|Connelly’s Top Ten: Less Than a Week to Opening Day!||Why 2014 Should Make Red Sox Fans Smile||Former Bruins Player Carol Vadnais Dies||John Farrell’s Second Season Unlike his First|
98 years of Opening DAY at Fenway Park tradition ends tonight, because ESPN wants it to. It’s not just ESPN though; Tuesday and Wednesday’s games will also be played at night, to increase TV ratings. Because when it’s Yanks/Sox Rivalry ™, it’s got to be played in Prime Time! And end around midnight.
At least the weather gods have bailed out the people attending the game, as it’s about 40 degrees warmer than normal right now (balmy and in the 70′s as this intro is being typed at about 6 PM, with the sun still up.)
Okay, we accept that money runs everything and that all Yankee/Red Sox Rivalry (TM) games must be played at night. But then why start the season with these games, and play them at the time when they have the least possible impact on the pennant race? Isn’t Opening Day at Fenway Park big enough, without forcing the Rivalry ™ into it? I guess not this year, because there won’t be an Opening Day at Fenway Park.
Thus endeth the first rant of the new season.
Onto the baseball. Every team changes between seasons, and the Red Sox brought in horsefaced John Lackey to fortify the rotation, and Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron to improve the defense. Jason Bay’s righthanded power will be missed, but the defense was bad last season, and the pitchers should like the changes.
As for the Yankees, they traded for the formerly likable Curtis Granderson, brought back former Yankee failure Javier Vazquez and signed formerly uninjured Yankee Nick Johnson.
But questions remain. Big, important questions, like these:
Question: What about A-Rod?
Answer: Still a wanker.
Question: And then what about C.C. Sabbathia?
Answer: Still looks like a popular cartoon character of the 1970s.
Question: What’s the deal with Johnny Damon?
Answer: As always, he’s still playing for whoever will pay him the most money.
Question: But what about Hideki Matsui, will he still look like Shemp in another uniform?
Answer: to be determined.
2 Derek Jeter SS
26 Nick Johnson DH
25 Mark Teixeira 1B
13 Alex Rodriguez 3B
24 Robinson Cano 2B
20 Jorge Posada C
14 Curtis Granderson CF
33 Nick Swisher RF
11 Brett Gardner LF
52 CC Sabathia LHP
2 Jacoby Ellsbury LF
15 Dustin Pedroia 2B
41 Victor Martinez C
20 Kevin Youkilis 1B
34 David Ortiz DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
7 J.D. Drew RF
23 Mike Cameron CF
16 Marco Scutaro
19 Josh Beckett RHP
Pregame show: for some reason, Dr. Dre is taking batting practice at Fenway.I don’t believe he’s actually a medical doctor. He’s pushing some new headphones, so obviously he gets interviewed on the pregame show. It’d be hard to find someone more random and irrelevant to this game. Maybe Dolly Parton? Pee Wee Herman? Kofi Annan? LeBron James? Oh wait no, here’s Lebron right now, at the game, on camera.
Now fighter jets are soaring over Fenway! Everyone’s cheering, so it’s part of the ceremony, not a terrorist attack. On the field, Don Orsillo and Joe Castiglione are talking about the game– this IS a special occasion!
Looks like the great Pedro Martinez will be throwing out the first pitch! Which would be so much cooler if he didn’t just lose two games to the Yankees in the World Series a few months ago, including the very last game they played. (He can make up for that by heaving the ceremonial first pitch at A-Rod’s head, hint hint.) Actually, with Lackey, Beckett, Wakefield and Dice K all having injury issues in recent years, maybe they can see if Pedro wants to pitch here for a few months this summer during the inevitable injuries. Who do you want starting an August game when one of the starters is on the DL, Pedro or Kason Gabbard?
The legendary Johnny Pesky is in uniform, heading out to the field, nice touch. Looks like he still moves faster around the infield than Mike Lowell.
Pedro looking great in a Sox uniform again. Too bad the P.A. is blasting Phil Collins music. And now he hugs A-Rod. But makes up for it by clowning around long-distance with Ortiz.
Pedro makes a huge, exaggerated windup, and his ceremonial first pitch… a looping changeup, inside on a right-handed batter. Pedro hugs Pesky, then high-fives his fellow multimillionaires in the front-row seats.
