Red Sox Live Blog: Pregame Meeting, 12-Hit Attack and a Shutdown Effort by the Bullpen Help Red Sox Pick Up First Win


Red Sox Live Blog: Pregame Meeting, 12-Hit Attack and a Shutdown Effort by the Bullpen Help Red Sox Pick Up First Win


Postgame, Red Sox 9-6: There was music in the clubhouse, always the best indication that a game went well.

The prevalent theme of the postgame comments surrounded two items, Dustin Pedroia’s spark and the bullpen’s four scoreless innings.

However, there was one other item of note. Prior to the game, manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein had a meeting with the players to try to get them to relax and not make too much of the rough start.

So much happened in this game that it’s hard to say how much of a factor the talk was, but it seemed to get the guys in a better mindset once the game began.

“[They were] just telling us to ignore everything going on around us and if everybody does their job, we’ve got a really good team and you can’t doubt that just because of a bad start,” said Daniel Bard. “It definitely didn’t hurt. Guys need to be reminded sometimes to just take a deep breath, do your job and the team will be pretty good.”

Another factor was the simple fact that the team had nearly 40,000 people behind them. The support did not go unnoticed.

“I think the most important thing was the fan reaction,” said David Ortiz. “Got us going pretty good and that’s how it is when you come home.”

Look for plenty more on the site as the night goes on. There is a quick turnaround before a 1:10 p.m. start Saturday. It’ll be Ivan Nova vs. Clay Buchholz.

Final, Red Sox 9-6: It wasn’t pretty, but there’s a “1” in the win column and that’s about all that matters right now.

Jonathan Papelbon comes on to strike out Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter before getting Mark Teixeira to pop to center.

The Red Sox are shaking hands on the field, and that’s all you need to know.

Back in a bit with reaction from downstairs.

End 8th, Red Sox 9-6: Here we go, folks. Jonathan Papelbon, who was so hit or miss last season, is on to protect a three-run lead against the rival New York Yankees in the home opener, all on the heels of an 0-6 road trip.

Safe to say that if he blows this one, heads will roll. No pressure, Pap.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 9-6: Pitching with a lead for the first time this year, Daniel Bard is much more effective.

Bard works a 1-2-3 top of the eighth. He recorded one strikeout in the process. Jonathan Papelbon warms, and will probably get into this one even if the Red Sox tack on a few more — he needs the work.

End 7th, Red Sox 9-6: A lengthy (is there any other kind between these teams?) seventh inning ends on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder to first.

J.D. Drew with a bit two-out hit. Seven of Boston’s nine runs have come with two outs.

Daniel Bard is now on to help protect a win for John Lackey. The latter half of that statement is incredible.

4:43 p.m.: The Manny Ramirez news has sort of taken over here in the press box. Several shots being taken at the former Red Sox left fielder.

Meanwhile, a current Red Sox right fielder just delivered a huge two-out, two-run single to right.

4:33 p.m.: And that will do it for Bartolo Colon, although he was victimized by a bunt single by Adrian Gonzalez before departing.

Boone Logan is on to face David Ortiz and J.D. Drew.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-6: The first six pitches Bobby Jenks threw were balls, four to Mark Teixeira and two to Alex Rodriguez.

He then battled back to strike out Rodriguez, a huge moment in this game. Carl Crawford made a nice catch in the corner in left, the most difficult ball to play in this park to some.

On that note: On the day the Red Sox celebrate one of their great left fielders (Yastrzemski) and officially welcome in another (Crawford) we get news that a third (Manny Ramirez) is hanging ’em up.

Ramirez looked very good this spring, very fit. Some had him tabbed for Comeback Player of the Year honors. Blow to Tampa Bay, even if he was caught cheating again.

4:20 p.m.: And in the midst of all this, we have word from MLB that Manny Ramirez has retired.

End 6th, Red Sox 7-6: Another quick inning for Bartolo Colon and we finally have a full inning in which no runs were scored.

