dominated the Red Sox last season, taking 13 of the 18 matchups.