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Posts Tagged ‘Neil Diamond’

It’s good to be back.  It’s so good to be back.  We really needed the team to be at home, and we needed the healing effects of the pre-game ceremony which, as usual, was perfect.  There was a video tribute to the marathon and the victims of the tragedy as well as the photographs of the brave law enforcement officials who did all that they could for them and for this city.  And then there were photos of how it all ended.  Victims of the tragic events as well as law enforcement threw the ceremonial first pitch.  The American flag flew, the national anthem played, Neil Diamond led the singing of “Sweet Caroline,” Papi made a very heart-felt announcement, and Bailey even took a page from Jonathan Papelbon’s book, taking the mound for the ninth to the tune of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys.  It was truly an event of healing, of contemplation, and of class.  And it served as yet another reminder of what a remarkable place this city is and how strong our community is.  We are and will always be Boston strong.

And then it was time for the healing power of escape, facilitated by this game and this team we all know and love.

Buchholz, who repeatedly looked up to watch the moving video during his warmup, pitched eight full innings of two-run ball.  He gave up eight hits, walked one, and struck out six.  He threw 104 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  That is ridiculously efficient; we consider pitchers efficient if they get through seven innings with one hundred pitches, and most pitchers on most teams consider themselves lucky if they get through five or six innings with one hundred pitches.

Buchholz had a one-two-three inning in the first, third, and fourth.  He gave up a single in the second and his first run in the fifth as a result of a double-flyout-single combination.  He gave up a double to lead off the sixth and a double that turned into a run thanks to a triple in the seventh.  He gave up a single and his only walk of the game in the eighth.

Bailey’s ninth was quite a close call.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the inning and gave up a single and a walk over the course of the rest of it while recording the three outs he needed to close the deal.  If we didn’t have a two-run lead at the time, that home run would have tied it up.

We were one run behind by the time we finally scored; we didn’t get on the board until the sixth.  Pedroia walked in the first, and Napoli walked in the second, which was erased thanks to a double play.  We went down in order in the third, and Papi, fresh off the DL, singled in the fourth (his at-bat in the first ended with a flyout).  Nava walked and Drew singled in the fifth, our biggest thus far, if you could call it that.

Finally, the sixth rolled around.  Ellsbury led it off with a single, moved to second on a sac fly by Victorino and then third on a groundout by Pedroia, and scored on another single by Papi.  We’d tied the game with that run but entered the seventh down by one yet again.  Nava got hit but was picked off trying to steal second; Middlebrooks singled, Drew reached on a force attempt, and if Nava hadn’t been picked off, the bases would have been loaded for Salty, who popped out.

We blew it as open as it was ever going to be in the eighth, when we were down by two.  Gomes led it off with a double, Pedroia walked, and Papi grounded into a double play.  But then Napoli walked, and Nava took a four-seam for a strike and another four-seam for a ball.  Then he got all of an eighty-eight mile-per-hour changeup that he sent beyond the right field fence.  The ball needed the encouragement of Nava yelling, “Stretch!” in order to get out.  Maybe it was Nava really wanted to make up for getting picked off, maybe it was baseball physics, or maybe it really was the will of everyone there who really wanted to win this one.  Either way, one swing.  Three runs.  Done.  The final score was 4-3.  We needed this one.  This one was for us.

The Bruins were also back in action, unfortunately losing to the Penguins, 3-2.

USA Today Staff
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To put it simply, we won! On Opening Day! Against the Evil Empire! The first of many, folks.  The first of many.

The opening ceremonies were un-announced and very nicely done, complete with fireworks, Don Orsillo, and Joe Castiglione, with special guests Steve Tyler, Keri Hilson, LeBron James, Dr. Dre, and Neil Diamond.  You read right.  Neil Diamond finally sang “Sweet Caroline” live.  And it was so good to see Ryan Westmoreland in attendance.

The highlight? Pedro Martinez threw out the first pitch! That really takes you back, doesn’t it? They unfurled the American flag over the Green Monster and who should step out from behind it.  Papi was pretty psyched.

I feel compelled to mention that YES didn’t show any footage of Pedro.  Apparently, they previewed the season like they’d been doing every day for the past half-year because every moment must revolve around the New York Yankees.  Ugh.  Just another occurrence that reveals why they’re, well, the Yankees.

And I would like to take this opportunity to point out to all of the naysayers that it was the offense, not the defense, that carried the day.  You really don’t get much more proof that the offense packs a powerful punch than a final score of 9-7.

We were down by three heading into the sixth.  That was when our bats pretty much exploded.  Youk smacked a triple that scored two, and Beltre hit a sac fly to score Youk.  Tie game.  The Yanks scored two more runs in the top of the seventh.  Then Dustin Pedroia hit one of those home runs everyone told him he couldn’t hit while he was growing up because there’s no way someone of his size should have that kind of power.  A two-runner into the Monster.  Huge.  After that, Youk scored again on a passed ball.  Pedroia added another RBI in the eighth.  And there you have the nine runs in all their glory.

The best part of it is that those nine runs were scored due to many different kinds of offense.  You had big ball, and you had small ball.  There were manufactured runs, and there were opportunistic runs.  What that shows is that the offense can get it done in any situation; we know we can always score when we need to.

The only bad part of the game was the only part of the game everyone was sure would be great heading into it: Josh Beckett, our supposed ace in the hole.  Yeah, not so much.  He got rocked.  Five runs on eight hits with three walks and back-to-back jacks in less than five innings is not what we wanted to see from him during the first game of the year.  I mean, they were all over his fastball, and he wasn’t locating his off-speeds.  That’s a terrible combination.  Thankfully, we’ve got a day off tomorrow so the bullpen can rest up.  But I feel pretty safe in saying that nobody saw that coming.  There was absolutely nothing that occurred during Spring Training to even remotely suggest that he would have any sort of issue.  If this were any other pitcher, I’d chalk it up to nerves.  But this is Josh Beckett: not only has he been in Boston for years, but he thrives on pressure situations.  He should have owned.  He didn’t.  I won’t worry about it unless he bombs his next start, but all I’m saying is that it was really unsettling.

Schoeneweis relieved him and did work; a scoreless, spotless frame.  Ramirez came on and allowed the sixth and seventh New York runs.  Okajima got the win, Bard got the hold, and Paps got the save.  He allowed a hit and threw ten pitches, seven for strikes.

We have a day off tomorrow, as I said, and then we’re back to the usual start time of 7:00PM for the remaining two games of this series.  Then another off day, then a road trip to the Midwest.  We’ll be the first to break in Target Field.  Hey, anything is better than the Metrodome.  So, to emphasize: we beat the Yankees to win Opening Day.  We took advantage of two rallies to bounce back twice.  Resilience.  Dominance.  Awesomeness.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  That was the first regular season ballgame we’ve seen in a good, long time, and with the exception of Beckett, it didn’t disappoint.  Just drink it in, folks.  Baseball is back!

Digital Sports Daily

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