Opening Day in Japan

Rookie Brandon "Randy" Moss, not Jacoby Ellsbury, propels Red Sox to Extra Innings Win

(Tokyo, Japan) – Even with a 6:00am start, Red Sox faithful were still able to see their team come back from a 4-3 deficit to the Oakland Athletics, 6-5, on March 25, 2008. Fans watched on televisions in the Boston area on a Tuesday morning to see rookie Brandon Moss’s first homerun of his major league career, to tie the game at four in the bottom of the nine.

Moss’s homerun gave Manny Ramirez the opportunity to put the Red Sox on top for the second time in the game. Ramirez took a 1-2 pitch from Oakland closer Huston Street to deep right field, just over the head of outfielder Jeff Fiorentino to score Julio Lugo and David Ortiz. Ramirez came through earlier in the sixth inning to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead after Ortiz popped out to third. But Oakland would rebound with a two run homerun of their own by Jack Hannahan in the bottom to score shortstop Bobby Crosby.

Ramirez’s extra innings base clearing double, paved the way for closer Jonathan Papelbon to make his 2008 season debut in the bottom of tenth. Papelbon’s first outing was not without anxiety. After walking Oakland first baseman Daric Barton to leadoff the tenth, Papelbon struck out designated hitter Jack Cust but allowed an RBI double to right center by left fielder Emil Brown to score Barton. Brown was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple for the second out. Crosby and Hannahan followed with two base hits of their own but Papelbon had none of it and got catcher Kurt Suzuki ground out to Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Earlier in the game the second basemen had the first hits of the season with Dustin Pedroia leading off the game with a single up the middle off of Joe Blanton; while Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis took Daisuke Matsuzaka deep to left-center in the bottom of the first.

Pitching on his home turf to start the season, Matsuzaka got off to a shaky started walking four batters in the first two innings including walking the bases loaded twice. But he was able to get out of it both times with Crosby grounding back to Matsuzaka and striking out Hannahan in the bottom of the first and Cust in the second. The Red Sox right hander settled down in the third, to pitch five innings with six strike outs while walking just five and allowing two hits and two earned runs but he would not get the decision.

As soon as Matsuzaka settled down after a tumultuous first two innings, it allowed the Red Sox offense to go to work in the top of the sixth inning. Pedroia led off the inning with a double to deep right field, which Oakland rightfielder Travis Buck misplayed. Youkilis followed with a walk to bring David Ortiz to plate with no outs and two men on. Ortiz hit a foul fly to Hannahan for the first out of the inning but Manny Ramirez made up for his Dominican brother’s failure. Ramirez doubled down the left field line to score both Pedroia and Youkilis to tie the game.

The Red Sox next play tomorrow against the Oakland Athletics at 6:05am at the Tokyo Dome where they try to make it 2-0 against the Athletics with Sox lefty Jon Lester facing A’s right hander Rich Harden.

Game Notes:

J.D. Drew was scratched before the game with tightness in his lower back so the young Moss got the Opening Day Start in right field for the defending champion Boston Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury got the start in centerfield over incumbent Coco Crisp only to go 1-for-3, with a single to left field in the seventh and striking out looking in his first at-bat of the season. Crisp has still be hampered by the nagging groin injury which is one of the mitigating factors why Ellsbury started the day in centerfield. There is the possibility of Crisp starting tomorrow’s game against Oakland’s right hander Rich Harden.

There were a total of two double plays in today’s game with the Red Sox grounding into both of them. Two guesses who those players were? You guessed it. Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo.



WIN: Hideki Okajima (1-0)
LOSS: Huston Street (0-1)
SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (1)

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Manny Ramirez, BOSTON 2-5 4 RBIs
  2. Brandon Moss, BOSTON 2-5 HR
  3. Jack Hannahan, OAKLAND 2-4 2 RBIs

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