Now a five-year-old kid in a tan polyester suit is reciting Herb Brooks’ speech from the movie “Miracle.”Seriously. No one could make that up. He does the whole thing, right down to the “screw ‘em” at the end. Who should be more embarrassed, the kid’s parents, the Red Sox for hiring him, or us for watching?
Now the P.A. guy asks Pesky to say the two words we’ve been waiting for, and Pesky busts out three instead: “Let’s play ball!”
Now that all the speechifying and ceremoning is done, there is a baseball game to be played. First pitch, Jeter grounds one to shortstop, Lugo throws it into the seats! Just kidding, it’s Marco Scutaro, who fields it and throws out Jeter easily. Nick Johnson is next, and alas, he has shaved his horrible mustache. He takes a few pitches, as he does, then belts one high and deep to left center, but it hangs up for Cameron to glide under it and grab it on the warning track. Texieirieieria grounds out to Youkilis, and the first is over quickly.
Ellsbury flies out to Granderson for the first out. Pedroia stands in, and the burly lefty Sabathia fans him on a high heater. Victor Martinez faces his old Cleveland batterymate. Sabathia gets ahead 1-2, then fouls one off, then takes one low, then fouls off another, battling and driving up the pitch count the way we like to see. He bounces one off the first base bag that Texeirieiairia handles, and he steps on the base to end the inning. 0-0 after 1.
John Lackey is already featured in a NESN promo, without ever having thrown a pitch as a Red Sox, and having just got done helping to knock us out of the playoffs a few months ago.
Alexander Rodriguez leads off the second. Beckett’s change-up misses location, but he gets away with it, as A-Rod watches it. Next pitch, Rodriguez hits a high chopper near the mound, Beckett grabs it and throws a one-hopper to Youks, who hangs on for the out. Robinson Cano follows by flying out to Cameron routinely for the second out. Posada is next. Wonder if Pedro called him by the old nickname he gave him earlier?
Posada belts a liner down the right field line, and off the foul pole, and that’s the shortest home run you can hit in the majors. There goes the perfect game, the no-hitter, the shutout, and the tie score, just like that. Darn that Pesky pole.
Curtis Granderson makes his Yankee debut next, and he belts one way out to right field, nothing cheap about that one! Back-to-back home runs, 2-0 Yankees.
It’s all gone wrong so quickly. I blame that 5-year-old in the leisure suit.
Nick Swishy follows by lining a base hit over Pedroia’s head (insert short guy joke here.) Pitching coach John Farrell comes out to say “quit giving up all these rockets, please.” Doesn’t help, though as Brett Gardener drills a single to left.
Two on and two out for Jeter, Beckett just trying to stop the bleeding here. Beckett misses with a curve, he can’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes tonight, and they’re crushing his fastball.
2-2 count. Jeter bounces one to short that Scutaro handles, his flip to Pedroia just barely beating the hustling Gardner to finally end the inning. 2-0 bad guys in the 2nd.
Sabathia is now protecting a 2-0 lead early in the game, exactly where you don’t want to be against him. Youkilis starts the second. He belts one in the left-center gap that clangs off the wall. Granderson fires it in quickly, but Youkilis slides in safely. No more girl-armed Johnny Damon out there in CF, so be careful.
Ortiz steps in. Still a one-possession game. One Ray Allen three-pointer, and we’re winning. Ortiz fouls-off a hittable pitch over the heart of the plate, then rolls out to first, Youks taking third.
Adrian Beltre makes his Red Sox debut in exactly the situation we don’t want him in, with a man on 3rd and one out in a close game. But he crushes one to deep center! Granderson races back, leaps and makes the grab on the warning track! Youks tags and scores, but it looked like that one had a chance to get off the wall. Still, the lead is cut to 1.
Drew follows by getting called out on a third strike over the corner. After 2, it’s 2-1 bad guys.
New York Knick Johnson starts the third. He takes a called third strike that for some reason is called a ball, then takes another ball for a walk. Just what Beckett needed, thanks ump. The equine-faced Teixiaeirieria follows by popping out to Drew in shallow right.
A-Rod is next, and to the jeers of the crowd, he bounces into a routine 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Still 2-1 NY in the 3rd.
Mike Cameron leads off, his first Red Sox at-bat. He works a walk to start the inning, bringing up Marco Scutaro, for his first Red Sox at-bat. He takes a couple of strikes, then fouls one off. He cracks the next pitch on a line, but it’s right at A-Rod, who snags it and fires to first. Cameron gets back, but the ump calls him out anyway. Double play.
