The 2009 Major League Baseball Season is underway! Nearly every team has been in action, and a number of rookies have already made big impacts for their clubs.
Sunday April 5th
Atlanta 4, Philadelphia 1 – Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, and rookie Jordan Schafer all homered to give the Braves the win over the World Series Champs.
Monday April 6th
Tampa Bay/Boston and Kansas City/Chicago were both postponed due to inclement weather.
NY Mets 2, Cincinnati 1 – K-Rod headlined the new and improved Metsbullpen. Sean Green, JJ Putz, and Rodriguez held the Reds scoreless in the last 3 innings.
Texas 9, Cleveland 1 – A slimmed-down Kevin Millwood went 7 strong for the Rangers, giving up only one run on five hits and a walk.
Arizona 9, Colorado 8 -Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez both hit homers from each side of the plate in part of the D’Backs’ offensive assault.
Baltimore 10, NY Yankees 5 – New Yankee CC Sabathia was shelled and held without a strikeout in his NY Debut.
Florida 12, Washington 6 – Rookie Emilio Bonifacio made a splash in his debut with an inside-the-park home run.
Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 4 – Jack Wilson hit a three-run double in the 9th to give the Bucs the late win.
LA Dodgers 4, San Diego 1 – Hiroki Kuroda pitched a gem to give the Dodgers the win over Jake Peavy.
Chicago Cubs 4, Houston 2 – Zambrano had six strong innings, and new closer Kevin Gregg hung on through a rocky 9th to notch his first save for the club.
Toronto 12, Detroit 5 – Adam Lind had a monster game; a homer and 6 RBI’s made him a fan (and Fantasy) favorite in Toronto.
Seattle 6, Minnesota 1 – Ken Griffey Jr homered in his first game back with the Mariners.
LA Angels 3, Oakland 0 – The Angels’ bullpen (Arredondo, Shields, and newcomer Brian Fuentes) held the A’s hitless after Joe Saunders left in the 7th.
2009 MLB Baseball tickets are available now for all teams.
After a dismal 3-game set against the AL-best Angels, the Boston Red Sox rebounded against the Oakland Athletics. Friday night was the debut of the Sox’ new left fielder, Jason Bay. Runs were hard to come by in the Justin Duchscherer vs Tim Wakefield matchup. Bay made an immediate impact, scoring the Sox’ lone run in the first 9 innings on a Jed Lowrie double.
After 7 solid innings from Wakefield and Delcarmen the Sox hit a snag. Hideki Okajima continued to his struggles, allowing a 2-out home run to A’s slugger Jack Cust. A scoreless 9th and shutdown pitching from both teams sent the game into extras. The Sox threatened twice – loading the bases but blowing the opportunity both times. In the bottom of the 12th, the Sox finally delivered. Jason Bay hit a monster triple off of Alan Embree that nearly cleared the wall. Jed Lowrie came through again and drove in Bay for the walk off win.
The complexion of Saturday’s game was completely different. The A’s scored two runs off of John Lester in the first, and fell asleep for the rest of the game. Kevin Youkilis launched two homers, and Jason Bay got his first in a Sox uniform. A’s starter Dana Eveland was chased after 2 innings and 9 runs. Lester went 7 strong, and the Sox got clean innings from Justin Masterson and Chris Smith to close it out. Interim shortstop Jed Lowrie showed up big again, hitting a bases-clearing double.
Bay and Lowrie continued to shine in the final game of the series. Bay scored two runs, and Lowrie drove 2 in. The two seem to be proficient run producers next to each other in the lineup. On the heels of one of his best pithcing performances in Boston, Daisuke found himself struggling at times. He scattered 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings. Hideki Okajima calmed down and pitched a solid 7th. Papelbon pitched a perfect 9th to notch his 31st save.
One of the highlights of the occasionally rain-soaked game was a crowd-pleasing stolen base by David Ortiz. After noticing that Santiago Casilla was not checking on him at first, Ortiz took advantage, motoring to second base.