Here comes Bobby Jenks. Daniel Bard will follow and then Jonathan Papelbon, if everything holds true to form. Based on how this season has gone so far, that’s not a sure thing.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 7-6: And seconds after I mention the duration of Alfredo Aceves’ first inning in a Red Sox uniform, it ends on a 6-4-3 double play that featured an incredible turn at second by Dustin Pedroia.

Brett Gardner is 2-for-2 with two walks, a stolen base, two runs scored and an RBI for the Yankees. Not the guy you want to be putting on base with regularity.

Still, the Sox have the lead in the late innings for the first time. Perhaps we can finally see this bullpen do its thing the way in which it was designed. Bobby Jenks is already warming for the seventh.

4:06 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves got one out and about 18 minutes later that’s all he has. This one has all the makings of a four-hour, 13-minute special.

End 5th, Red Sox 7-6: I want to first thank Michael Hurley for holding down the fort while we figured out the internet issues here. Seems they weren’t prepared for the onslaught of NY media. Serious bandwith issues had everyone just hanging around for a few innings.

We had plenty of offense to take in, as Mr. Hurley told you, and it continued in the fifth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had his first solid hit of the year with a wall-ball double that scored Kevin Youkilis, who had walked with one out.

The Sox have had so few big hits. That would qualify as one.

John Lackey’s line: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. His ERA stands at 15.58

Middle 5th, 6-6: You didn’t think this one would be easy, did you?

After Lackey threw a few innings where he looked like he may escape unscathed, he took care of the drama early in the fifth.

With Alex Rodriguez leading off, Lackey threw a 2-1 fastball that A-Rod sent over the Monster to tie the game.

Lackey may be done for the day, as much for pitch count (91) as his ineffectiveness.

End 4th, 6-5 Red Sox: Bartolo Colon, everybody!

The husky righty is doing some incredible work right now, retiring the side in order for the second straight inning.

Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping the Sox off the board, he’s also saving the Yankees from a near-disaster by saving some bullpen arms for what is sure to be a long weekend at the Fens.

Colon is at 28 pitches through two innings with three strikeouts and zeros across the board.

Middle 4th, 6-5 Red Sox: John Lackey has yet to pitch an inning without giving up a run, and the Red Sox’ lead is now just one.

The fourth started with some promise, as Carl Crawford made a beautiful sliding catch to retire leadoff man Curtis Granderson. Lackey got Russell Martin to ground out for the second out before having some trouble.

Brett Gardner hit a triple down the line in right, sliding in well ahead of the cutoff throw from Pedroia. In stepped the captain, who promptly singled home Gardner to score the Yankees’ fifth run.

Lackey regrouped to catch Teixeira looking, but he’s now at 79 pitches through four, and his ERA sits at an uncomfortable 16.43.

(Also, in case you noticed this blog was missing its usual dry wit, that’s because the Internet remains to be down for the media at Fenway Park. This is Michael Hurley filling you in for now, until service is restored at the 99-year-old ballpark, which was not originally designed to accomodate wireless Internet.)

End 3rd, 6-4 Red Sox: Raise your hand if you had Bartolo Colon as the first pitcher in this game to pitch a scoreless frame. Anyone?

Colon struck out J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia — both looking — before inducing a harmless flyball off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury.

Middle 3rd, 6-4 Red Sox: John Lackey plunked Alex Rodriguez with one out, and it came back to hurt him.

Cano followed up the hit by pitch with a double down the left-field line (his second two-bagger of the day), and a Nick Swisher groundout got the run home.

Bartolo Colon, an old Red Sox fan favorite from 2008, is now in the game for New York.

End 2nd, 6-3 Red Sox: As Fenway Park deals with some Internet issues, the Red Sox and Yankees are opearing at full steam.

Curtis Granderson doubled with one out in the top of the second, and he later scored on a Brett Gardner double to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead.