Back to the top of the order now with Ellsbury. He rolls out to Rodriguez to end the inning. I guess even if Cameron was still on first, that would’ve been a double play anyway. 2-1 NY after 3.
Cano leads off by smacking one off the Wall in left, just over Ellsbury’s leap. Cano trots in to second base with a double. Posada grounds to Pedroia, moving the runner to third. One out, runner on third for Granderson.
Granderson bounces one to Youkilis, who looks the runner back and steps on first for the out. Beckett with a chance to get out of this unscathed. Nick Swisher is next.
Beckett falls behind 3-1, then blazes a fastball that Swisher can’t catch up to. Full count now, and Swisher takes ball 4, Beckett missing outside with a curve.
Runners on the corners and two outs for Brett Gardner. Beckett falls behind 3-1 again. IN the owner’s box, Lebron is so into this big at-bat that he can’t stop texting on his phone, or even look up at the game. Surely he didn’t just come here to get his face on TV did he? Hey Lebron, why don’t you Witness this big at-bat?
Gardner takes a strike, full count again. Gardner fouls off the next pitch, as Beckett’s pitch count continues to rise. Garnder lines a base hit to left, driving in the run. Will Lebron look up from his phone?
Jeter now up, runners on first and second. Beckett’s first pitch is a change-up that is inside, almost hitting the plate-crowding Jeter. Jeter grounds the next one up the middle, past a diving Scutaro, for a hit! Swisher scores from second, Gardner speeds to third, and it’s 4-1. Getting ugly now.
Speaking of ugly, Nick Johnson steps in. Jeter takes off for second, Martinez throws to second, and Gardner breaks for home! Scutaro tries to cut off the throw, but he’s got to run too far to grab it, and he can only watch as Gardner steals home on the classic Little League trick play. What an embarrassment for the Red Sox. This new pitching and defense strategy looks pretty miserable in this inning.
Beckett finely fans Nick Johnson to end it, way too late. 5-1 Yankees in the 4th.
Pedroia leads off. Orsillo hopefully points out that Sabathia is now at 51 pitches, coming off a 21-minute wait. Pedroia bounces one to the right side, Teixieriaria makes a great stab, gets up and flips to the pitcher covering. Pedroia dives in to the base, looks like he might be safe, but no, first base ump Angel Hernandez calls him out. Pedroia leaps up, literally hopping mad, but that doesn’t do any good.
One out, no one on for Martinez. Youks’ double still the only Red Sox hit. Martinez grounds to A-Rod, who makes a nice 360-degree spin before throwing him out. Youkilis follows by popping out to Jeter to end the inning. 5-1 NY after 4.
Teixshareia will bat first for the Yankees. He flies out to Cameron in center, bringing up Rodriguez. Beckett might be in his last inning here if he throws a lot of pitches again. He’s laboring out there, taking a long time between pitches, still looking for his curveball. Don’t look in the strike zone, because it definitely hasn’t been seen there all night.
A-Rod pops out to Pedroia for the second out.
Cano blasts a ball off the fence in right field. Drew quickly barehands it and fires it in, skillfully holding Cano to a single. There’s some Red Sox defense, finally.
Brad Penny, I mean Beckett, falls behind Posada 2-0 on his 90th pitch. Posada works the count full, then fouls one off. He might be the last bitter Beckett will face tonight. The home plate ump calls time out with Beckett in the middle of his motion, for some reason. Yes, let’s slow things down here, it’s only 10 PM in the top of the 5th!
Beckett walks Posada on the next pitch, and here comes Francona to yank him. Pitching change, still 5-1 NY.
Now Scott Schoenweis is coming in to make his Red Sox debut. This could get really ugly.
Granderson is up with two on and two out. He was horrible against lefties last year, so that’s apparently why Schoenweis is in. Unfortunately, Schoenweis was horrible against everyone. He gets ahead 0-2, then throws a wild pitch, moving the runners up. But then he gets Granderson to wave weakly at the next pitch, whiffing him to end the inning. 5-1 NY in the 5th.
Sabathia faces Ortiz to start the inning. Ortiz pops out to Rodriguez. CC is throwing BBs tonight. Adrian Beltre is next, still looking for his first official Red Sox at-bat, after hitting a sacrifice fly earlier. This time, he chases a change-up out of the zone and whiffs.
