Closing Time: About that Red Sox offense …
|04.04.10 at 11:57 pm ET|
For at least one game (which was convenient considering that’s all Major League Baseball has played), the Red Sox showed that their offense actually might not be as big a concern as previously thought. The Sox stormed back from deficits of 5-1 and 7-5 to claim a 9-7 victory over the Yankees on Opening Night at Fenway Park.
Here are some of the particulars:
BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME
– While some might point to Kevin Youkilis darting home on a passed ball off the glove of Jorge Posada with two outs in the seventh, ultimately serving as the game-winning run, its importance wouldn’t have been made possible if not for Dustin Pedroia’s two-run homer over the left field wall off of Chan Ho Park.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– The new lineup: Not only did the newcomers (Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro) go a combined 5-for-9, but they contributed to an approach against CC Sabathia that drove the Yankees starter from the game after 5-1/3 innings, having thrown 104 pitches). Scutaro, for instance, saw 19 pitches in his four at-bats, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
– The cleanup hitter: Youkilis was an extra-base machine, notching two doubles and a triple. The three-bagger was one the biggest of the game for the Sox at the time it rattled around down in the right-field corner, scoring two to get the home team within a run before Beltre completed the sixth-inning comeback with a game-tying single. But it was Youkilis’ double in the seventh that led to the game-winner, with the first baseman scoring on Jorge Posada‘s passed ball. He became the first Red Sox player with three or more extra-base on Opening Day since Carlton Fisk did it in 1973.
– Scott Shoeneweis: It might not have seemed like much at the time, but the lefty’s one inning of scoreless relief after Josh Beckett exited allowed the Sox to mount their first comeback.
– The pregame/in-game festivities: From Keri Hilson’s National Anthem (no, she didn’t forget the words this time), to Pedro Martinez’ first pitch (complete with all cheers until he shook Alex Rodriguez’ hand on the way in), to 5-year-old Joshua Sacco’s delivery of the pregame speech made in the movie “Miracle,” the package was the best Fenway has delivered since Dr. Charles Steinberg left town. And then, of course, there was Neil Diamond doing his “Sweet Caroline” thing live, complete with a bizarre sports jacket sporting the words “Keep the Dodgers In Brooklyn” on the back. For those who liked that sort of thing, it was solid.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Josh Beckett’s outing: Beckett couldn’t locate, and it cost him. The first examples of his lack of command came in the second inning when he surrendered back-to-back homers to Posada and Curtis Granderson. The Granderson shot, which cleared the Red Sox bullpen in right, was a direct result of Beckett misplacing a 3-2 fastball. After an eight-pitch first inning, Beckett left with two outs in the fifth inning, having allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks, throwing 94 pitches.
– Much of the middle relief: Concerns continued regarding the reliability of the Sox’ middle relief corps. This time the cause for cautiousness came from Ramon Ramirez, who allowed two runs in the seventh immediately after the Red Sox had come back to tie the game in the sixth. It was actually Hideki Okajima who allowed the game-tying runs to come across via a groundout and single. In case you forgot, Ramirez didn’t allow a single run through his first 13 appearances in 2009, a streak that stretched until May 4. Daniel Bard did come on to pitch a scoreless eighth, only walking a batter.
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