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April 2, 2007
What they were saying ...
GIL MECHE: “I’ve never admitted to being nervous before a game ... but this one was a little nerve-racking. I felt fine until I actually got across the white lines and thought to myself, ‘This is opening day. This is a big deal.' “I’ve always been nervous opening day, and I’ve never pitched opening day.” --AP
MECHE (on his standing ovation): “It was great, something I’ll never forget, being a part of this. The standing ovation was an unbelievable feeling for me.” --AP
CURT SCHILLING: “Physically, I felt fine. I just didn’t execute and didn’t adjust. One thing I’ve always preached to young pitchers is about the ability to make a mistake on a pitch and come back and make an adjustment on the very next pitch. I didn’t do that today.” --AP
TERRY FRANCONA (on taking Schilling out after four innings): “Four innings, 89 pitches. Those were four hard innings.” --AP
MARK GRUDZIELANEK: “I’m sure Curt didn’t have his good stuff. I had the approach in the past where I was way too aggressive with him. I tried to really make sure I got a pitch that I could hit, drive, It was just one of those things where it worked out today where I got decent counts and got him to throw something over the plate.” --AP
JOE BUCK (on his home run off Sox reliever Hideki Okajima): “I knew it was his first pitch in the big leagues. I figured he was going to try to be aggressive with his first guy, so I was just looking for my pitch out over the plate. He happened to throw it right there. It was a good pitch to hit, a fastball.” --AP
OKAJIMA (on Buck's homer): “I was surprised, because I thought the batter would look at the first pitch because he didn’t know me. But instead of looking, he hit it.’’ --SEAN McADAM
OKAJIMA (on settling down): “My experience in Japan helped a lot about settling down. A home run is a home run. I moved on. I concentrated (after that) and I executed.’’--SEAN McADAM
FRANCONA (on Okajima's performance): “The first pitch didn’t go as planned. He tried to get ahead and Buck hit it good. After that, he pitched pretty good.’’--SEAN McADAM
FRANCONA (on Dustin Pedroia base-running blunder and overall performance): “His timing was OK, with two outs but he was a little too aggressive. But the good news is he’s swinging the bat well.’’--SEAN McADAM
SCHILLING: "I made mistake after mistake. Part of being a No. 1 is going out and winning when you don’t have your best stuff. It was one of those games where I didn’t execute."--SEAN McADAM
FRANCONA (on Schilling): "He didn’t command. He was up with a lot of his pitches. It was tough for him right from the get-go -- a lot of deep counts."--SEAN McADAM
KEVIN YOUKILIS: "If you’re going to get upset at losing one game, it’s going to be a long year. If a team loses only 60 games in a season, that’s a great year. People are going to get all worried. We want to win them all, but I don’t think anybody ever went 162-0."--BOSTON GLOBE
MIKE LOWELL (on Schilling): "For him, he's so pinpoint. I'm not really too worried about his location for the season. He'll be fine. I would have bet my house he wouldn't walk a guy with the bases loaded, but it happens." --MLB.com
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 8:43 PM | Permalink
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Just a reminder . . .
Listen to Sean McAdam discuss today's game, and talk about the Red Sox general, on Projo SportsTalk with Art Martone tomorrow. Their conversation will be online by noon.
Posted by Art Martone at 7:20 PM | Permalink
Royals crush Sox in opener
Good pitching. Airtight defense. Timely, two-out hitting. It all came together this afternoon at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City.
Just not for the Red Sox.
In a reversal of roles, the Royals looked like the World Series contenders and the Sox like the perennial American League doormats as Kansas City romped to a 7-1 victory in the season opener on a beautiful, sun-splashed day. You name the element of the game, and it was an element in which the Royals dominated the Sox.
Like pitching. Gil Meche was the much-ridiculed signing this winter; the consensus was the Royals grossly overpaid for the former Mariner mediocrity. But he baffled the Sox all afternoon, allowing only six hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
By contrast, his high-profile counterpart, Curt Schilling, was gone by the fifth inning, having been touched for eight hits and five runs. It was the first Opening Day loss of his brilliant career.
Like hitting. Veteran infielder Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and three RBI, and Mark Teahan, Mike Sweeney, John Buck and Tony Pena Jr. added three hits. The Sox, meanwhile, were held to eight hits -- six singles and two doubles.
And like fielding. Pena was particularly brilliant at shortstop, making several eye-popping plays.
But, in reality, it was merely a resurrection of a Boston tradition. They won their first game handily in Texas last year, but prior to that the Sox had lost five consecutive openers, some by humiliating scores. Like 9-2 in New York against the Yankees in 2005. And 7-2 against the Orioles in Baltimore in 2004.
In that light, today didn't seem so bad. Besides: The Sox made the playoffs in both those seasons . . . and won a World Series in '04.
