What was a comfortable 6-3 lead with three outs to go ended with the bases loaded and the game-tying run on third base -- before Orlando Hudson grounded out to Mark Bellhorn on Foulke's 29th pitch. Jeez. But a win is a win and because of Baltimore's 12-5 dismantling of the Yankees and Tampa Bay's 10th-inning victory over Oakland, all five AL East teams are 2-2 this morning.
Arroyo pitched well in his first start of the season, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings. Those three hits came in a span of four batters in the second and third innings. After Russ Adams's home run leading off the bottom of the third, Arroyo set down 12 of the next 13 Jays, the lone base runner being his only walk of the night (to Adams, in the fifth). The top five hitters in the Jays' order were 0-for-15 against him.
Alan Embree pitched a shaky seventh, surrendering a home run to Eric Hinske and two other hard hit balls. Mike Timlin was sharp in the eighth, retiring the side on nine pitches. Foulke allowed three singles to begin the ninth, scoring one run, and a groundout brought Toronto to within 6-5. Foulke got the second out, which moved the tying run to third, before walking Frank Menechino on five pitches (a lot of his pitches were missing high and outside) and hitting Reed Johnson with an 0-2 pitch.
Nearly everyone in the Red Sox lineup contributed to the win -- and they got some extra-base hits along the way (finally). Johnny Damon had two hits and scored two runs, Trot Nixon hit a home run and also scored twice, Manny Ramirez singled and walked twice, David Ortiz had two hits and a walk, and Jason Varitek homered high off the right field pole. Edgar Renteria was 0-for-4, but did make a couple of nice plays in the field.
Get Your Act Together NESN: Last night was my first NESN broadcast and it was good to hear Don Orsillo reading the press notes verbatim once again. Sadly, NESN is still missing pitches because it can't stop showing promos for itself. I counted three missed pitches last night: the first two to Manny in the sixth and the first pitch to Damon in the ninth. Inexcusable.
The Blue Jays now have huge LCD scoreboards on the outfield walls in the gaps. They are covered by sheets of plexiglass, which have rough edges and bolts or screws protruding from them. Damon cut his left elbow in the second inning and needed six stitches to close the wound. The garish yellow and green lights seem to confuse outfielders on both sides. Damon will not play today and is questionable for Sunday.
Manny Ramirez says he's going to play three more years and then retire. ... Terry Francona was suffering from a viral infection and will return to the dugout for the home opener Monday. ... Pokey Reese will get his World Series ring in the mail. While he's on Seattle's 15-day DL with a strained right shoulder, he declined an invitation to fly to Boston.
Speaking of Opening Day, here is a hint of the Opening Day festivities. According to the Times, the Red Sox have arranged things so the Yankees do not have to watch the ring and banner ceremonies. Those will begin after New York has finished batting practice. The visitors are not due back on the field until introductions 40 minutes later, so "the only players who will be in the dugout for the ring and banner ceremonies will be those who choose to be there."
From Ken Rosenthal's column in The Sporting News on Alex Rodriguez: "The Rangers do not view Rodriguez fondly. Third baseman Hank Blalock imitated Rodriguez's glove slap in mocking fashion in an early spring training baserunning drill."
Finally, some idiocy from Jerry Green of the Detroit News:
Sad is what the current reigning world-champion Red Sox have become. A blip on history. A team lacking dignity and honor, a team of overflowing egos, a team of classless athletes who have shamed their classy Boston baseball uniforms with their behavior. ...Sorry, Mr. Green. It was, and always has been, Yankee fans who fueled talk of the Curse. And judging from the atmosphere around Yankee Stadium this week, they believe in it still, unable to let go of one of the foundations of their fandom. True Red Sox fans have never believed in ghosts and goblins and we never talked about it, except to mock the lazy sports media for using it as a crutch to avoid any actual reporting.
What grabbed me was that after 86 years of frustration and futility, the Red Sox themselves and so much of the New England populace, dissed the imperial Yankees. They had won a World Series, yet they preened and boasted as though they had won the World Series 26 times since 1918.
The Sox had been a haunted franchise since then, when they had Babe Ruth before peddling him to the Yankees out of desperation. The Curse of the Bambino, it was called. And all of New England believed it. ...