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Red Sox Back in America and Back in Action

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

Game 1, Tues: Bos. vs Oak. Dice-K vs Joe Blanton.
Game 2, Weds: Bos. vs Oak. Jon Lester vs Rich Harden.

Deja vu all over again. Thanks Yogi. Even in the WWE rematches don’t come this quickly, but luckily the Red Sox and Athletics get to roll the dice again. Most likely both games will see the exact same lineups. So if there have been any ill effects from making the trip from Japan we should notice it.

Dice-K on Tuesday looks to come out strong after having no control to begin the first game of the Red Sox season. He was admittedly nervous to be returning to Japan and seeing all his fans again. And after putting five A’s on by himself in the first two innings, it was evident.

After that though, Dice-K settled down to pitch three hitless innings with one walk and three K’s. If Dice-K can replicate the consistency of the last three innings it’ll be a quiet game from Oakland.

Jon Lester in Game 2 also needs a rebound from the same kind of shaky start. Lester was just plain erratic. He walked three in four innings and made a lot of mistake pitches, including the worst of them all: the Emil Brown thigh-high screamer.

But again, at least in Lester’s final inning he looked better, striking out two of three for a perfect inning.

The Red Sox may need to really lean on Jon Lester this year if the starting rotation can’t live up to expectations. The front office sees Lester as a potential 16 game winner. If he can’t live up to that we could be looking at Colon in the rotation. That kind of terrible pitching could pile up if no one has success.

J.D. Drew most likely will miss the Oakland series with a bad back (Check the Notes section for more) and we’ll see a continued presence from Coco and probably Kielty. Over the weekend Ellsbury was given time at RF, so most likely we’ll be seeing Ellsbury helping in right all year long. I’m not sure if his arm is made for right, so it’ll be interesting to see how he plays.

Baseball is back baby. The marathon has begun.

Prediction: The Red Sox and A’s will probably split again. The difference between Dice-K’s pitching and Blanton’s is just as big as Harden’s and Lester’s. Dice-K and Harden will probably pitch well again, so unless an offense steps up it’ll be a split in Oakland.

Expected Lineup for Tuesday & Wednesday:
1) Pedroia 2B
2) Youkilis 1B
3) Ortiz DH
4) Ramirez LF
5) Lowell 3B
6) Varitek C
7) Ellsbury RF
8) Crisp CF
9) Lugo SS

Game Notes:

From Yahoo sports:
OF J.D. Drew was again unable to crack the starting lineup in Boston’s final tuneup before the regular season resumes on Tuesday. The injury-prone Drew, who had previously thought that taking up bowling with his father-in-law in the offseason had kept his back loose, suffered back spasms just minutes before last week’s season opener in Japan. The injury could test Boston’s outfield depth if Drew is unable to go on Tuesday. Manager Terry Francona moved Jacoby Ellsbury to right field for a handful of innings over the weekend in preparation for any emergency situations involving Drew’s back.

Sunday’s Game against the Dodgers was officially the largest crowd ever to watch a baseball game. The fans totalled 115,300 strong.

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  1. [...] Red Sox Series Preview: Back in America and Back in Action [...]

    Posted by Celtics Sweep Heat | Sports of Boston | March 31, 2008, 8:25 pm

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