Friday, April 10, 2009

Not the Best of Afternoons

The Red Sox dropped 2 out of 3 to the Tampa Bay Rays to open the season, a 4-3 afternoon loss. If they had opened last season like this against the Rays I'd be much more concerned, but now the Rays have the moniker "defending league champions" on their resume, so I can sleep a little better at night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up three home runs yesterday, to Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria and Shawn Riggans. He threw 100 pitches in just over 5 innings, which brought back bad memories of "Evil Daisuke," the one that drives fans (as well as Terry Francona) crazy. He nibbles, walks batters and is vulnerable to the gopher ball. The bullpen was good overall (although Hideki Okajima struggled in the ninth), pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings. (Ramon Ramirez continues to impress.)

The Sox did their best to comeback late in the game after falling behind 4-0. In the eighth it was 4-2 when Jed Lowrie came up with two men in scoring position and two outs. And for the second straight day in that position in the eighth, he struck out. Lowrie was terrific in spring training, batting .343, but he is struggling out of the gate when it counts, and so far is 1-for-12 with six Ks.

Kevin Youkilis had three hits yesterday, and Jason Varitek, who is 2-for-12 overall so far, hit his second HR in the ninth to make it 4-3. David Ortiz walked with two outs when the guy you want up there, Youk, stepped in. This had game-winning home run written all over it, but he hit a deep fly to center to end the game.

The Red Sox head to California for six games with the Angels and A's. It will be a somber night in Anaheim tonight as the Angels play the Sox in their first game since Nick Adenhart's tragic death.

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