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Home » April 2009 Game CommentsApril 2009 » Returnees


Game 2: April 8, 2009
WinRays 7 W: Scott Kazmir (1-0)
S: Grant Balfour (1)
1-1, 1 game winning streak
Red Sox 2
L: Jon Lester (0-1)
1-1, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Raving about Jon Lester, Tom Caron rhapsodized, “The ceiling for this guy is through through the roof!” This evening’s Eck-tionary offering was “salad,” which means a pitch that is easy for a batter to launch. Hurlers used to serve meatballs, but in these days of health consciousness and eating ethics, genetically unmodified, organic leafy greens are recommended. Lester complied by serving up some escarole tonight: he presented to his guests five earned runs over his five-course repast.

The new opening montage for the game is less jaunty and jumbled. Accompanying the sleek new graphics is a reinvigorated, driving score, brawnier than the previous refrain, which was laced with the whines of a simulated guitar and peppered with the electronic flourishes of a synthesizer. I rather liked the haphazard way players popped from sides of the screen in the old sequence, so this will take some getting used to.

As will talking about a Ramirez that isn’t Manny. This Ramirez, a relief pitcher named Ramon, turned heads with a breakout season last year (70 strikeouts in 71⅔ innings pitched, 21 holds). At last Terry Francona must permanently and irrevocably break his Mike Timlin addiction. Ramirez and Takashi Saito made their Boston debuts. Ramirez’s was perfect while Saito’s reminded me of Hideki Okajima’s. The first batter Saito faced, AL Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, homered, just as John Buck did in 2007. History repeating?

Gabe Kapler, Carlos Peña, and Rocco Baldelli were all cheered for their connection to either the team or the New England area, so there was some warmth in the 45 degree weather. For Baldelli there was even a “let’s go, Rocco” chant, eliciting chills not caused by the temperature.

Baldelli propelled his lithe form to the fringes of Dustin Pedroia’s territory to make an outstanding head-first snare of Dioner Navarro’s short fly in the fourth. On the other side of the ball he notched his first hit in the bottom of the sixth on a single that glanced off of Akinori Iwamura’s glove.

Jason Bay, who looked uncomfortable at best cutting through the throngs in yesterday’s unorthodox entry onto the field, appeared more at home in left field. He played balls barehanded off the wall just like that other guy who most recently played in that position and whose name I don’t want to mention more than once in a column. Snatch of a carom in mid-arc, pivot, sling — his fluid motions should have yielded an out in the visitor’s half of the ninth but for Kapler’s adroit slide into second.

Kapler, he learned some schemes and ploys in Greenville as a manager in the Red Sox system. He led off the fifth inning and walked on five pitches, advanced to third on Iwamura’s single, and then scored on Jason Bartlett’s bunt. The last leg of his trip showed a keen sense of baserunning never previously associated with Kapler. It’s as if an employee got his tuition reimbursed by his company and then went to go work for the competition.

I hope Theo Epstein approached Kapler at some point during this series. “Gabe, someone in human resources wants to talk to you....”

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