That didn’t last long, though, as the Sox brought their bats for the bottom half of the inning.

Drew, Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury hit three straight singles to load the bases with no out. Scutaro grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in the tying run, and Crawford hit into a fielder’s choice to advance the runners.

With two runners on and two out, Dustin Pedroia laced a single into center field, scoring two and opening up a 5-3 lead. Pedroia later came around to score on a David Ortiz single, thanks largely to Pedroia’s incredible slide to avoid Russell Martin’s tag.

With a 6-3 lead, the Fenway fans may finally be breathing a bit easier.

End 1st, Yankees 2-1: The one silver lining on this afternoon, for the Red Sox, might lie in the fact that Phil Hughes figures to give up a few. He looked pretty rough in his debut, which came after a difficult postseason and a rocky second half in 2010.

Dustin Pedroia liked what he saw, belting a solo homer to left, his first homer since that three-homer game in Colorado last June.

Hughes also walked Kevin Youkilis and gave up some screaming outs. His velocity is down, which also hurt him in his season debut.

I sense a 13-11 game that will end after sunset.

Mid 1st, Yankees 2-0: I know you can all do math, but just to get it in writing that is now 11 runs allowed — all earned — in 4 2/3 innings for John Lackey.

Lackey actually threw the first two pitches for strikes to Brett Gardner, but still walked him. He also walked Alex Rodriguez with two outs and then Robinson Cano ripped a two-run double to center. Boos followed.

Perhaps the most impressive of the new video boards is not the centerpiece but the Bank of America signed towards left. Unfortunately, for a guy like Lackey, that shows all the numbers related to his efforts. And what it shows after one inning is 22 pitches, nine for strikes. That’s a horrendous 41 percent rate.

Also in that inning was a stolen base by Brett Gardner on another horrible throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Yankees will run wild if they’ve been taking note of his issues with the arm, and I’m sure they have.

2:01 p.m.: Carl Yastrzemski throws out the first pitch, and throws it well, and we are just about to begin.

The playing of Taps and the moments of silence and the flyover and all that was solid. The reaction to the players was rather muted, on both ends.

The boos for Yankees fans were rather weak, and the cheers for some Sox players muted. It seems most people are waiting to see what unfolds here. If John Lackey gets lit up, the venom will spew. If the Red Sox roll, it will break open the floodgates of positive emotion.

1:56 p.m.: Nothing like a good flyover, which punctuated a rather solemn opening ceremony. Moments of silence for the victims of the Japan earthquake, and for former Red Sox GM Lou Gorman.

Now, we await the first pitch and can finally get on with this thing.

1:45 p.m.: The Red Sox have come out onto the first-base line as one, as opposed to having the starting lineup introduced one at a time.

1:41 p.m.: As the Yankees get introduced to some half-hearted boos, we see a tent-like thingy in the left-field corner, from which our guest of honor will emerge. Yaz?

1:34 p.m.: As we get ready for the opening ceremonies, allow me to thrust forth a rant.

On a day when the Red Sox unveil a higher price for media dining, we come to find out that the precious toppings for the ice cream have been cut out of the budget. Already the anger is filtering through the press box.

It’s the little things that matter, and sprinkles, M&M’s, crushed Oreos and the like — those matter!

Anyway, the Red Sox ownership group is being introduced. The sun is missing right now, but otherwise a great day for an early April game.

12:56 p.m.: John Lackey did not engender a lot of confidence with how his season debut went and his numbers in his career against the Yankees (6-8, 4.43 ERA) are rather pedestrian, but he has been a pretty good competitor with NY over the years.

Lackey had a 3.20 ERA vs. the Yanks last year, although one start was a garbage-time season finale. He allowed two runs in seven innings in his one outing vs. NY in 2009 and then pitched admirably vs. the Yanks in the ALCS.