The Sox remain two games behind the AL East-leading Rays, and lead the AL Wild Card race by 1.5 games over the Chicago White Sox.
Since the end of the 2007 season, the Oakland Athletics have traded a rotation worth of pitchers. Joe Blanton was dealt to the Phillies, Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin went to the Cubs, and Dan Haren went to the Diamondbacks. Now the A’s are looking to trade closer Huston Street.
The A’s are dealing their players and amassing prospects, which continues to be Billy Beane’s M.O. when the team is not in contention. Despite being tied for second place, the A’s are ten games behind the AL West leading Angels.
Possible destinations for Street include the Mets, White Sox, Dodgers, Brewers, and Reds. An Adam Dunn for Huston Street deal may not be out of the question.
One day after the Brewers announced their acquisition of CC Sabathia, the Cubs made their own deal. The Cubs nabbed A’s pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for righty Sean Gallagher, outfielders Eric Patterson and Matt Murton, as well as minor leaguer Josh Donaldson.
Oft-injured Harden is a high-risk, high-reward pick. He’s 5-1 with 2.34 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 92 k’s, but has already missed a month this season due to a right shoulder strain. Gaudin provides a bit of insurance for the Cubs; effective in both starter and reliever roles. He has also put together a respectable season, going 5-3 with a 3.59 era after missing the last 2 weeks of spring training with a hip injury.
The A’s get a relatively bright prospect in Donaldson, a passable (and younger) replacement for Gaudin, and two underachieving outfielders in Murton and Patterson. Billy Beane seems confident that the package of players (with an average age of 24) will be of significant value to the Athletics.
Sometimes performing in front of a home crowd can add a lot of pressure on a pitcher. Last week, Dice-K Matsuzaka felt the heat and looked very shaky in front of over 44 thousand fans at the Tokyo Dome in his home country of Japan for the 2008 MLB season opener.
Last night, Matsuzaka looked like a dominant force and led the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the two team’s stateside debut.
”It’s only something I can say in hindsight, but it would have been nice to pitch like this back in Tokyo,” Matsuzaka said through a translator, noting he’s more comfortable starting his second season in the United States. “I guess you could say I’m getting more and more used to it, but I haven’t really thought about it. A lot of it is how people perceive me, and that might be one of the results.”
Over 6 and 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka allowed only 2 hits, walked no one and recorded 9 strike outs. After allowing a leadoff home run to Jack Cust in the 2nd inning, the Sox temporary ace retired the next 17 batters he faced until he was relieved by fellow countryman Hideki Okajima in the 7th inning.
Manager Terry Francona was very happy with the performance his second year pitcher provided for the ball club.
“I thought he pitched with a lot of heart,” the skipper said. “He made a lot of good pitches. I thought the pitch to Cust was a pretty good pitch. He did a great job.”
The Sox trailed 1-0 until Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single scored Kevin Youkilis to tie the game 1-1 in the 5th inning. Youkilis was 3-4 on the night and plated both the Red Sox runs. The go ahead and winning run would come in the 6th inning when Jason Varitek slammed an RBI double to the right center field gap, knocking in Youkilis. The Sox captain came up with the big hit, but couldn’t say enough about his battery mate’s pitching effort in the win.
“He had good command of his cutter and slider. He put himself ahead in the count and that enabled us to utilize his strengths,” Varitek said. “He threw strikes with both his slider and cutter, to righties and lefties, then late he had some pretty good life to his fastball.”
Jonathan Papelbon recorded the last four outs, including striking out the side in the 9th inning for his second save on the year.
In the final match up of this four game, two country, week long series, the Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound to face off against Oakland’s Rich Harden. The two faced each other in Tokyo, Japan in the second game of the season a week ago with Harden coming away with the victory. He pitched 6 strong innings allowing only 1 run on three hits.
