1-1: Sox split Japan series

The Red Sox came away with a split of their two-game series with Oakland at the Tokyo Dome. It sure was good to watch some baseball again, wasn’t it? Don’t worry too much, I still consider these games like Spring Training, even if they do count.

Daisuke Matsuzaka starting game 1 in Tokyo just seemed right, didn’t it? Though he struggled with command, Dice-K was able to grit it out, and only allowed two hits over his five innings. He walked five, but did strike out six, so it wasn’t all bad. Manny Ramirez stroked two doubles and recorded 4 RBI, making good on his claim that he’s just going to go out and get his two options years and more.

Notably, Jacoby Ellsbury hit 8th and not leadoff. It makes sense that the Sox want to coax him along, just like they did Dustin Pedroia last season (Pedey hit 9th until early June last season). So Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis will top the lineup for the time being. Ellsbury misjudged a fly ball against the ceiling, but made a very nice catch in the 8th. That’s some athleticism for you. I think he’ll be just fine in center, don’t you?

Ellsbury's catchJ.D. Drew wasn’t ready to go, and sat both games with back tightness, but it doesn’t appear to be too serious. Brandon Moss hit a solo home run off of closer Huston Street, sending the game into extra innings, then caught Emil Brown going for third base to preserve the 6-5 lead in the 10th. Moss also went 0-3 in today’s game, and got optioned to Pawtucket for all of his trouble. That’s what happens when you have minor league options with the Red Sox, just ask Youk.

Jonathan Papelbon did get smacked around a bit in the 10th (3 hits), but was credited with the first save of 2008. Hideki Okajima (1-0) got the vulture win.

Game 2 was not pretty, as the Sox lost 5-1. Jon Lester came out struggling with command again, yielding four runs on three walks and five hits in his four frames. Only 47 of his 83 pitches landed for strikes… David Aardsma pitched a strong 1 2/3 innings, fanning three with a good fastball and slider. Bryan Corey, on the other hand, is not impressing me thus far.

For the A’s, Rich Harden came out and silenced the Sox lineup for six innings. He fanned nine, and only allowed a solo shot to Manny in the 6th. Whew. That splitter was fooling everybody today. Santiago Casilla looked sharp in an inning of relief; he’s an up and coming setup/closer candidate right there. Seeing Keith Foulke pitching again was interesting. He wasn’t bad at all, though the velocity still isn’t there.

Coco Crisp was the centerfielder in this one, and the Sox may be trying to show that they’re committed to playing both Crisp and Ellsbury. David Ortiz was 0-for-7 for the series, and apparently, jetlag may have been a factor.

Other notes: Josh Beckett had a good throwing session, but has been DL’ed. Not to worry, this is probably due to roster juggling more than anything else. Craig Breslow was placed on waivers, and the Indians got a hold of him; sorry to see him go. Mike Timlin might start on the DL; Corey is the main beneficiary of that.

One Response to 1-1: Sox split Japan series

  1. Pat says:

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Francona juggles center field this year. I never thought, up until now, that we might have both Coco and Ellsbury throughout the year (if not just until July). It’s a shame that Coco is so opposed to being on the bench.

    Tito has his hands full, as usual. We have a great bench thus far, and it will be great to see how he manages it, and tries to keep players fresh.

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