THE RAYS and A ONE WAY
TICKET TO "MANNY-WOOD" ...
Brandon Moss steps up in Tokyo

March 25, 2008 ... Brandon Moss, proved to be a difference-maker in a 6-5, 10-inning win over the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo. With the Sox just two outs from defeat yesterday, Moss, who'd already singled home a run in the sixth, hit his first major league home run off Athletics closer Huston Street in the ninth, then stepped aside to let Manny Ramirez do the rest, Ramirez doubling home two runs in the 10th off Street to break the 4-4 tie fashioned by Moss.

Ramirez also had doubled home two runs in the sixth, when the Sox spared jittery Daisuke Matsuzaka the indignity of losing on his home turf, Matsuzaka departing with a 2-0 deficit after walking five batters in five innings. Ramirez, who finished with four RBIs, made a winner out of another native son, Hideki Okajima, who pitched a scoreless ninth in the Tokyo Dome, where, as a former member of the principal tenants, the Yomiuri Giants, he saw as many camera flashbulbs popping as Matsuzaka did.

Ramirez, whose winning hit came after an intentional walk to David Ortiz, was given a check by the game's commercial sponsors for 1 million yen, which translates roughly into $10,000. Ramirez, who has never seemed more content in a Sox uniform than he has this spring, also suggested that the Sox might want to take another look at Moss.

Moss is making it tough for the Sox to reflexively punch his ticket back to Pawtucket, first with his strong spring (.308), and now with his Opening Day performance, as he became just the third player in Sox history, and first since 1945, to hit his first big-league home run in an opener.

Moss's home run allowed a crowd of 44,628 to erupt at the entrance of Okajima, the self-styled second banana to Matsuzaka in the grand scheme of things but a hometown favorite here.

The cheers grew louder when Okajima struck out Kurt Suzuki to open the ninth, but there were some anxious moments after he issued a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Mike Sweeney. Travis Buck just missed realizing Okajima's worst fears, his fly ball to deep center expiring in Jacoby Ellsbury's glove, before Mark Ellis tapped out to the mound to send the game into extra innings.

Matsuzaka's antenna was up, no doubt, as well, given his unmatched status here as a national sports icon. The early returns suggest he may have been overwhelmed in the opener. He gave up a home run to the second Oakland batter, Ellis, then went walk, hit batter, wild pitch, walk before Bobby Crosby's infield chopper made it 2-0 in the first. There would be a single and two more walks in the second, when Matsuzaka benefited from a borderline third-strike call on a down-and-in slider to Jack Cust, who whiffed four times for a team that had just three players back from its Opening Day lineup of a year ago. Matsuzaka issued a two-out walk to Jack Hannahan in the third, then set down his final seven batters before manager Terry Francona pulled him after a yield of 95 pitches.

High anxiety was not the sole province of Matsuzaka. Reliever Kyle Snyder gave away the 3-2 lead forged for Matsuzaka when he went single, home run to the first two batters he faced in the sixth, Crosby and Hannahan. And closer Jonathan Papelbon weathered a perilous 10th, one in which an egregious base-running blunder by Emil Brown helped short-circuit an Athletics rally.

Brown doubled home Daric Barton, who had walked, but Kevin Youkilis cut off a strong relay from Dustin Pedroia and erased Brown, who had no shot at third, in a rundown. Two singles and a visit from pitching coach John Farrell followed, before Papelbon ended the game by inducing Suzuki to roll out to Youkilis.

 

at Tokyo Dome (Tokyo) ...

R

H

E

BOSTON RED SOX

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

1

2

 

6

11

0

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

2

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

1

 

5

7

0

W-Hideki Okajima (1-0)
S-Jonathan Papelbon (1)
L- Huston Street (0-1)
Attendance 44,628

2B-Pedroia (Bost), Ramirez (2)(Bost), Brown (Oak)
HR-Moss (Bost), Ellis (Oak), Hannahan (Oak)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Dustin Pedroia 2b 4 1 2 .500  

 

Kevin Youkilis 1b 4 1 1 .250  

 

David Ortiz dh 4 1 0 .000  

 

Manny Ramirez lf 5 1 2 .400  

 

Coco Crisp pr/cf 0 0 0 .000  

 

Mike Lowell 3b 4 0 1 .250  

 

Brandon Moss rf 5 1 2 .400  

 

Jason Varitek c 4 0 0 .000  

 

Jacoby Ellsbury cf/lf 4 0 1 .250  

 

Julio Lugo ss 4 1 2 .500  

 

Alex Cora ss 0 0 0 .000  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Dske Matsuzaka 5 2 5 6 1  
  Kyle Snyder 1.1 2 2 0 1  
  Javier Lopez 0.2 0 0 0 1  
  Bryan Corey 1 0 0 0 0  
  Hideki Okajima 1 0 0 1 1  
  Jon Papelbon 1 3 1 1 1  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2008 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX 1 0 -

 

 

New York Yankees 0 0 1/2

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 0 0 1/2

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 0 0 1/2

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays 0 0 1/2