The Red Sox are opening the regular season in Japan, and because we missed baseball so much, and we’re masochists, we decided to wake up early and bring you all the action. After the jump, the running account of the Red Sox and the A’s.
Bottom 10: Papelbon’s in and he’s got the glare going. Reed again with the wandering zone. Paps has a good battle going here with Daric Barton and he walks him.
Oakland’s making Papelbon work for it here, but he blows a fastball by Cust for the first out. Four K’s for the pride of Flemington, NJ. Thank you Emil Brown. In addition to playing JV defense he just ran himself into the second out. Brown ripped a double to right but he got hung up between second and third. Just brutal.
Bobby Crosby just singled to center. Brown would have scored on that. Paps is struggling. Another base hit. This is a little too exciting.
And we’re done. Phew. Paps got Kurt Suzuki to ground out for the final out. Four hours after we began the Sox are 1-0. There will not be a repeat tomorrow.
Top 10: Street’s back out there for more. Lugo just tried the back out while the pitcher is in the warmup trick and didn’t get time. I really wish he’d stop doing that. Almost a nice play by Hannahan but Lugo reaches on an infield single.
Pedroia gets the bunt down. Not pretty, but effective. Youk goes down swinging on a high fastball. It’s the first time of the year to answer the eternal question: Walk Ortiz? They do. I think this is a bad idea. (I love it when I’m right).
For some odd reason Lugo just tried to steal third. With two outs. But Manny fouled it off. Manny just missed a home run, but it goes high off the wall and two runs scored. Of course, Manny admired his work for a while (must be a Zen thing) a la Cleveland. He still made it to second. Two doubles and four RBI’s for Manny.
Another ex-Sock takes the mound as Lenny DiNardo makes his way into the game. Bad outing for Huston Street. If he can’t make it this year Oakland’s in trouble. DiNardo intentionally walks Lowell to get to Moss. Big game for Moss, obviously. I hope the kid gets a chance to play somewhere. He doesn’t deserve to spend another summer in Pawtucket, lovely as it is. OK, onto the bottom of the 10th.
Bottom 9: It’s Okajima time. All things considered this has been a well-played game, especially under the circumstances. Oki’s getting a rousing ovation as he warms up. Remy just noted that Oki got a better reception than Dice-K, which makes sense considering the Tokyo Dome is his home ballpark.
Okajima just made Kurt Suzuki looked silly for the first out. I forgot how slow he works though. It’s like waiting to come back from one of those 3-minute commercial breaks during the NCAA Tournament between pitches. Meh, 4-pitch walk to Mike Sweeney. Is Billy trying to bring back the 2006 Royals?
Another ball dies on the track for the second out. Here comes Ellis again and NESN just got me on one of those replays where you’re not sure if it’s live. Damn you NESN.
Oki just got a gift strike from Rick Reed. No one really knows where the zone is right now. Oki gets out of it and we’re going to the 10th. This seemed like a good idea at the time.
Top 9: Lowell pops out to shallow center for the first out. This would be a great spot for J.D. Drew, who is out with back spasms. Huston Street is downright nasty. They don’t throw change-ups like that at Pawtucket. Holy s%&$! Brandon Moss goes deep. Didn’t see that one coming. JD who?
Varitek waves at one for the second out. 3K’s and a double-play for Tek. Jacoby put a charge into one, just foul. And we’re going to the bottom of the ninth.
Bottom 8: Interesting factoids there. The Sox are 1-6 in their last seven opening days and the last time they had the same 2B, SS combo was Jody Reed and Marty Barrett. We’re back to “Sweet Caroline.” I don’t have as big a problem with the Neil Diamond classic as others, but would it kill the Mets to get their own damn song?
Wow! Great catch by Jacoby going up against the wall to rob Emil Brown. Baseball Prospectus was down on his defense in their annual preview, but he looked Coco-esque on that one.
Bryan Corey makes quick work of the A’s in the eighth, and we head to the ninth. Lowell, Moss, and Varitek due up.
Top 8: Here’s Foulke. This will be interesting. He has to get Youk, Ortiz, and Manny. The A’s are going to use Justin Ducsherer as a starter this year, so Foulke is a major piece for the A’s.
