Kevin Youkilis blasted his 4th homerun in as many days to help the Boston Red Sox capture a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers last night at Comerica Park. Youkilis came into the Detroit series with 3 homers on the season and leaves Motown with 7 round trippers, and the Tigers pitching and coaching staff couldn’t be happier to see him leave town.
“Our entire staff did a poor, poor job the entire series against Youkilis,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “Not with the thought process but executing pitches. We just gave him cookie after cookie and he just beat our brains out.”
Justin Verlander was the most recent culprit to surrender a Youkilis blast, giving up the two-run bomb in the 5th inning, putting the Sox ahead 5-1, a lead that Josh Beckett would make hold up for his 4th win of the season. Verlander falls to 1-6 on the year and his ERA rises up to 6.43.
For the second consecutive start Beckett looked very comfortable on the mound and the outcome relayed this feeling as he was able to mix in all of his pitches throughout the night with ease.
“I made pitches when I needed them, and that’s what it boils down to,” Beckett said. “If I hadn’t been able to make a couple key pitches, I would have given up a lot more runs. I had all four pitches working when I needed them, and that’s big.”
Over 7 innings of work, Beckett allowed 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 8 Tigers. Along the way he recorded his 1,000th career strike out en route to the victory. Craig Hansen relieved Beckett and pitched a perfect 8th while Manny Delcarmen recorded all three outs in the 9th.
The Sox recorded 13 hits on the night led by a 3 hit performance by Coco Crisp while Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell all chipped in with 2 hits respectively. Ortiz now has an 8 game hitting streak and has raised his average 55 percentage points over that time.
Boston took three of the four games in Detroit and squandered the possible sweep with an unusual blown save on Wednesday night by Jonathan Papelbon. The team now travels to Minnesota for a four game set against the Twins who are currently in first place on the AL Central Division with a record of 17-16. Over the past ten games both clubs are playing extremely good baseball. The Sox are 8-2 over that period while the Twins are 7-3.
Tonight’s pitching match up features Jon Lester of the Sox going against Boof Bonser of the Twins. Over his last two starts, Lester has looked very impressive hurling 14 innings while only allowed 1 earned run and striking out 11 opponents. Lester is 2-2 on the season with a 3.94 ERA and has never started in Minnesota.
Bonser is coming off a no decision against the Tigers on May 4th where he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits over 6 innings. He is 2-4 on the season with a 4.29 ERA. He has never faced many of the Red Sox starters, including Youkilis who has never homered at the Metrodome but still looks to stay hot in Minnesota.
The scheduled first pitch tonight is at 8:10pm EST.
- Curt Schilling threw long toss before Thursdays game, completing 25 tosses of about 60 feet in length. There is still no estimated return for Schilling who began the season on the 60-Day DL.
- On Tuesday night, Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin became the first pair of 40 + year old pitchers to combine for a shutout since 1990 in the Sox 5-0 win over Detroit.
- Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Craig Hanson and Clay Buchholtz are all currently on the Red Sox official 40-man roster. This is the first time in the 43-year history of the amateur draft that an organization has moved its top 4 picks from the same draft (2005) onto the roster at the same time within 3 years of having been drafted.
The Boston Red Sox did everything they could to win last night’s game against the Detroit Tigers, but sometimes everything just isn’t enough. Placido Polanco’s broken bat single in the 9th inning off of Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon would knock in the game winner as the Tigers pulled off the 10-9 come from behind victory, snapping their five game losing streak and ending Boston’s five game winning streak.
“We had a great comeback and we couldn’t finish it,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
The Red Sox had trailed most of game and overcame a 4 run deficit that they faced after 5 innings when the Tigers led 8-4. Kevin Youkilis’ second homerun of the game in the 6th pulled the Sox within 3 runs, making the score 8-5 Detroit, and with two outs in the 7th inning Mike Lowell would belt a 3-run shot to knot the game at 8-8. The homerun came off of relief pitcher Francisco Cruceta, who had just entered the game.
Javier Lopez came out of the pen and pitched a scoreless 7th for the Sox retiring Ivan Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Placido Polanco in order. This was the only time Boston pitchers were able to retire the three in a row all evening. Detroit collected a season high 18 hits off of Red Sox pitching.
J.D. Drew led off the 8th inning with a walk and stolen base. After a Jason Varitek line out, Julio Lugo also walked putting runners on first and second with one out for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury would strike out swinging in a very good at bat leaving the stage set for pinch hitter Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia who had been given the night off delivered in the clutch, ripping the go ahead RBI single to left, plating Drew to put the Sox ahead for the first time all night 9-8.
Hideki Okajima preserved the lead pitching the 8th inning allowing a few hits but retiring the side without allowing a run. The inning ended on a strike him out; throw him out double play where Varitek caught Magglio Ordonez trying to steal third after Gary Sheffield struck out swinging.