The righty owns a 2.70 ERA in the playoffs against New York, so he has done the job in big games. Does this classify as one?

Given the 0-6 record and the fact that the opener is upon us, it just might. However, the sight of Lackey struggling in day games last year was a common one. Remember the Patriots Day mess? Eight runs in 3 1/3 innings vs. Tampa Bay?

He kind of has that you-don’t-know-what-you-are-going-to-get feel to him right now, despite the fact that he almost always been that dependable, innings-eater kinda guy. We will know soon enough.

By the way, word is Jim Calhoun is in the house, so word that he was bumped to Saturday for the opening pitch may be premature. Then again, Carl Yastrzemski has been thrown around as a possibility.

12:40 p.m.: The attention on the Red Sox and their miserable start is notable. And there is a sense that if the Yanks take the opener or win two of three or (gulp) sweep this series, then it will build to overwhelming proportions.

But can you imagine how intense the spotlight would be if the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t stink even more?

It’s like the Red Sox have a partner in futility. In fact, Tampa Bay has beaten Boston to the players-only meeting stage, which is often the first sign that the players feel that something is out sorts.

The one difference is that the Rays have already played at home and then went out on the road, losing three at both spots. The fact that Boston had this 10-game homestand on the horizon gave the club something to look at and say, “OK, let’s get home, reset and get this thing going.”

Tampa Bay was beat up at home for five games and then went on the road to Chicago, where it scored once (the fifth time in six games with just one run) in another loss. That prompted the Johnny Damon-led meeting.

Now, if Boston has some issues this weekend at Fenway, can we expect something similar?

11:56 a.m.: The Yankees just took the field for stretching and almost all of them stopped to check out the new video boards, which are now lit with welcoming messages.

The Red Sox are in the midst of batting practice and fans have begun to sprinkle in. It’s a great day for a game, as you know if you’re looked out the window.

One question being thrown around is who will be throwing out the first pitch. Mike Lowell, who already did that in Florida, has been named as a possibility. Saw a blurb in the Red Sox notes that Bobby Doerr turned 93 the other day. Not sure where he is living right now or how he is doing, but that name was mentioned as well.

If you have a guess, leave it below.

11:15 a.m.: In addition to the lineup shuffle, on which we will have more later, there is an overhaul to the bullpen before the first pitch at Fenway Park is even thrown this season.

As had been reported, Matt Albers is going to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lat. Terry Francona does not expect it to be a long-term thing for Albers.

Also, Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment in the wake of his horrible outing the other day. To replace those two, the Sox have called up Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront.

More on the whole shuffle in a bit.

10:06 a.m.: There is another major lineup shuffle for the opener at home. Jacoby Ellsbury, who has one hit in his last 17 at-bats, is batting eighth. Carl Crawford will lead things off. Here is a look:

Carl Crawford, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS

For those of you coming to the game, the place looks amazing. Walked the new concourse when I got in and even without fans all over the place it just feels roomier. When it’s packed with people you will see the difference.

The scoreboards are dark now, but should be a wonderful addition.

More in a bit.

8 a.m.: It’ll be John Lackey against the New York Yankees and the weight of the world on Friday afternoon at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will open their home schedule still searching for that elusive first victory.

A 1-0 loss in Cleveland on Thursday dropped Boston to 0-6, its worst start since 1945. Nestled in that run of misery was a start by Lackey last Saturday that saw him give up nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings at Texas.

Red Sox starters have given up a total of 10 runs in four outings ever since.

Lackey is 6-8 with a 4.43 ERA against the Yankees in his career. He was 2-5 with a 5.77 mark during day games last year.

New York enters the series 4-2 after defeating the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. Phil Hughes gets the start for the Yankees. He has given up 10 earned runs in 15 innings at Fenway Park in his career.

The first pitch is 2:05 p.m. NESN’s pregame coverage begins at noon. The Opening Day ceremonies start at 1:30 p.m. We will be around to follow it all right here.

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