Youk puts a charge into one, but it dies at the track. My NESN HD is being flighty right now. Settle down. Ortiz hits a fly ball to left and Brown takes an unusual route. Someone put a tent on that circus.
Don notes that Manny has modified his pre-swing routine. Must be a Zen thing. Caught looking. High-wire act from Foulke but he gets it done. It’s getting late in Tokyo.
Bottom 7: Snyder’s back in to face the middle of the order. Yeesh, he’s an adventure. Ellis just sent one to the track. Mercifully, that’s all for Kyle.
Nice bullpen usage by Tito. He brings in Javy Lopez and he gets the two lefties, Barton and Cust. Could have done without Snyder though. 4-3 A’s and we’re into the heart of Oakland’s bullpen. Curious to see what Huston Street has after being injured most of last year.
Top 7: Good news, bad news. Jacoby rifles a single to left-center off the lefty Embree, but Lugo hits into the easy double play. Resisting the urge to say bad things about Lugo. A Keith Foulke sighting. In recent history no one has been more unfairly vilified than Foulke. The guy practically gave away his career to help the Sox win the World Series. He makes one unfortunate comment and it’s over.
Seventh-inning stretch time. How does one say “Cracker Jack” in Japanese?
Bottom 6: Dice-K is out. 5 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, five walks, and 6 K’s. Strange outing from Dice. He was flat-out awful for the first few innings and dominant for the last three. Kyle Snyder is in, which seems a little odd.
Oh goody. An interview with a Red Sox fan. That was enlightening.
And that will be the last time Snyder is in to protect a lead. Jack Hannahan just crushed an 87 MPH fastball to right. 4-3 A’s.
Top 6: Leadoff double by Pedroia. The kid looks locked in early. And a 4-pitch walk to Youk. Blanton is all over the place, and he’s not happy with Reed. It comes and it goes.
Papi’s messing with Blanton here. Great change by Blanton. He can really pitch, and he gets the big guy on a pop-up. Manny! Two-run double for Manny, and thanks to Emil Brown playing that ball like a grenade in left Youkilis scores to tie it up. Amazing that it’s a tie game at this point.
Brandon Moss comes through with an RBI single. Oakland’s outfield defense in the corners is terrible. And Geren hooks Blanton. A quick turn of events. They’re showing the four-straight homer game against the Yanks. That never gets old.
Sweet. They had a camera on Remy walking through Japan. Hilarity will, no doubt, ensue.
Hey it’s Alan Embree. And he’s almost clean-shaven. Blanton must have hit his pitch count because it’s a little odd to bring in the lefty to turn Varitek around. The A’s are not happy with Rick Reed right now. He just screwed the Hombre on two straight fastballs, but he gets him anyway. Tek looks like he’s in late-season form. 3-2 Sox, and it’s probably bullpen time.
Bottom 5: Dice-K is back for more and a nasty cutter gets Barton for strike three. Here’s Jack Cust, the pride of Flemington, NJ, one town over from where I grew up. That helps him not at all. Back-to-back K’s for Dice-K. Thankfully, Don has shelved the “You’ve been Dice-K’d,” call. Let’s hope he keeps that one in the bag this year.
Impressive last few innings from Dice. Top of the order coming for the Sox.
Top 5: Varitek had no chance on that slider. Here’s Jacoby which begs the question: What will the Sox do with Coco? It makes tons of sense to keep him as the fourth outfielder, but will he accept that role? It’s got to be tough for him. He was great, not good, great, defensively last year and I don’t think we’ve seen the real Coco at the plate, but you can’t hold back Ellsbury.
Don Schwall is the answer to the trivia question. Of course he is.
Blanton is cruising. There’s nothing cute about him, he gets the ball and he throws it for strikes. You have to think Billy Beane could get a nice haul for him if he chooses. Something tells me if Rich Harden is able to stay healthy (a big if, granted) Billy might sit tight with Blanton and see what develops.
Bottom 4: Dice-K looks like a completely different pitcher. 1-2-3 for the first time. It took him three innings, but he’s finally settling in, throwing strikes with his off-speed pitches. All things considered, the Sox have to feel good about only being down a couple of runs. 83 pitches through 4.
