« March 31, 2006
April 4, 2006 »
April 3, 2006
Bottom of ninth -- An ugly close for Foulke
Keith Foulke enters in a non-save situation -- perhaps a chance for the man who the Sox hope can reemerge as a closer this year to build some confidence. Adam Stern is in as a defensive replacement for Manny Ramirez in left field, and Stern makes the first play of the inning, catching Phil Nevin's lazy fly ball. Hank Blalock, who has given the Rangers their only highlight of the game, steps in and grounds a single to left field.
Next up is Kevin Mench, who supposedly boasts one of the largest hat sizes in Major League Baseball. He slams a double into left field. Stern crashes hard into the wall but fails to reach the ball; Blalock holds at third. Foulke's fastball looks flat. Now Laynce Nix rips the ball, to center, and Coco Crisp makes a spectacular leaping catch on the warning track. Blalock tags and trots home with the Rangers' third run.
And now Rod Barajas nearly takes a Foulke fastball out to right field, but the ball drifts foul. Not a moment too soon, Barajas grounds the ball to Mike Lowell, who fields and throws for the final out of the inning. The Red Sox win 7-3, and they're off to a 1-0 start.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:18 PM | Permalink
| Comments 3
Top of ninth -- A balanced effort for Boston
Big right-hander Antonio Alfonseca enters as the Rangers' fifth pitcher of the game. Keith Foulke is warming for the Red Sox. Mark Loretta leads off, and grounds out to second baseman Ian Kinsler. David Ortiz lines out on his first pitch to shortstop Michael Young, who is playing to the right side of second base as the Rangers employ the over shift. Manny Ramirez flies out softly to right fielder Kevin Mench to end the inning.
Every one of the Red Sox starters save Kevin Youkilis has had a hit in this game. Ortiz leads with three.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:09 PM | Permalink
Bottom of eighth -- Papelbon has an easy inning
Jonathan Papelbon enters the game in place of Curt Schilling, and J.T. Snow makes his Red Sox debut as a defensive replacement for Kevin Youkilis at first base. Brad Wilkerson leads off, and grounds out to second baseman Mark Loretta. Michael Young strikes out, waving at a breaking fastball from Papelbon. The first and second hitters in the Rangers' lineup, Wilkerson and Young, are now a combined 0-for-8. Papelbon works a quick no ball, two strike count against Mark Teixeira, who ends up flying out to Manny Ramirez in left.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:02 PM | Permalink
Top of eighth -- Lowell goes deep
Mike Lowell leads off by blasting his first Red Sox home run, a shot to left field off Joaquin Benoit. Kevin Youkilis grounds out to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Alex Gonzalez strikes out, failing to check his swing on a pitch way off the plate. Coco Crisp grounds out to deep short, Michael Young's throw scooped up nicely by first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:55 PM | Permalink
Bottom of seventh -- Schilling goes 1-2-3
Surprising this observer, Curt Schilling returns to start another inning. First to face him is Laynce Nix. Schilling's still throwing heat in the low 90s. Nix works the count full, then lines out to Trot Nixon in right field. Schilling gets Rod Barajas on a called strike three on the outside corner. It's Schilling's fifth strikeout. Schilling ends the inning by retiring Ian Kinsler for the first time, on a groundout to third baseman Mike Lowell. Today, Schilling has looked like the ace that Boston needs him to be.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:45 PM | Permalink
Top of seventh -- Ortiz strikes again
Alex Gonzalez leads off against Scott Feldman, and gets his second hit of the game, a single to right. Coco Crisp follows and grounds the first pitch sharply into left field for his first Boston hit. Gonzalez moves to second. Left-hander Brian Shouse and right-hander Joaquin Benoit get up in the Texas bullpen. Mark Loretta has a good at-bat, then hits a fly ball to shallow center field. Laynce Nix makes the catch and doubles up Gonzalez, who inexplicably gets caught way off second base.
Shouse, a former Red Sox farmhand, enters the game to face David Ortiz. He gets ahead, no balls and two strikes, but Ortiz can't be put away. Ortiz smokes a double into the right-center field gap, and Crisp motors all the way home from first base. Ortiz is now 6-for-13 lifetime against Shouse.
The Rangers intentionally walk Manny Ramirez to get to Trot Nixon. Nixon pokes a single off the end of his bat; Ortiz is forced to hold at third; and the Red Sox have the bases loaded, two outs, and Jason Varitek coming to the plate. Manager Buck Showalter emerges from the Rangers dugout and pulls Shouse from the game. Joaquin Benoit enters from the bullpen.