What do you think? Was today a fluke, or a sign of bad things to come?
Posted by Art Martone at 6:46 PM | Permalink
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Meche leaves to standing ovation
A lot of people ridiculed Kansas City's big-money signing of unheralded pitcher Gil Meche, but Meche got his Kansas City career off to a great start today. After struggling somewhat in the first inning, Meche settled down to stifle Red Sox bats over 7-plus innings. Meche has just yielded to reliever Joel Peralta. He leaves a runner on first base with one out in the eighth. His line: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 6:27 PM | Permalink
This story isn't getting any better
Japanese left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. His first pitch in the major leagues was hit deep and far by John Buck for a home run. Kansas City 6, Boston 1.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 6:00 PM | Permalink
Base running blunders
The Red Sox have run into two outs at second base today. In the second, left fielder Ross Gload easily threw out Dustin Pedroia as Pedroia tried to extend a single into a double. The play ended the inning for Boston.
Just now, in the top of the sixth, Kevin Youkilis hit a hot shot to third. Rookie Alex Gordon stopped the ball, then threw wildly to first. But Mark Grudzielanek (there's that man again) was right in position to back up the ball, and he threw for the out at second as Youkilis ill-advisedly tried to take an extra base.
Kansas City still leads, 5-1, after 5 1/2 innings.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:52 PM | Permalink
Schilling removed after four innings
Left-hander Javier Lopez has entered the game in relief to start the bottom of the fifth inning. Schilling's line: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:46 PM | Permalink
Kansas City extends lead to 5-1
Mark Grudzielanek continues to have a big day for the Kansas City Royals. The veteran second baseman doubled to right field in the fourth inning, driving in Joe Buck and Tony Pena Jr. He came around to score when the next batter, Mark Teahen, singled up the middle.
Grudzielanek is 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs, and Kansas City leads 5-1 after four innings. Curt Schilling remains in the game for Boston.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:32 PM | Permalink
Nixon gets off to a good start in Cleveland
Trot Nixon had a nice Cleveland Indians debut today, going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and three runs scored as the Tribe trounced the Chicago White Sox, 12-5, in Chicago. Nixon's replacement in Boston, J.D. Drew, has reached base in his first two at-bats, walking and singling.
Another member of the 2006 Red Sox, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as his new team, the Cincinnati Reds, beat the Cubs, 5-1, at home.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 5:29 PM | Permalink
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Royals take lead in second
The Kansas City Royals took the lead in the second inning, as Curt Schilling continued to struggle on the mound. With one out, new acquisition and number 9 hitter Tony Pena Jr. slugged a triple to deep right, Coco Crisp stumbling as he tried to play the carom. Schilling came back to strike out David DeJesus looking, but Mark Grudzielanek singled between second and first to score Pena.
At the end of two innings, it's Kansas City 2, Boston 1.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:59 PM | Permalink
Schilling walks one in during first
Curt Schilling had a rough first inning for the Boston Red Sox, giving up three straight singles before walking Ryan Shealy with the bases loaded, scoring Mark Grudzielanek. Kansas City couldn't cash in further, as Ross Gload flew out to Coco Crisp to end the inning. It's all tied up after one.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:44 PM | Permalink
No snood for Manny
Manny Ramirez appeared in the lineup for the first time today without the snood he wore over his hair for most spring training games, letting his long dreads flow down his back. In his first at-bat, he flew out to Kansas City center fielder David DeJesus.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:31 PM to Projo Mannybeingmanny
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Ortiz puts Boston on top
David Ortiz doubled home Kevin Youkilis, who reached on a single, in the top of the first inning in Kansas City to give the Red Sox an early lead in their season-opening game. Curt Schilling is now on the mound as Kansas City comes to bat.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:26 PM | Permalink
Yankees 9, Devil Rays 5
The New York Yankees overcame a rough outing by starter Carl Pavano and three errors to defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 9-5, in today's season opener at Yankee Stadium.
New York scored four runs off three Tampa Bay relievers after Devil Rays starter Scott Kazmir left in the sixth inning. The Yanks got home runs from Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez.
Pavano, who has still yet to win a game at Yankee Stadium since being signed before the 2005 season, went 4.1 innings, giving up all five Tampa Bay runs, four of them earned.
Luis Vizcaino, picked up in the offseason as part of the Randy Johnson trade, pitched one inning to get the win in relief. Reliever Brian Stokes took the loss for Tampa Bay.
Johnny Damon left the game in the sixth inning after reportedly suffering cramps.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:23 PM | Permalink
Those worries about Rocco? Never mind
In his second at-bat of the season, the oft-injured Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays pulled up lame after popping up in the third inning of today's game against the New York Yankees. Baldelli is in the game as a designated hitter. There is no information yet about his condition. New York leads, 2-1, in the bottom of the third inning at Yankee Stadium.