Drew follows by cracking a single between Rodriguez and Jeter, the first Red Sox hit since the second inning. Mike Cameron steps in. He hooks a liner into left field for a single, Drew holds at second.
Scutaro is next. Two on and two out. Sox could really, really use a baserunner here. And Scutaro cracks a liner to left that falls in front of Gardner for a hit! Drew wheels around third and heads for home, and Gardner’s throw is about 30 feet offline! As it skips to the backstop, Drew scores, Cameron goes to third and Scutaro to second.
Ellsbury up now with two men in scoring position. He takes a called third strike, fooled by a breaking ball, and the inning is over. The Sox get a run, and now it’s 5-2 NY after 5.
Schoenweis stays in to face Swisher. Swisher grounds one between short and third. Scutaro ranges over, backhands it, and throws him out. Well maybe this new defense can help the pitching after all, as long as they keep the ball in the park.
Gardner flies out to shallow center for the second out. Francona comes out to pull Schoenweis, with Jeter coming up. Nice job by Schoenweis, who was picked up off the scrap heap late in spring training.
Ramon Ramirez now in to pitch, and Jeter smashes his first pitch up the middle for a hit. Nick Johnson follows by flying out to Cameron to end the inning. 5-2 NY in the 6th.
Pedroia starts the inning by drawing a walk. Victor slaps a double down the left field line, and Pedroia races to third. Remy points out that Sabathia might be tiring, now at 95 pitches. Youkilis up with two men in scoring position.
Sabathia falls behind 3-0. Tying run at the plate, you’ve got to give Youks the green light to swing, right? Guess not, as he takes a get-me-over fastball for strike one.
Youkilis slams the next pitch into right, over Swisher! Both runners score, and by the time Swisher gets to the ball and throws it back in, Youkilis chugs into third with a triple!
Ortiz is up next. Sabathia stays in the game to face him. Got to be his last batter of the night. Sabathia’s first pitch gets away from Posada, but he recovers quickly and Youkils has to dash back to third.
Ortiz shatters his bat and hits a flare to the right side. Youkilis has to hold up to see if it’ll be caught in the air– it drops to the ground and Cano throws out Ortiz at first, with the runner holding at third.
Girardi comes out to relieve Sabathia, who exits with a 5-4 lead.
Dave Robertson is in to pitch for NY. That’s Dave Robertson, not Dave Roberts‘ son, luckily. Beltre greets him by slashing a single past a stumbling Cano! Youkilis scores, and the game is tied!
Drew grounds out to Teixhsharia for the second out, then Cameron follows by grounding out to Rodriguez to end the inning. Red Sox winning 5-5 now!
Teixshara leads off, and Ramirez promptly walks him. Just rotten pitching there to walk the next hitter after your team rallies late to tie. Speaking of bad pitching, A-Rod slashes the next pitch high off the Green Monster for a double. Ugly from Ramirez. Francona is out to pull him.
Hideki Okajima is in to pitch now. Not sure why he didn’t start the inning. Cano is the hitter. He grounds one to Pedroia, who looks at home but throws Cano out at first instead. Tex scores, Yankees lead again.
Posada is next. He smacks a single up the middle, scoring A-Rod. Thanks Ramon Ramirez. That great comeback is now worthless.
Still only one out. Granderson walks, bringing up Swisher. Okajima gets him to ground to Beltre, who starts the around-the-horn double play to end the inning.
Now a “secret musical guest” is coming out to sing. Wow, Carly Simon looks like absolute hell, what in the world has she– oh wait no, it’s Steven Tyler. He screeches his way through “God Bless America,” because if there’s three things that Steven Tyler represents, it’s god and patriotism and baseball.
Hey, Chan Ho Park now plays for the Yankees. Who knew?
He is in to pitch to Marco Scutaro, who has to dive out of the way of the first pitch. He recovers, then slams a base hit past Cano.
Ellsbury’s looked bad tonight, and he’s due up next. Again, he is called out on strikes, taking one over the inside corner.
Orsillo and Remy say that Neil Diamond is going to sing “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning tonight. Or maybe they said Caroline Kennedy is going to sing Sweet Emotion, I’m getting confused by all the guest singers.