Varitek works a full count against Benoit, who is working very slowly. Varitek pops a foul ball into the WEEI broadcast booth. Then he grounds the ball to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who makes the unassisted putout to end the inning.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:34 PM | Permalink
Bottom of sixth -- Rangers score 2
Michael Young leads off against Curt Schilling, and works the count full. At this point, the Rangers are at least making Schilling work. Young hits the ball hard to left, but Manny Ramirez makes the catch, crashing into the wall. Mark Teixeira follows and also hammers the ball, but Coco Crisp makes the play on the warning track.
Phil Nevin fists the ball down the first-base line. It heads toward the corner, but hits the side wall in right field, then goes dead, and Nevin has to hold at first base. Hank Blalock follows with a low line drive over the left field fence for a home run, and the lead is cut to 5-2.
Kevin Mench is then quickly retired on a pop out to shortstop Alex Gonzalez. This is probably the end for Schilling, whose pitch count is around 100.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:08 PM | Permalink
Top of sixth -- New pitcher quiets Sox
Starter Kevin Millwood is done for the day, replaced by sidearm-throwing right-hander Scott Feldman. Jason Varitek, who went 2-for-2 against Millwood, leads off the inning. The Red Sox catcher worked the count full before grounding out to shortstop Michael Young. Mike Lowell then flew out softly to left-fielder Brad Wilkerson. Feldman then retired Kevin Youkilis on a called third strike.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:55 PM | Permalink
Bottom of fifth -- Texas strands a pair
Kevin Mench led off, grounding out to Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. Next up was Laynce Nix, tapped the ball halfway to the mound. Schilling fielded and threw Nix out. Rod Barajas picked up a two-out single, blooping the ball into right field. For the second time, Schilling couldn't put away rookie Ian Kinsler, who worked the Rangers' first walk, and Texas had its first threat of the game, with the top of the order coming back up.
Schilling thought he had Brad Wilkerson out on a called strike three, but home-plate umpire Gary Darling called the pitch low. With the count full, Wilkerson fouled off two pitches before popping up harmlessly to third baseman Mike Lowell.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:48 PM | Permalink
Top of fifth -- Big Papi hits a big blast
Kevin Youkilis led off by popping out to second baseman Ian Kinsler in short right field. Alex Gonzalez followed with his first hit as a Red Sox, a line-drive single to right field. Next up was Coco Crisp, who struck out looking in his first two at-bats. This time he made contact, but grounded the ball straight at first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira threw to second for the force, but a sharp takeout slide by Gonzalez and Crisp's hustle down the line prevented the double play.
Millwood kept a close eye on Crisp as Mark Loretta stepped in. Crisp took off on a 2-2 pitch, but Loretta fouled the ball off. Millwood thought he had strike three on the next pitch, but it was called a ball, and the count went full. Loretta took advantage, slapping a double to right-center field, easily scoring Crisp.
David Ortiz came to the plate in an RBI situation. Big Papi worked the count to his advantage, three balls and one strike. He then crushed the ball off high the right-field foul pole for a two-run home run.
That got Scott Feldman up in the bullpen for the Rangers. Manny Ramirez kept up the Red Sox assault, grounding a single straight up the middle on the first pitch from Millwood. Trot Nixon fell behind, no balls and two strikes, as Millwood turned to the curve ball in search of better results. Nixon hung tough, working the count even, and nearly got on base with a weak fly ball to right field. But Kevin Mench, after breaking back, ran in and made a sliding catch to end the inning.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:35 PM | Permalink
Bottom of fourth -- Four punch outs for Schilling
Michael Young stepped in against Curt Schilling. He grounded the ball sharply to first base, where it was fielded by Kevin Youkilis, who was playing off the bag. Schilling beat Young to first base and recorded the first out. Mark Teixeira dropped a single into left-center for the Rangers' second hit. Phil Nevin flew out to Manny Ramirez in left field. Schilling then got his fourth strikeout, blowing away Hank Blalock on three pitches.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:17 PM | Permalink
Photo: Schilling taking charge
Red Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling follows through after a pitch in the first inning this afternoon. He'd given up just one hit through three innings.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:15 PM | Permalink
Top of fourth -- Varitek draws first blood
Mark Loretta hit the ball well to left-center field, but Laynce Nix continued his excellent defensive game with another nice, running catch. David Ortiz followed, collecting his first hit of the year on a soft single to right field. Manny Ramirez became the victim of Kevin Millwood's third strikeout, failing to check his swing on a ball low and away. Trot Nixon walked on four pitches to put runners on first and second.