The Sox threatened to add some insurance to their lead in the 9th inning off of Tigers closer Todd Jones, but Jones was able to get out of the jam stranding runners on first and second base.
With a lead in the 9th inning, Terry Francona did what he’s done a hundred times before, calling for the services of All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to finish off the Tigers. Unfortunately for Papelbon and the Sox, the save just wasn’t in the cards last night.
Matt Joyce led off the inning with an infield single and was replaced at first base with pinch runner Ryan Raburn. Edgar Renteria then grounded to short in what looked to be a taylor-made double play ball only Julio Lugo rushed fielding the play, worrying too much about Raburn’s speed and made a very costly error. Ivan Rodriguez’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position and the tying run was knocked in by a Curtis Granderson ground out to second base.
With the winning run at third, Polanco stepped up to the plate already having collected 4 hits on the night. He was able to foul off a few Papelbon fastballs before shooting a broken bat single over the head of Lugo into left field for the game winning RBI.
“It tells you a lot about our team,” Polanco said. “We had some really tough at-bats against Papelbon to make something happen.”
The blown save was Papelbon’s first of the year, he had previously been 10 for 10 in save conversion opportunities.
“We didn’t get many breaks,” Papelbon said. “When they get little breaks like that, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
In tonight’s final game of the four game series, the Red Sox will send Josh Beckett to the mound to duel against Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander. Both are off to slow starts, Verlander especially who is currently 1-5 with a 6.28 ERA on the season. Beckett is coming off a strong 8 inning performance in which he picked up the win vs. Tampa Bay last week at Fenway. He is currently 3-2 on the year with a 4.19 ERA.
Boston will then travel to Minnesota for a four game series against the Twins, and wrap up the road trip with a quick two game stop in Baltimore to face off against the Orioles.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has successfully converted every stolen base attempt in his major league career. Last night he stole 2 bases to put him up to 13 on the season, and dating back to his debut last year he is a perfect 22-22 on stolen bases.
- After his two blasts in last nights game, Kevin Youkilis has now hit 7 career homeruns at Comerica Park, this is 5 more homeruns than he has hit at any other visiting stadium. The only other time Youkilis has had a multi-homerun game also came in Detroit back in Aug. of 2004.
- Alex Cora went 2-4 and scored a run in 7 innings of a rehab stint in Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.
After a two week long, three country hiatus that opened up the Boston Red Sox season, the 2007 World Series Champions were happy to return home and accept their championship rings in front of another sold out Fenway Park crowd during yesterday’s pre-game ceremonies that followed with an impressive 5-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The ceremonies included past Boston sports legends such as Bill Russell and Bobby Orr who held their respective championship trophies for all to see alongside the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 trophies.
The ceremonial first pitch of the afternoon was thrown out by former Red Sox 1B Bill Buckner. Buckner, the 1986 World Series goat who had been invited to the 2005 opening day ceremonies but elected to not attend, received a standing ovation during yesterday festivities.
One member of the Sox who did not actively participate in receiving his ring was starting pitcher Dice-K Matsuzaka. He was too busy warming up in the bullpen while all the excitement was going on throughout the park.
“I did feel a little jealous,” Matsuzaka said. “The ring had been put in my locker at some point during the game. I tried it on, and I must say it looked pretty good.”
His ring wasn’t the only thing that looked good yesterday, for the second straight start his performance on the mound was very impressive en route to his second win on the season. Over 6 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka only allowed 4 hits and stuck out 7 Tigers. Relief pitchers Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima put up goose eggs in the 8th and 9th innings to preserve the shutout.
The loss puts Detroit at a mark of (0-7) on the year, the worst in Major League Baseball. Many had projected the Tigers to be one of the top three teams in the league behind the Sox and Yankees, but right now they are struggling at the plate having only scored 15 runs over 7 games (2.14 per game).
“You get angry if people are going through the motions and if they’re not trying,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s not what’s happening.”
No? Well they did commit two errors on the afternoon only a day after they had made three in a game. Their pitchers allowed 12 hits, 6 walks and a balk vs. the Sox and they only managed to squeak out 5 measly singles. On the season, they are batting a pathetic .235 team average. Yesterday’s starting pitcher Kenny Rogers is just as frustrated with these numbers as any veteran player in the league would be.
“It’s frustrating. Right now, we’re the worst team in baseball because of the way we are playing, in all areas of the game,” Rogers said. “I wanted to be the guy to turn things around. Every player in the locker room wants to be that guy.”
The Sox took advantage of the Tigers struggles early in the game scoring once in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings to put them ahead 3-0. Manny Ramirez almost had an inside the park homerun in the 3rd but it was ruled a triple with a throwing error by Detroit 2B Placido Polanco.
