In 2003, 2004 and 2005, the Red Sox lost Opening Day and went on to make the playoffs. In 2006, Opening Day was won and … well, let’s not talk about what happened after that.
Curt Schilling simply was not on today. He didn’t have it from the start and Tony Pena Jr. just wreaked havoc all day. Not bad for someone who hit .253/.285/.335 in 2,308 career minor league at bats. The 26-year old hit two legitimate doubles that were turned into triples by a sudden and bizarre case of slippage occuring to Coco Crisp and Manny Ramirez.
Hideki Okajima got a rude welcome to the majors, serving up a meatball to John Buck on his first pitch, which then ended up in the stands. Honestly, I was not surprised. It was Okajima’s first pitch in the majors, I would have sat fastball all the way, and it was in a perfect position to power out of the park.
Dustin Pedroia had a nice debut, collecting two hits (but committing a rookie move in getting thrown out at second) and got robbed of a third one by the defensive wizardry of the aforementioned Pena Jr. His double-play partner, Julio Lugo, was looking at a golden sombrero before roping one to center his final time at bat. He struck out swinging and then looking twice, but one of his lookers was on a clear ball. I’m not being a homer here, it was disgustingly a clear ball, and Lugo made his displeasure known to the umpire.
David Ortiz hammered home the first run of the game, but whiffed on a staredown with reliever Joel Peralta that could have catapulted the Sox back in the game. Manny Ramirez was lackluster, but I liked the play of Drew. Solid arm, discerning eye. I expect big things from him. Mike Lowell did what he did best, ringing a double while Jason Varitek … didn’t look good at the plate. Eight-hole hitter Coco Crisp also remained quiet the entire game.
We got a good look at the bullpen, and I have to say, I came away impressed. Javier Lopez was a bit erratic, but he had a 1-2-3 inning sandwiched around an Alex Gordon (welcome to the big leagues, kid: a bases loaded whiff and then hit by a pitch) HBP. Okajima followed with a John Buck juicer, but then settled down and looked quite impressive. I’m actually pretty glad he gave up that “meaningless” homer, as he’s now given up his first run and gotten that out of the way. Brendan Donnelly replaced Okajima in the middle of the seventh and whiffed his way into the dugout. Joel Pineiro followed, garnering only one out while giving up the triple on which Tony Pena Jr. could have been called out (it was close) and then got the hook after Pena scored. J.C. Romero followed to close the game out for Sox pitchers.
Meanwhile, Gil Meche was spinning a beauty, 7.1 IP, 1 BB, 6 H, 6 K. Solid effort by the $55 million dollar man who got 1.2 IP of 4 K effort by Joel Peralta to end the game in two hours and 54 minutes before a crowd of 41,257 … a crowd clearly excited by this team … a crowd who clearly realizes that things are changing in Kansas City under GM Dayton Moore: money will be spent, the minor league reinforcements are arriving, and the Royals are on the cusp of being the fifth team in the division with a legitimate chance of winning it all.
Josh Beckett toes the mound at eight on Wednesday against lefty Odalis Perez, then Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his major league debut the following day at 2:10 PM. All I have to say about that is: thank god I have a friend letting me mooch off his!
Around the league: Saw some of the Yankees/D-Rays tilt. The Devil Rays look really dangerous (Elijah Dukes … dark horse for Rookie of the Year), and Jorge Posada caught a break with a blown call by the umpire calling Delmon Young out on a steal. (Save it, Yankee fans. I saw the replays again and again. He was safe.)
Ben Sheets tosses the first gem of the year, a complete game two-hitter against the Dodgers, retiring 22 straight after a Jeff Kent homer. It was the first complete game on Opening Day in 15 years, while King Felix (Hernandez, of the Seattle Mariners) knocked off the Athletics with a fine eight-inning, 12 K effort. Adam Dunn showed the Chicago Cubs his prodigious power by bashing two homeruns after Grady Sizemore kicked off the homer parade of the 2007 season with a leadoff blast, trouncing the White Sox en route to what will be a banner year for the Tribe. Former Sox shortstops did well, with Edgar Renteria blasting two homeruns to tie and then win the game and then Hanley Ramirez going 4-6 with a steal.
The first extra-inning game was played early, as the Blue Jays downed the Tigers in 10, and LaTroy Hawkins blew a Rockies feel-good story in the eighth giving the Diamondbacks the win as Jason Bay homered in the 10th to send the Pirates over the Astros and then Erik Bedard got torched by the Minnesota Twins.
Alas, there’s an off day for the Red Sox, but never fear … the Red Sox will be back for what seems like every day starting Wednesday!
The results of the poll that asked the Firebranders what they were doing for Opening Day (nice response … I was wondering if it would get anything good with the answers being opened to the community. I’m happy to see a good response, and I’ll be breaking that out again soon.)
New poll on the top right!

4:10 PM @ KC on Monday. What are your plans? Leave an answer or agree with one of the answers!
* I’ll be at work, but you bet your bottom dollar I’m rushing home to catch it as soon as I can! – Evan
23% of all votes
* Rushing home as fast as humanly possible from class to catch the first pitch- Zach
13% of all votes
* I go to college, what else could I do but watch the opener and drinker a brewsky?
22% of all votes
* Sneaking away from work and hoping the paper mache replica of myself that I spent all spring constructing is convincing enough to fool my coworkers. -Shane
13% of all votes
* TIVO!!!!
7% of all votes
* Sitting in my Civil Procedure class and watching on Game Day. (Evan: Ouch…Civil Procedure.)
4% of all votes
* Since I’m unemployed and living in my Mom’s basement, watching the game will be a cinch. — Franken_Stein
4% of all votes
* ::cough cough:: I don’t feel so well ::cough:: – Sean O
6% of all votes
* Keeping up with it at work any way I can
3% of all votes
* Watch the game on ESPN then go to class if the sox lose, if a win go Drink up!
1% of all votes
* Watching the Yankees complete their destruction of the Devil Rays – Andrew (Evan: Obviously a Yankee fan…)
2% of all votes