Jason Varitek smoked the ball to right, over the head of Kevin Mench and off the wall. Ortiz and Nixon scored, and Varitek cruised into second with a stand-up double.
Next up was Mike Lowell, who grounded to shortstop Michael Young for the final out.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:09 PM | Permalink
Bottom of third -- Schilling cruising along
The talented, often-injured outfielder Laynce Nix led off against Schilling, and got ahead in the count, three balls and no strikes. Schilling came back with a changeup for a called strike, then blew a 93-mph fastball by Nix for strike two. With the count full, Nix popped out to shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
Catcher Rod Barajas hit the first pitch he saw a mile in the air; Gonzalez caught it for out number two.
Rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler, in his first major-league at-bat, got his club's first hit of the year, lining a single to right field.
Back at the top of the order, Brad Wilkerson popped out to Trot Nixon in right field.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:58 PM | Permalink
Top of third -- Crisp again called out on strikes
First baseman Kevin Youkilis led off, and poked a ball to the opposite field that Kevin Mench put away for the first out. Light-hitting, sweet-fielding shortstop Alex Gonzalez was next. He also flew out to Mench in right. Back to the top of the order and Coco Crisp, who was called out on strikes for the second time in the game.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:50 PM | Permalink
Bottom of second -- Six Rangers up, six down
Rangers designated hitter Phil Nevin led off against Schilling, and hit a ball to center that Coco Crisp initially misjudged; the speedy center fielder recovered and made a sliding catch for the out. Hank Blalock then became Schilling's third strikeout victim, chasing a splitter for strike three. Kevin Mench chased Schilling's first offering; he was retired on a shallow fly ball to Crisp.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:43 PM | Permalink
Top of second -- no runs, first hit
Manny Ramirez poked a grounder to second, which rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler juggled before recovering to throw Ramirez out. Trot Nixon, hoping for an injury-free season after a difficult 2005, smashed the ball to right-center. But Laynce Nix made his second fine catch of the game, reaching up while running toward the wall to snag the ball from the air.
Two up, two down, and up came team captain Jason Varitek -- playing on opening day for the seventh straight season with the Red Sox. Varitek fell behind 0-2, but laid off the next two pitches from Millwood. With the count even, Varitek picked up the first hit of the season, grounding a ball deep to short. Michael Young fielded it, but was too off-balance to throw out Varitek. Another new Red Sox followed -- third baseman Mike Lowell, who ended spring training on a hot streak. Lowell chopped the ball to Rangers third sacker Hank Blalock, who forced out Varitek at second.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:37 PM | Permalink
Bottom of first -- Good start for Schilling
Roger Clemens got a standing ovation from the Texas crowd when he was introduced between innings. Curt Schilling took the mound -- the eyes of Red Sox Nation watching to see if he can regain his championship form of 2004. This is Schilling's first opening day start since 1999, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rangers sent their new outfielder, Brad Wilkerson, to the plate to lead off. Schilling buried him with an outside fastball, getting strike three swinging. Michael Young, the Rangers' All-Star shortstop, also struck out swinging, this time on a high fastball, which clocked 93 mph. Mark Teixeira, the formidable power-hitting first baseman, stood in on the left side of the plate. He was retired on a soft grounder to Mark Loretta.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:26 PM | Permalink
Top of first -- Sox down in order
Coco Crisp took the first pitch from Rangers starter Kevin Millwood for a ball. He ended up taking a called strike three. Next up was the Sox new second baseman, Mark Loretta, the club's 12th opening-day starter at second in the last 13 seasons. His foul pop-up was fielded by first baseman Mark Teixeira. David Ortiz, who entered the game with two home runs in four at-bats against Millwood, worked the count full, before blasting a line drive into the gap in right-center. Center fielder Laynce Nix, ranging to his left, made a lunging catch on the warning track to end the inning.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:16 PM | Permalink
Clemens visits Sox clubhouse / Photo
Clemens speaks to reporters after visiting the clubhouse before the season opener between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
Roger Clemens -- still weighing whether or not to pitch in 2006 -- visited the Red Sox' clubhouse this morning prior to the Opening Day game in Texas and spent more than an hour meeting with players and team officials.