Top 4: Don is rocking a kimono. He calls it his happy coat. Nice. Did Remy just say he has a tattoo on his back?
According to ESPN, Dice-K has thrown 75 pitches, 38 for strikes. Through 3, Blanton has thrown just 39 pitches. Is it still spring training for him too?
That might be the most obscure Aflac trivia question ever. Who is the last Red Sox pitcher to start Opening Day in his second season? No clue. Another 1-2-3 for Blanton. Still 2-0, A’s.
Bottom 3: That’s more like it. Two quick outs. He’s getting squeezed again by Rick Reed. Just as I type, he gets the high and outside strike. And the walk. Dice-K won’t be long for this one.
Lugo!!! Great play by Julio gets Dice out of there. One more inning for him?
Top 3: You’d like the Sox to take a couple of pitches and give Dice-K a breather, but the problem is that Blanton is always around the plate. Remy’s explaining why Ellsbury is hitting eighth: Tito doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him. OK, I’ll buy it, so then why is Brandon Moss hitting sixth?
Lugo! That’s a good sign, but why do I get the feeling he’s going to do something stupid on the bases? That was a great at-bat by Youkilis. Kids, take note. That’s how you work a pitcher.
Chance for Big Papi here. And right into the shift. Short of tacking on a few runs that was just the inning the Sox needed. They worked Blanton and gave Dice-K a rest. Now let’s see how he responds.
Bottom 2: Leadoff single, but I’d rather have that then a walk. See how much easier it is when you get ahead? Dice-K does have great stuff, but he can’t use it if he’s constantly falling behind.
Here’s Ellis again. I covered him when he was in Single-A in Wilmington. It’s easy to say this now, but I had no doubt at the time that he was going to make the Big Leagues. He wasn’t one of KC’s top prospects, but he gave off a quiet air of confidence. He also came from a small town in South Dakota where the spring is so short there isn’t time for a high school season. He managed to impress the coaches at the University of Florida in a Legion tournament and the rest is history. It should also be noted that he is one of the nicest ballplayers I’ve ever dealt with.
Remy is getting frustrated with Dice-K too. Ah, the first Red Sox Nation promo of the year. Do you feel dirty, Jerry? Yet another walk for Dice-K and that brings out John Farrell. A Yo-yo sighting in the bullpen.
Whatever Farrell said must have worked as Dice-K rings up Daric Barton and leaves them loaded. 2-0, A’s.
Top 2: So, who had Opening Day in the J.D. Drew injury pool? 6-4-3 out of Varitek and that’ll do it. Right back on the horse for Dice-K.
Bottom 1: One pitch, one out. Eh, Mark Ellis just went deep, and Dice-K is sporting the little boy lost look again.
And a walk. Well, so far Dice-K looks no different from the guy who ended the season last year (save for the mullet). Too soon to make a judgment? Probably too soon. Wouldn’t hurt if he mixed in a strike here though.
Wow, he looks awful and Remy just threw out the “It’s still spring training for these guys,” excuse. OK, sure, but it’s late in spring training and Dice-K ought to be able to not bounce fastballs at Jack Cust’s ankles. Might be time to get Kyle Snyder loose. I hate it when it’s that time.
Now is not the time to be squeezing him, blue. Hey, nice play by Dice-K. We’ll take that exhange. And a strikeout. Dice-K is not inspiring much confidence here. 2-0 A’s.
Top 1: So, it starts with a single. Joe Blanton looks hittable, but then he always looks hittable. Let’s see if Manny is still a Bad Man. Not yet. I am interested to see what Dice-K has today (tonight? this morning?) With Schilling out, he is a huge key to the season and no one really knows what the Sox are going to get out of him.
6:02: The flower exhange just took place. Thanks for explaining that one, Don. Bob Geren looks as confused as I am. It certainly doesn’t feel like Opening Day, but who’s ready for some baseball?
5:55: That has to be the fastest introduction in recorded history. NBA PA guys take note. The ovation for Dice-K was overwhelming.
5:45: I really wish I had woken up a little bit earlier. You don’t see that at American ballparks every day. I haven’t even had my coffee yet and, hey, is that the Hammer dance?
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