UPDATE: Reports of Rocco's demise were vastly premature. He stayed in the game, singled home a run, stole a base, and scored himself as the Devil Rays knocked Carl Pavano out of the game and took a 5-3 lead after 4 1/2 innings at Yankee Stadium.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:07 PM | Permalink
A beautiful day in Kansas City
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY -- The weather here is as beautiful as it was in Florida last week: 80 degrees, sunny, just perfect baseball weather. A great day for an opener.
In his pregame meeting with the media, Terry Francona said Julian Tavarez will pitch a simulated game tomorrow. He'll be working against the extras: Eric Hinske, Alex Cora, Wily Mo Pena and Doug Mirabelli.
Francona also said Mike Timlin, recovering from a strained oblique muscle, will pitch a camp game tomorrow in Fort Myers. After that he will join the Pawtucket Red Sox on a rehab assignment and will pitch the seventh inning in their season opener Thursday in Charlotte. Then he will be the starting pitcher (though will only work an inning or two) on Saturday, also in Charlotte.
More news later . . .
Posted by Art Martone at 1:50 PM to McAdam
Good start for the Yanks, not for A-Rod
One inning is in the books in New York, the fans have already booed Alex Rodriguez twice, and the potent Yankee lineup has scored two runs.
Rodriguez was charged with an error in the first inning after he badly misplayed a foul popup hit by Tampa Bay's Ty Wigginton with two out and a runner on third. But Yankee starter Carl Pavano got Wigginton to ground out back to the mound, ending the Tampa Bay first.
In the bottom of the inning, Rodriguez came to the plate with two men on and one man out, and he struck out swinging, inviting more negativity from the fans in the Bronx. But the next batter, Jason Giambi, singled off Devil Ray starter Scott Kazmir, scoring Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu. It's 2-0 Yanks after an inning.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:38 PM | Permalink
Now *here's* a fan
Colleague M. Charles Bakst, the Journal's political columnist, came by with a page from a Red Sox trivia calendar that said Ted Williams hit .323 with 31 home runs and 145 RBI as a rookie in 1939. ''I think that's wrong,'' he said. ''I thought Williams hit .327 that year.''
We looked it up. And sure enough, Williams did hit .327 in 1939.
Charlie, by the way, plans a column next week about being in the stands at Yankee Stadium for Billy Rohr's near no-hitter in April 1967.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 12:08 PM to Martone
A real April fool
I'm sure a lot of you have followed this as it unfolded, but David Pinto posted a story on Baseball Musings that a Kansas City radio statio was reporting Curt Schilling broke his arm in a car accident this morning. A call to the radio station proved that it was an April Fool's joke by some morning drive-time announcer.
When it was pointed out to the station that April Fool's Day was yesterday, they said, well, yeah, but the DJ wasn't on the air yesterday -- it being Sunday -- and he hated the opportunity to pass up a good joke.
Be curious to see what, if anything, the butt of the joke will have to say about all this.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 11:50 AM to Martone
Projo SportsTalk with Art Martone
We've just posted the second edition of our weekly feature. This week, Art, sports writer Joe McDonald and sports department assistant Bob McGarry discuss the coming American League East race, and how they think the Red Sox stack up.
Click here to hear their discussion.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:51 AM to Martone
Today's starting lineups
Here are the Red Sox and Royals starting lineups for today, according to MLB:
1. Julio Lugo, ss
2. Kevin Youkilis, 1b
3. David Ortiz, dh
4. Manny Ramirez, lf
5. J.D. Drew, rf
6. Mike Lowell, 3b
7. Jason Varitek, c
8. Coco Crisp, cf
9. Dustin Pedroia, 2b
P - Curt Schilling
1. David DeJesus, cf
2. Mark Grudzielanek, 2b
3. Mark Teahen, rf
4. Mike Sweeney, dh
5. Alex Gordon, 3b
6. Ross Gload, lf
7. Ryan Shealy, 1b
8. John Buck, c
9. Tony Pena Jr., ss
P - Gil Meche
Today's weather forecast looks more like mid-June than early April.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:28 AM | Permalink
Royals' closer on the shelf today
Kansas City Royals closer Octavio Dotel, a free-agent signing in the offseason, will not be used in today's game because he is still recovering from a slight strain in his left oblique, according to the Kansas City Star.
The newspaper says Dotel may be ready later in the three-game series. For now, the club plans to use former Red Sox reliever David Riske as interim closer.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:11 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Monday, April 2
A local (and sometimes not-so-local) look at the world of baseball . . .
THE OLD TOWNE TEAM: Sean McAdam identifies the five essential questions facing the Red Sox as they head into the season (projo.com) . . . Red Sox owner John Henry gives an interview to boston.com in which he calls the return of Roger Clemens ''a very real possibility'' (boston.com) . . . An interesting look at the pervasive Red Sox online presence from the Hartford Courant's Paul Doyle (Hartford Courant) . . . In the midst of a look at the home-run leaders of each franchise, Joe Posnanski writes that Grady Little wanted to keep a middle infielder over David Ortiz as the final roster cutdowns were being made in 2003. I've never heard that before and, thinking back to the '03 roster, I can't imagine who the middle infielder would have been. (Lou Merloni, maybe?) The reason it might be true: The Sox had also picked up Jeremy Giambi that offseason to do essentially the same job Ortiz would have done, and there was considerable sentiment back then that Giambi was the better hitter. (Oh, yes, there was.) They'd also traded for Giambi, meaning they had more invested in him than they did in Ortiz, whom they signed when he was non-tendered by the Twins. Ortiz only got to play regularly when a) Giambi imploded and b) the Sox traded Shea Hillenbrand, breaking the first-base/third-base/designated-hitter logjam that existed between Hillenbrand, Giambi, Ortiz, Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller. Little's thinking might have been influenced by the fact that he just didn't see a role for Ortiz at the time (thesoulofbaseballblogspot.com) . . . Of course, if he'd gotten his way, these two guys might just have imploded themsevles (survivinggrady.com).
TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: Sorry, but I just can't forget 1967. (projo.com)
CAUGHT ON TAPE: The blog Balls, Sticks & Stuff has video of Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching against the Phillies Saturday. Note: You'll need Adobe Flash Player 9 to see it. (ballsstickstuff.com)
OUR FRIENDS TO THE SOUTH: The New York Post's Joel Sherman says an early goodbye to A-Rod, since ''there is not a person I talk to in the Yankee organization -- player or executive -- who thinks you are staying beyond this year.'' (New York Post)
SECOND THOUGHTS: Former Braves star Dale Murphy now thinks he should have spoken up about steroids when he was playing. (New York Daily News)
I PREDICT . . . On his always entertaining Baseball Musings site, David Pinto picks the Yankees over the Red Sox in the A.L. East. (Scroll down the page a bit.) He points out that 150 innings of Julian Tavarez in the starting rotation instead of 150 innings of Jonathan Papelbon means that, while the Sox will probably be better in protecting late leads with Papelbon as closer, there may not be as many leads to protect with Tavarez in the rotation (baseballmusings.com) . . . Old friend Tim Daloisio has listed his predictions on the terrific The Red Sox Times site. He has them winning 96 games and the World Series title (redsoxtimes.com) . . . Diamond Mind has calculated that they'll finish third, with the same 86-76 record they had last year (espn.com) . . . Science Daily is more optimistic. It says they'll win 87 games and finished tied with Toronto for second (ScienceDaily.com)
HE PREDICTS: I don't know what's more impressive: Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak, or my good friend Lou DiLullo's consecutive-years streak of picking the Yankees to win the World Series and the Red Sox to finish third. (To be fair, though, Lou doesn't mention the World Series this time around, just the A.L. East.) It is, as he admits, a "A Very Yankee View" (From A Diehard Fan), but if you're a Yankee fan, you'll like Lou. If you admire passion and loyalty in any walk of life, you'll like Lou. And if you're a Red Sox fan, well, I think it's safe to say you won't like Lou, as will become easily apparent as you scroll down Louie's Lines (yankeetradition.com).
WE PREDICT: Come back around noon today to hear the latest Projo Sports Talk with Art Martone, in which we discuss the 2007 A.L. East race. (projo.com)
IT ISN'T? Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi makes an interesting comment -- that Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers' business "isn't baseball" while "[the] Yankees, Red Sox -- their business in baseball" -- in a Toronto Globe and Mail story about why Toronto won't get involved in the Asian market for players. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
NOT DEAD YET: Apparently, there's still a possibility the Extra Innings package will wind up on cable TV again, after all. The Biz of Baseball blog is following the negotiations, and will probably be a good place to check today if you're interested. (The Biz of Baseball.com)
OLD FRIENDS: Brandon Lyon will be the main set-up reliever in Arizona (mlb.com) . . . Nomar Garciaparra's brother Michael has been designated for assignment by the Mariners, throwing into doubt his future with the Seattle organization. He was the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2001 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) . . . Bruce Chen has found a job with the Rangers. Mama, let your babies grow up to be left-handed (Dallas Morning News) . . . Dustin Hermanson apparently thinks he can get a major-league job somewhere, because he accepted his release from the Reds rather than an assignment to their minor-league affiliate in Louisville (mlb.com).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:47 AM to Martone
, Projo Sox Crawl
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