Red Sox fall to Athletics in Game Two in Japan


Oakland’s Rich Harden’s nine strike outs help push the Athletics past the Red Sox

(Tokyo, Japan) – The Red Sox continued where they left off last year in yesterday’s 6-5 comeback win capped off by Manny Ramirez’s two doubles and four runs batted in. Today, they looked to start the season 2-0 against the Athletics before moving the opening series back to Oakland but Athletics starting pitcher, Rich Harden, would have none of it. Harden completed six innings allowing one run on three hits while striking out nine Red Sox batters and walking just two in Oakland’s 5-1 victory.

It took the Red Sox four innings until they got their first hit off Harden. Up until the fourth inning, Harden had thrown three complete innings without relinquishing a hit to a Sox batter. He walked two batters in that time period but no hit. Third baseman Mike Lowell was the first Sox batter to put the bat on the ball with a single to left. But the Sox could not do anything when Brandon Moss became Harden’s seventh strike out victim and catcher Jason Varitek grounded out to first baseman Daric Barton.

The Red Sox had their best chance to get to Harden in the top of the third when shortstop Julio Lugo walked with one out and first baseman Kevin Youkilis walked after Pedroia flied out to center. But Harden got out of the inning unscathed getting David Ortiz to hit a pop-foul fly down the third baseline that third baseman Jack Hannahan made a terrific catch on.

In his first outing of the year, Jon Lester pitched just four innings before being replaced by right hander David Aardsma. Through four innings, Lester allowed four runs on five hits while striking out four and walking three. Lester found himself in trouble in the third, walking the lead-off man, Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis, a bloop hit by designated hitter Mike Sweeney then followed by a three run homerun by left fielder Emil Brown. Brown’s first homerun of the season put Oakland up 4-0. But Lester would settle down in his last inning of work by mowing down the Athletics, one, two three, before being replaced in the fifth by Aardsma.

After relieving Lester in the fifth inning the Red Sox relievers held Oakland batters to just two hits while striking out three. Right hander David Aardsma, who came in immediately after Lester, would pitch 1 2/3 innings while striking out three, including back-to-back strike outs of Bobby Crosby and Hannahan, before rendering his first hit to catcher Kurt Suzuki. After Suzuki’s double to deep center, manager Terry Francona pulled him in favor of the left hander Javier Lopez. In Lopez’s second relief appearance of the season, he walked the first batter, pinch hitter Jack Cust, he faced but settled down getting Travis Buck to line out to left for the last out of the inning.

The Red Sox return to regular season action on April 1st when they will travel to McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, Ca. to play two more games with the Athletics. Before then, the Sox will play three exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 28-30.


WIN: Rich Harden (1-0)

LOSS: Jon Lester (0-1)


Game Notes:

Julio Lugo had the Red Sox first stolen base of the 2008 season in the top of the third inning with one out and Kevin Youkilis at the plate.

Manny Ramirez had the lone Boston run with his 491st career homerun with two outs in the top of the sixth. It was Ramirez’s first homerun on the season.

Starting in his first game of the 2008 season, Coco Crisp went 1-3 with a double and two strike outs.

Reliever Bryan Corey rendered the first run from a reliever in the bottom of the eighth on a base hit to center by centerfield Jeff Fiorentino, who came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh, to drive in Suzuki who had doubled.

Top 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Rich Harden, OAKLAND --- 6.0IP, 1ER, 3H, 9K, 3BB
  1. Emil Brown, OAKLAND --- 1-4 HR, 3 RBIs

  1. Manny Ramirez, BOSTON --- 1-4 HR, RBI – 491st HR of his career

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