The Sox tacked on their final two runs of the afternoon in the 6th inning on an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis that plated Julio Lugo. Later in the inning, J.D. Drew would walk with the bases loaded to bring home Youkilis for the games last run. Youkilis went 3-3 at the plate and is off to a great start batting at a .400 clip through 8 games.
Tonight in the second game of the series, Jon Lester will take the hill for the Sox and match up against Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman. Lester is coming off an impressive win over Oakland where he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for a victory. Bonderman is (0-1) on the year losing his first start to Kansas City in which he allowed 4 runs and 8 hits over 6 1/3 innings.
After the Tigers series finale on Thursday, the Red Sox will welcome the New York Yankees to town for the weekend and their first of 18 games this year. Red Sox Tickets are still available for baseballs biggest rivalry!
A week ago the inaugural game for the 2008 season was played in Tokyo, Japan between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. While the two teams enjoyed the trip and media hype, the rest of Major League Baseball could only watch and wait for their first regular season games. Well after yesterday, the wait is over and baseball is back in season! Thirteen games graced ballparks across the country and fans returned from their winter hibernations, awaking to the sounds of sausage and beer vendors roaming the stands. For 26 teams yesterday was a new slate, a fresh start and chance to show everyone that this is their year.
It’s too early to make any predictions, but the only thing that really matters right now is that its baseball season and fans couldn’t be happier.
AL Round Up
The last opening day at Yankee Stadium will have to wait at least one more day due to rainstorms in the Bronx, NY that forced the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to postpone yesterday’s scheduled afternoon game. The Yankees have already announced that 2008 will be their final season in the 76 year old stadium, and at years end will be moving to a brand new park that has cost the team over 1 billion dollars to construct.
In Detroit, the Kansas City Royals spoiled the Tigers home opener with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings. Tony Pena Jr.’s tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the 11th would prove to be the game winning hit for the Royals. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and a stolen base in the win. Justin Verlander pitched the first six innings for the Tigers allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings. He stuck out 6 batters and walked one in the performance and came away with a no decision. Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez threw two hitless innings of relief and picked up the victory. Over the off-season the Tigers were one of the teams who hit the market hard for new players and currently have a pay-roll of $138 million dollars compared to the Royals $57 million.
C.C. Sabathia struggled in his opening day performance but the Cleveland Indians were still able to hold on for a 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Jacobs Field. Chicago 1B Jim Thome welcomed Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, back home with two monster home runs to center field in his first two plate appearances. Still, the Sox could not overcome a 7 run 2nd inning by the tribe that was led by a Franklin Gutierrez three-run homer and a solo shot by Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez went 3-3 on the day. The knock out punch for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning when Casey Blake hit a two-out double with the bases loaded to break a 7-7 tie. Octavio Dotel took the loss for the White Sox while Rafael Betancourt logged the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work.
With ace pitcher Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to James Shields to open the year and it turned out to be a great move. Shields pitched 7 strong innings and picked up the win in Tampa Bay’s 6-2 opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. After allowing two runs on a Kevin Millar 2 RBI double in the 1st inning, Shields settled down and did not allow another run in his outing. The Rays received three hits from C Dioner Navarro and a solo home run from OF Eric Hinske. Jeremy Guthrie suffered the loss for Baltimore, allowing all 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and 1 walk.
The Seattle Mariners have high hopes for the 2008 season, and a lot of that is based on the off-season acquisition of new ace pitched Erik Bedard. In his first outing with his new team, Bedard pitched 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits that helped lift the Mariners past the Texas Rangers 5-2 last night. Bedard struggled at times finding the plate and throwing strikes, and in return walked 4 batters. 2B Jose Lopez went 2-4 and had 2 RBI’s in the win for Seattle. In the losing effort, SS Michael Young went yard in the 1st inning off Bedard and losing pitcher Kevin Millwood pitched well allowing only 2 unearned runs on 4 hits through 6 innings.
Torri Hunter returned to Minnesota for his debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only to be welcomed with an 0-4 performance at the plate and a 3-2 loss from his former Minnesota Twins. Livan Hernandez hurled 7 innings for to earn the win allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. Hunter’s replacement in CF for the Twins, Carlos Gomez, scored two runs in the game, including the eventual game winner in the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. Joe Nathan pitched the 9th inning and earned the save, striking out Hunter during his effort.
The 2008 Major League Baseball season kicks off in 14 cities today. Last week’s Japan opener between the Red Sox and A’s wast the official start of the season, but with most teams still playing exhibition games baseball was still on the back burner in most minds. The MLB season in the U.S. got started last night in Washington. The Washington Nationals celebrated the opening of a new stadium in dramatic fashion with a game winning homerun in the 9th inning with 2 outs.
Teams playing home openers today include, the Yankees, Tigers, Indians and Cubs to name a few. The Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s will resume the series they started in Japan last week on Tueday night in Oakland. The Red Sox and A’s split the first two games of their series.
You can buy MLB tickets for all 2008 games now.