Jackie Bradley Jr. Owned the Red Sox Opening Day Win

The 22-year-old rookie played one game, and suddenly, Boston is full of hope again.

For the first time since 2010, the Red Sox won on Opening Day. Boston beat the Yankees, 8-2, in the Bronx. But really, the afternoon belonged to Jackie Bradley Jr. In his major league debut, the 22-year-old outfielder went 0-for-2, but drove in a run, scored two runs, and most impressively, walked three times. During the game, Twitter hung on the rookie’s every move.

In a way, it was refreshing. Following the Red Sox over the past few seasons has been a painful experience. For the time being, Bradley is an antidote to all that. Hell, on Monday, Dan Shaughnessy, Mr. Warmth himself, had a column titled “Jackie Bradley finally offers Red Sox hope.” (He followed that up with another one, about Bradley’s Opening Day performance.)

Now’s the time for all the requisite disclaimers about Bradley. I realize it’s extremely early. Who knows if he’s bound for stardom, or whether he’ll even stick with the Red Sox for the entire season. But at the very least, Bradley will be fun to watch. He displayed great plate discipline on Monday (over the course of five at bats, he saw 26 pitches) and even though it wasn’t exactly the most graceful thing, made a nice catch in left. Here’s how Rob Bradford of WEEI.com described it:

Cano lofted an opposite field fly ball toward the wall, sending Bradley sailing back. At the last minute, just before arriving at the warning track, the outfielder adjusted his body, reversing course, and hauled in what would have been a run for the hosts.

“I knew right off the bat it was going to be over my head,” he remembered. “It was one of those balls where you run back and pick a spot where you think it’s going to land. I work on that quite a bit often. I happened to look back up at the right time and there it was, coming right at me.”

For the first time in recent memory, the lead up to a Red Sox-Yankees series wasn’t dominated by talk of the rivalry. It was a bit odd. It’s been a while since expectations have been this low for both teams. (The doom and gloom isn’t limited to Boston, either. The latest New Yorker cover features an illustration that mocks the aging Yankees.) By the end of Opening Day, Yankee Stadium was literally empty. For now, at least we have Bradley to stave off that kind of apathy. Here’s hoping that over the next couple weeks he pulls off a few of these: