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Daisuke Matsuzaka got off to a bit of a rough start in his home country, as he allowed 2 runs in the first inning and was very lucky that it was not more as he loaded the bases in the first and the second. He would end up calming down on his way to pitching five innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs. The killer for Dice-K was the walks, as he allowed 5. He struck out 6 Oakland batters and left the game with a lead.
Joe Blanton pitched very well to start the game for the Athletics, going until the 6th inning without giving up a run. He allowed more hits than Dice-K (7) and more runs (3) he sat down three Red Sox players by way of the ‘K’ and walked only 1.
Oakland got their season started right as Mark Ellis pushed a homerun over the centerfield wall in the first, the ball looked as though it would fall but ended up carrying making it just barley over the fence. The A’s then put one more run on the board and the inning was ended. The Red Sox bats were fairly quiet until the 6th inning. As they managed to pull ahead when Manny Ramirez knocked a pitch down the third base line that barley squeaked by the Oakland third baseman scoring both Julio Lugo from second and Kevin Youkilis from first. Then rookie Brandon Moss, who was not even in the line up until J.D. Drew complained of back stiffness shortly before first pitch, knocked a single into center to score Manny from second.
Kyle Snyder then came in for the Sox and pitched an inning and a third. He gave up the lead when Jack Hannahan drove a pitch out of the park for his first homerun of the season. The two hits were the only Snyder allowed. Javier Lopez and Bryan Corey then combined to throw an inning and two thirds of no hit ball.
Once Blanton left the game, former Red Sox reliever Alan Embree entered the game and kept the lead. Keith Foulke, another former Red Sox reliever, relieved Embree by pitching a perfect inning, striking out one.
Boston looked to be on the ropes after Huston Street struck out Mike Lowell in the ninth. With Brandon Moss coming up the Athletics closer just needed to put down the rookie and retire the teams captain and the A’s would walk off with the win. Fairly simple right? Wrong, rookie Brandon Moss pounded a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall to tie the game.
Hideki Okajima then came in to pitch the ninth in his former home park. He walked one, but came back strong to end the inning and he would earn the win.
In the tenth, Julio Lugo led off with a single. Dustin Pedroia then laid down a perfect bunt up the first base line to move Lugo to second. Youkilis was retired on a strike out, and then the Athletics needed to pick their poison. Pitch to David Ortiz or pitch to Manny Ramirez. The solution was to pitch to Manny as they walked Big Papi. Manny answered by lacing a two-out double off the center field wall, scoring both runs. Manny may have made it to third, but thought that he had a free walk around the bases and started to watch the flight of his hit. The ball ended up going off the top of the wall, he then hustled into second.
Jonathan Papelbon then came in for the bottom of the inning to try and record the save. Lights out, right? Well not exactly. Papelbon gave up a run and 3 hits. If it was not for a stupid base running mistake by Emil Brown, as he tried to turn an RBI double into a RBI triple and was thrown out as it appeared as though he thought the ball was headed to the plate to try and get the runner. Youkilis made a good heads up play and cut the ball off throwing it to third to catch Brown in a pickle, getting the out. If he were not out Brown would have scored the tying run on a single by Bobby Crosby. Papelbon then retired Jack Hannahan to end the game, giving the Red Sox their first win of the season in the first game.
Oakland and Boston will battle it out again tomorrow at 6AM before they head back to the states.
also appearing on www.sammonroe.net