Following this series, the Red Sox head out to Toronto for a weekend series vs. the Blue Jays and then prepare to return home for their Opening Day at Fenway Park in which they will take on the Detroit Tigers on April 8th. During the pre-game ceremonies on opening day, the Red Sox will receive their 2007 World Series Championship rings.
Tickets are still available for Red Sox home games this year!
The reigning 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox picked up right where they left off with today’s 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the inaugural game of the 2008 MLB season. It took the Red Sox 10 innings, some late heroics, and a clutch hitting performance by Manny Ramirez to pick up the win in Tokyo, Japan, but the sold out Tokyo Dome crowd of 44,628 loved every minute of it.
In his return home, Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka’s pitching performance was not at all like what the local fans remembered when the young hurler was last throwing for the Seibu Lions in 2006. Known for his arm strength, it was not uncommon for Matsuzaka to pitch a complete game and throw 140 pitches in his outing. Last season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made sure to monitor his pitch counts and only allowed the MLB rookie to go the distance on one occasion.
In his season debut, Dice-K threw only 5 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 2 hits. He struck out 6 Athletics while allowing 5 walks on a total of 95 pitches, only 51 for strikes. Both of the earned runs he allowed were scored in the first inning, one coming on a Mark Ellis homerun that cleared the left-center field fence. The walks hurt him early, forcing him to pitch out of two bases loaded situations to get out of the first and second innings.
The Sox trailed 2-0 until they came to bat in the 6th, plating 3 runs on 3 hits. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double to deep right. Kevin Youkilis followed up with a walk and both were driven in two batters later on Manny Ramirez’s first double of the season. Brandon Moss would pick up an RBI single that would score Ramirez to help the sox take a 3-2 lead. Moss, who was not in the original starting lineup, came up big in replacing J.D. Drew who was a game time scratch with lower back stiffness.
Kyle Snyder replaced Matsuzaka in the 6th inning and gave up a lead off single to Bobby Crosby, followed by a home run to Jack Hannahan, which put the Athletics back on top 4-3. The duo of former Red Sox relief pitchers Alan Embree and Keith Foulke shut the Sox down in the 7th and 8th innings before handing the ball over to closer Huston Street for the 9th trying to preserve the win.
After retiring Mike Lowell on a fly ball to center field, Street tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball by Brandon Moss which ultimately ended up landing over the right-field wall for Moss’s first major league home run, knotting the game at 4 a piece. Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless 9th to give the Sox a chance to win the game in extra innings.
In the 10th, the Sox led off with a Julio Lugo infield single. A sacrifice bunt by Pedroia moved Lugo into scoring position with only one out. Youkilis would then strike out swinging, and the Athletics elected not to pitch to David Ortiz with two out, intentionally walking him to face Manny Ramirez.
Not a good idea.
Ramirez would lace a two out double to deep center-field knocking in Lugo and Ortiz for RBI’s number 3 and 4 on the day to put the Sox ahead for good. Jonathan Papelbon would come in and pitch the 10th to record his first save of the year. He allowed three hits and a run in what was a very shaky and nerve racking inning for Sox fans to watch, but in the end he was able to get Kurt Suzuki to ground out with two runners on base to close the game. Okajima recorded the win in front of his countrymen while Street took the loss.
It wasn’t the prettiest victory you’ll see this season, but it was a win nonetheless and the Sox along with Red Sox Nation will take it without question.
Tomorrow in the second game of two on the Japan trip, John Lester will take the hill for the Red Sox and square off against Oakland’s Rich Harden in a match up that features two pitchers who saw limited action last season due to long stints on the DL. Lester’s final outing last season was when we posted the victory in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series in Colorado.
Baseball season is officially underway, which means Bostonians can get back to their lives and stop pretending they like the Bruins. From now until October, its all Sox, all the time!
Red Sox tickets are available for all 2008 games.
While everyone’s eyes, ears, and …. imaginations have been focused on where Johan Santana would end up, the American League hot stove has been quietly churning. Here is a quick recap of some moves to date. (more)