Pedroia is next and he crushes the next pitch, blasting it out onto Landsdowne Street! 2-run blast, and the game is tied again! 7-7 in the 7th. Chan Ho Park can’t keep the ball in Fenway Park. That shot might’ve gone out of Yellowstone Park.
Martinez is the next hitter. With a 2-2 count, he keeps stepping out and calling time, slowing the game down. I guess it was just going too fast, since it’s only 11:00 at night. He smacks a hot grounder to the right, and it kicks off Cano’s glove, but he recovers and throws out Martinez for the second out.
Youkilis follows by crushing one deep to left center, that clangs high off the Monster! He winds up at second with a double. So far, I’m enjoying the Chan Ho Park era with the Yankees. But now Girardi comes out to end all our fun, and yanks Park.
Damaso Marte is in to face Ortiz. And his first pitch is way outside for a wild pitch, sending Youkilis to third! Big RBI chance for Ortiz here. Four pitches later, he throws one high, and Posada reaches for it, but it smacks off his glove and rolls away! Youkilis trots home on the passed ball, and the Red Sox lead 8-7! A wild pitch and a passed ball for the gift run and the lead.
Marte goes on to walk Ortiz, and Giradri is out to pull him. Now that worse relievers have blown two leads and they’re behind, Girardi brings in Jabba Chamberlain to pitch. He’ll face Beltre.
Beltre bounces to Cano for the third out, 4-6. 8-7 Boston after 7.
The Immortal Dan Bard comes in to face Brett Gardner, and gets him to ground out to Pedroia.
Now here comes the top of the order, and Derek Jeter. Bard keeps pouring in 98-mile-per-hour fastballs, but Jeter battles him to a 3-1 count, then bounces out to Youkilis, with Bard covering.
Nick Johnson walks on four pitches, as Bard suddenly loses his command. Hopefully he doesn’t also lose the game, because now the heart of the Yankees order is coming up with the tying run on base.
Randy Winn comes in to pinch-run for Johnson, and Teixshariaia steps in to hit. Bard shaves his bat in half with a blazing heater, and Pedroia picks up the ball and tosses to Scutaro for the third out.
8-7 Red Sox in the 8th.
Now Neil Diamond comes out, wearing a baseball cap for probably the first time in his life. He’s also wearing a sport coat with “Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn” printed on the back. Ha-ha, he’s old and from New York and hasn’t watched baseball since 1958, what a perfect choice to sing at Fenway Park!
There are some audio problems with the karaoke machine as he starts to sing, but does anyone care? No they do not, because everyone is either singing loudly themselves or ducking out to the restroom.
He karaokes a bit of his famous song, and now we go to commercial.
Big Jabba is still in there. He looks positively svelte, when compared to C.C. Sabathia after a few months of celebration. Drew leads off for Boston.
J.D. grounds out to Rodriguez, but then Mike Cameron grounds a single past Cano.
Scutaro works the count full, then takes ball four. Two on and one out for Ellsbury, who gets yet another chance to do something positive with the bat in this game. He hits the ball fairly hard, but it’s right at Granderson for the second out. 0-5 tonight for Jacoby.
Pedroia picks him up, lining a base hit to right! Cameron motors around from second, sliding in ahead of the throw from Swisher. Scutaro scuttles to third.
Victor Martinez is next, and he flies out to Swisher to end the inning. 9-7 Sox after 8.
Jonathan Papelbon is in to pitch. As everyone remembers, in his last appearance, he blew a 2-run lead in the 9th to lose the game and end the season. Rodriguez will lead off for NY.
He smashes a one-hopper that Beltre snags. He throws him out easily, one down.
Cano follows by lofting a fly to left center that Ellsbury grabs for out number two.
With the Yankees down to their last out Posada does what he always does to the Red Sox and clangs a base hit.
Granderson comes up, representing the tying run. Papelbon gets up 0-2, then blazes a fastball over the inside corner for… ball one. No worrries, as Papelbon shaves Granderson’s bat in half with the next pitch, resulting in a roller to Beltre. Adrian throws him out, and the game is over! Red Sox win 9-7!
Down 5-1 to Sabathia in the 6th, then down 7-5 in the 7th, they battle back and show they may have a livelier offense than some people expected. Will they go 162-0 this year? If not, then who is to BLAME?
It’s always a fun night when you beat the Yankees, even at midnight on Easter. This was a good start to the long season. And the Magic Number for eliminating the Yankees is already down to 160!