Clemens, who reportedly had dinner with Sox ownership Sunday night, was a guest of the Rangers, who flew him from in Houston to attend pregame ceremonies honoring the University of Texas' national championship football team. Clemens has said that if he pitches this season it will only be for the Red Sox, Rangers, Astros or Yankees, and that he hasn't decided either who he'll pitch for or whether he'll pitch.
Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and David Wells were among the players who met with Clemens, along with manager Terry Francona, owner Tom Werner and general manager Theo Epstein. Afterwards Clemens met with the media and said some members of his family were excited about the idea of his ending his career where he started it, in Boston.
Still, he made it clear he hasn't made up his mind and may not decide to pitch again until midseason.
Two members of the Red Sox coaching staff -- pitching coach Al Nipper and first-base coach Bill Haselman -- were teammates of Clemens' with the Sox. He has been close friends with Nipper for more than 20 years, and he and Haselman forged a bond in 1996 during their one year together in Boston. Haselman was the catcher when Clemens tied the strikeout record by fanning 20 in Detroit.
-- Art Martone, with reports from Sean McAdam in Texas
Posted by Art at 1:11 PM | Permalink
The Roger Clemens welcoming committee
The competition between Texas and Boston is not limited to who wins and who loses today's opener. Free-agent pitcher Roger Clemens is expected to appear at Ameriquest Field for today's game as a guest of the Rangers -- just one of the teams interested in acquiring the Rocket's services later on this spring. Of course, the Sox are interested in making sure the 43-year-old Clemens ends his major league career where it started: Fenway Park.
Dallas Morning News writer Kevin Sherrington is telling Rangers fans to give Roger a warm welcome today, in hopes that they might influence him to sign on and help sturdy Texas' wobbly rotation. "Tell him you hate Mike Piazza," Sherrington recommends. "Ask him if he can start Tuesday."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:31 AM | Permalink
| Comments 1
Disgruntled Rangers get set for Sox
Hope springs eternal on opening day, but according to a story in today's Dallas Morning News, the Texas Rangers aren't the happiest bunch this morning.
Rangers players are apparently disappointed about the club's weekend trade of outfielder David Dellucci, who has been a team leader the last two seasons. Dellucci was shipped to Philadelphia for young pitcher Robinson Tejada and minor leaguer Jake Blalock, the younger brother of Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock.
The trade was prompted by number-two starter Adam Eaton's injury in the final week of spring training. In a flurry of late activity, the Rangers also acquired young left-handers in trades with the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics.
While there are questions in the Rangers' starting rotation, they don't involve Kevin Millwood, today's starter. The Red Sox showed some interest in acquiring Millwood this offseason, but the Rangers trumped what Boston was willing to offer last year's American League E.R.A. leader with a five-year, $60-million deal. It will be Millwood's second chance to be a major league ace; he didn't exactly fill the bill as the Phillies' number one starter in 2003 and 2004.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:20 AM | Permalink
Projo.com readers predict modest success for Red Sox
A new season starts today, and New England fans will be getting themselves acquainted with an entirely different Boston Red Sox team. With so many new faces in the starting lineup, younger faces on the pitching staff and a more defensive-oriented team on the field, what to expect is really anybody's guess.
Most Projo.com readers responding to a survey on the Sox prospects predicted that this team will at least contend for a playoff spot, but there is less confidence that the team can go deep into the playoffs. Twenty-nine percent of the 215 respondants predicted that the Red Sox will fall short of the playoffs for the first time in four years; only 18 percent feel that this team is capable of a World Series run.
This post fairly sums up the wait-and-see attitude: "They almost have a new team. Their power MAY be a little less but their defense and pitching will be better. I have ofter heard that pitching and defense win ball games ... I have to believe they will be contenders and could win it it all if the pitching falls apart in NY, as expected."
Given the club's mediocre preseason performance, other fans are much more subdued. "Seeing what is on the field so far not much better than 500 ball," wrote one Sox skeptic. "At least living in LA area I can see Red Sox west, probably about same type of club." The Los Angeles Dodgers this year feature former Boston mainstays Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe and Bill Mueller, along with manager Grady Little.
For those who see no limit to the team's chances in 2006, the taste of past success is still fresh, and club management's track record is not to be ignored. Here's what one enthuisiastic observer had to say: "Got to love these Sox. Management knows how to put a competitive team on the field. Here we come Yankees!!"
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:28 AM | Permalink