AND SO IT BEGINS!
I'm sitting here on this pre-dawn Tuesday morning listening to the Japanese music echoing throughout the Tokyo Dome as the on the field dancers carrying huge Red Sox symbols march across the spacious field and the band plays "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue." I, of course, am tuned into NESN's Red Sox pre-game coverage on NESN HD. And it's a beautiful sight indeed. Tickets were hard to come by for the Japanese contingent of Red Sox International, and the pre-game festivities almost have the feeling of a fall football game. But this is baseball, and it's back! The introduction of the two teams is just commencing, with any Sox mentions getting huge ovations. It's now nearing 6am edt, and soon, soon, we WILL have baseball. Here is the just announced Red Sox starting lineup...
Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Big Papi Davis Ortiz, Sir Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Jason "Captain" Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury and Julio Lugo. And warming up in the bullpen, the Boston Red Sox starting pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
***UPDATE...JD Drew is a late scratch, replaced in right by Moss. Daisuke is having a real tough time in the first. ALL OVER THE PLACE. No control, a home run, wild pitches and now a walk. It's only the bottom of the first, and it's 2-0 A's. He threw exactly 30 pitches in that ugly first inning.***
Sounds nice, doesn't it (the pre-game festivities, not the score)? There is not an empty seat in sight, and I know that there are millions of Red Sox Japanese fans glued to their television sets. I'm now listening to a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem, and soon it will be time for BASEBALL 2008. May this season bring to every one of us hope, glory and euphoria. The stuff dreams are made of. I'll be back from time to time with game updates before I have to leave the house around 9am edt. Have fun, be safe and BE WELL. And it's been a long time since I've typed this, but here goes...GO SOX!! Forever.
***Continuing updates...after almost two complete, Daisuke is clearly struggling, with three..make that 4 walks and 55 pitches thrown. The A's are one pitch away from extending their lead bigtime. 2 outs, bases full...strike one, a swinging strike two on his first good change, Tavarez starting to warm up. The count is one and two....foul, still one and two...he HAS to keep this a two zip game. Stee-rike three. A's 2 Sox nuttin'. After three, Daisuke looks much more settled. He should be, he'll only go another inning or two...he's sharp now in the third, and the score is still the same. After four, 2-0 A's. The Sox have yet to find their hitting shoes, but Daisuke has now pitched two strong innings. He probably will only pitch five. Kyle Snyder is ready in the 'pen. AND after five, it's still the same score. Sixth inning...Sox have men on first and second with no outs and our Papi up, so we'll see what happens..MANNY ties the game with a double to left. 2-2. Much better. Moss doubles, and it is now Good Guys 3 Oakland 2, with an Oakland pitching change. Old friend Alan Embree on the hill. I think Daisuke has only one inning left in him...to be continued, still the top of the sixth. I love this! And after 5 1/2 innings, it is 3-2. I hope Daisuke will come out for the bottom of the sixth. I'll let you know, right now. It's a commercial. Here we go. Kyle Snyder takes over in the bottom of the 6th. Oh my! Mercy, as our Ned Martin would say. I miss him (Ned) so much.....still 3-2 SOX*** Two run home run off Kyle. Gee. I'd rather see Tavy. And that's tough for me to say. 4-3 A's. Still the sixth. After six complete...4-3 A's. With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the 7th, the Sox bullpen is called, and it will be Javier Lopez (I was hoping for the Darkman, Okie). LOPEZ gets out of the 7th. On to top of the 8th, with the score 4-3 A's. Corey has been warming up in the Sox 'pen.To be continued, as we go to the top of the 8th, with Keith Foulke (believe it or not, with a spring ERA of 15.00 plus) pitching..Youk..one out. Papi up, and he flies to left..two outs. Little Manny joins Corey in the bullpen. BIG Manny time, and Foulke looks (gulp) good...strike three for Keith, darn it. 4-3 A's after 7 1/2. Who will come out pitching for the Sox with a one run deficit as the Tokyo Dome echoes with SWEET CAROLINE! It's Bryan Corey, bottom of the 8th frame. A LEAPING CATCH BY ELLSBURY AT THE CENTERFIELD FENCE! WOW! One out in the bottom of the 8th. TWO down..Corey looks good, but we still need two more runs..It's over! 9 batters in a row retired by Sox pitchers, but it is still a one run game, in favor of the left coast team. WOW!
We are on to the 9th, and it's still 4-3 A's..Lowell flies to center..one out..closer Street pitching to our Moss..he has GREAT stuff..1-2, and 2-2, MOSS ties the game!!!!!!!!! Another home run! 4-4...I love this!! Now let's go ahead, and then..then..PAPS time. Or maybe Okie. But it's now tied. WOW, Moss..great job!! And now, after the Moss tater, it's tied at four. TO BE CONTINUED! Who will come in for our Sox? I'll tell you..bottom of the ninth with the score tied, what could be better? On the mound, it's our DARKMAN, with a huge ovation, Hideki Okajima. ONE down in the bottom of the 9th and the fans are LOVING this. A one out walk in this, the ninth, and the count is 0-2 for Okie. Fly ball to Ells..two outs. We're on the verge of extra innings. Here we go..and now it's SERIOUS...top of the 10th, with the score the same. Lugo is up..with Peds to follow, and then Youk. BASE hit for Lugo..Peds up, at the plate, the crowd almost silent...Peds bunts to first base, allowing the runner, the fast shortstop, to go to 2nd with one out. YOUK up.. the crowd still so quiet, silent, and Youk strikes out. Papi is up, and intentionally walked. IT IS UP TO MANNY...here we go.. 0-2 count..wild...1-2..a double...two runners come in! MANNY! 6-4 good guys..as the crowd, the RSI crowd, stands and cheers for our Manny! Paps is coming in! It might be over, but I won't say a thing until it's over. 4 RBIs for Sir Manny. Still the top of the 10th, with 2 Sox runners on.. Moss up..fly out to left. After ten and a half, WITH PAPS STROLLING TO THE MOUND, our Sox are ahead 6-4.
HERE we go, with Coco in center and PAPS pitching, with a possible win for Okie..strike one..1-1, strike two, still one and two..the splitter looked great. Now, the count is 3-2...fouled back..the ump calling a much smaller strike zone because Paps has only thrown 5 pitches...ball four..to the lead-off batter. NOW IT GETS SERIOUS. Cust is up, one man on first no outs..now the count is in Pap's favor..and the count is 1-2, with one guy on first. STRIKE THREE. One out, two to go and a base hit but a HUGE baserunning error for the A's. The bases are EMPTY with two outs. The final score of this game will be 6-5 Sox. I hope. We'll see. Another base hit...man on first, two heavenly outs...the count is 0-1..1-1, c'mon Paps..base hit..the tying run is at second, as John Farrell goes to Paps on the mound...frankly, now I'm worried! Oakland guys at first and second..and the count is 2-0...darn! But suddenly and SWEETLY, THE GAME IS OVER!!!!!!! Red Sox 6 Oakland A's 5. It wasn't easy, but I loved this. I love you too!
I hope I did well..I wasn't trying to do an inning by inning post, but I might have. I think I almost did. Okie wins and Paps gets his first save. Hey, we're one and zero. I hope you enjoyed! I sure did. Thank you, my friends.