After a two week long, three country hiatus that opened up the Boston Red Sox season, the 2007 World Series Champions were happy to return home and accept their championship rings in front of another sold out Fenway Park crowd during yesterday’s pre-game ceremonies that followed with an impressive 5-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The ceremonies included past Boston sports legends such as Bill Russell and Bobby Orr who held their respective championship trophies for all to see alongside the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 trophies.
The ceremonial first pitch of the afternoon was thrown out by former Red Sox 1B Bill Buckner. Buckner, the 1986 World Series goat who had been invited to the 2005 opening day ceremonies but elected to not attend, received a standing ovation during yesterday festivities.
One member of the Sox who did not actively participate in receiving his ring was starting pitcher Dice-K Matsuzaka. He was too busy warming up in the bullpen while all the excitement was going on throughout the park.
“I did feel a little jealous,” Matsuzaka said. “The ring had been put in my locker at some point during the game. I tried it on, and I must say it looked pretty good.”
His ring wasn’t the only thing that looked good yesterday, for the second straight start his performance on the mound was very impressive en route to his second win on the season. Over 6 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka only allowed 4 hits and stuck out 7 Tigers. Relief pitchers Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima put up goose eggs in the 8th and 9th innings to preserve the shutout.
The loss puts Detroit at a mark of (0-7) on the year, the worst in Major League Baseball. Many had projected the Tigers to be one of the top three teams in the league behind the Sox and Yankees, but right now they are struggling at the plate having only scored 15 runs over 7 games (2.14 per game).
“You get angry if people are going through the motions and if they’re not trying,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s not what’s happening.”
No? Well they did commit two errors on the afternoon only a day after they had made three in a game. Their pitchers allowed 12 hits, 6 walks and a balk vs. the Sox and they only managed to squeak out 5 measly singles. On the season, they are batting a pathetic .235 team average. Yesterday’s starting pitcher Kenny Rogers is just as frustrated with these numbers as any veteran player in the league would be.
“It’s frustrating. Right now, we’re the worst team in baseball because of the way we are playing, in all areas of the game,” Rogers said. “I wanted to be the guy to turn things around. Every player in the locker room wants to be that guy.”
The Sox took advantage of the Tigers struggles early in the game scoring once in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings to put them ahead 3-0. Manny Ramirez almost had an inside the park homerun in the 3rd but it was ruled a triple with a throwing error by Detroit 2B Placido Polanco.
The Sox tacked on their final two runs of the afternoon in the 6th inning on an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis that plated Julio Lugo. Later in the inning, J.D. Drew would walk with the bases loaded to bring home Youkilis for the games last run. Youkilis went 3-3 at the plate and is off to a great start batting at a .400 clip through 8 games.
Tonight in the second game of the series, Jon Lester will take the hill for the Sox and match up against Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman. Lester is coming off an impressive win over Oakland where he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for a victory. Bonderman is (0-1) on the year losing his first start to Kansas City in which he allowed 4 runs and 8 hits over 6 1/3 innings.
After the Tigers series finale on Thursday, the Red Sox will welcome the New York Yankees to town for the weekend and their first of 18 games this year. Red Sox Tickets are still available for baseballs biggest rivalry!