Andrew Benintendi makes John Farrell's lineup look smart


BOSTON -- How dare Xander Bogaerts bat sixth and Andrew Benintendi second, some said. The former was an All-Star, the latter's just a rookie.


It was OK on Day 1, now, wasn't it?

Presumptive American League Rookie of the Year Andrew Benintendi hit the Sox’ first home run of 2017 in a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, delivering the big blow in a five-run fifth inning Monday afternoon at Fenway, a three-run shot.

Entering his second season but still technically a rookie, Benintendi bulked up some over the winter, adding 15-20 pounds to a small frame and sweet swing — and it paid off, for both him and manager John Farrell. Farrell showed confidence in Benintendi by putting him in the two-hole to start the season, and Benintendi didn't disappoint.

With two out in the fifth, the left fielder drilled a 2-and-2 belt-high fastball from Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole out to right field, into the visitor’s bullpen. That put the Sox ahead 5-0.

"Fastball in. I thought the wind was going to hold it up a little bit," Benintendi said. "I was fortunate enough for it to go over."

Benintendi pointed toward his parents in the stands as he rounded the bases.

The rally began with the bottom of the lineup up with none on and two out. Cole, throwing 99 mph at times on Fenway’s radar gun, was cruising when Jackie Bradley Jr. smoked a triple off the wall in right field, just barely missing a home run.

That brought up Pablo Sandoval in Sandoval’s first big spot on what just might be a redemption tour.

Sandoval didn’t exactly smoke one, hitting a grounder the other way, into the hole on the left side. But these days, he’s just fast enough to leg such a hit out.

With a stroke (bunt?) of brilliance facing an overshift, Sandy Leon dropped one down for another single, putting two on for Dustin Pedroia.

"He’s a guy that’s going to get a number of shifts against (him), particularly left-handed," Farrell said of his switch-hitting catcher. "It’s something he did a couple of times in spring training. That’s an attack on Sandy’s part that he’s worked on and it worked here today."

Pedroia’s RBI-single plated Sandoval from second for a 2-0 lead and set up Benintendi’s shot.

Benintendi also made a key defensive play in the seventh, snaring a bases-loaded line drive that seemed destined to sail over his head.

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