Kevin Youkilis’s sacrifice fly in the third and double in the sixth, propel the Sox to a 5-0 victory over Detroit


Kevin Youkilis’s sacrifice fly in the third and double in the sixth, propel the Sox to a 5-0 victory over Detroit

(April 8, 2008) – On a very emotional day at Fenway Park, the Red Sox returned home to receive their 2007 World Series rings and to take on the disappointing, 0-6 Detroit Tigers. Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka did not disappoint the 36,000-plus who flocked to the Back Bay to catch the Sox on their 97th Opening Day at the old ballpark. Matsuzaka’s second win of the season ended the team’s three game losing streak, brought them back to the .500 mark on the season and gave Detroit their seventh loss on the season.

The day was also a very special day, not just because the Red Sox finally playing on their home turf, but because it also saw the return of Bill Buckner to Fenway Park. It was just over 21 years ago Buckner made the ill-fated prophecy on October 6, 1986 only for it to come true 19 days later. Now Buckner was coming back to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day the year after the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years. When Red Sox public address announcer, Carl Beane announced Buckner's name and stepped out from behind the 2007 Championship banner draped over the Green Monster, Red Sox Nation erupted in cheers.

It was an emotional moment for not just Buckner but also the fans. As he walked to the mound to throw out the first pitch of the 2008 season at Fenway Park, he wiped a tear from his left eye. When he finally reached the mound he exhaled and just stood there for a moment before throwing the first pitch to his former 1986 teammate Dwight Evans.

The Red Sox would score one-run in three consecutive innings (second to fourth). Right fielder J.D. Drew would get things started in the second inning with a base hit to center to lead-off the inning. After a balk by Kenny Rogers and base hit by Jason Varitek, Drew would score on a sacrifice fly by center fielder, Coco Crisp, to Detroit center fielder, Brandon Inge.

An inning later, left fielder, Manny Ramirez would hit a long drive to the Triangle for triple but would end up scoring on second baseman Placido Polanco’s throwing error. It was Polanco’s first error on the season. Rogers would go on to get third baseman Mike Lowell to fly out to center, strike out Drew and get Jason Varitek to fly out to right for end the third.

The next inning, with one out Julio Lugo would hit an infield single to third and advance to second on third baseman, Miguel Cabrera’s throwing error. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia would send Lugo to third with a base hit up the middle and first baseman Kevin Youkilis would drive him in with another sacrifice fly to Inge in center.

After the Red Sox got the lead, Matsuzaka went to work on Detroit batters. In 6 2/3 innings, he struck out seven Tiger hitters, increasing his strike out totals to 22 on the young season. By pitching into the seventh, before being relieved by right hander, Manny Delcarmen, Matsuzaka gave the Sox bullpen much needed rest. Combined the Sox relievers nearly pitched a full game (8.1) innings in the weekend series against Toronto.

The Red Sox look to take game two of the series tomorrow night when they send left hander Jon Lester to the mound to face Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman. Lester is looking for his second win on the season after coming off a 5-0 win against the Oakland Athletics while Bonderman is coming off a 4-1 loss to Kansas City. In the losses Bonderman went 6.1 innings allowing 4 earned runs on eight hits, he is 0-1 on the season with a 5.68 ERA. Lester, on the other hand, is 1-1 with 3.38 ERA and seven strike outs.

WIN: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0)

LOSS: Kenny Rogers (0-2)


Game Notes:

In the last four years the Red Sox are 4-0 on Opening Day – with wins against the Yankees in 2005, Blue Jays in 2006 and Mariners in 2007 – at home and are 63-45 overall.

Delcarmen pitched an inning and a third in relief of Matsuzaka before turning the reigns over to Hideki Okajima to get the final three outs of the home opener.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOSTON 6.2IP, 4H, 0ER, 7K, 3BB

Kevin Youkilis, BOSTON 3-3 2B, 2 RBIs

Julio Lugo, BOSTON 2-4 2 Runs-scored

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