Daisuke Matsuzaka

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

Today should've been the 108th opener at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox as they were to host the Chicago White Sox to begin their home schedule.

But as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that as well as the rest of the world. 

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There's still hope that they'll be baseball at Fenway in 2020, but on the day the gates were supposed to open and signal the unofficial start of spring in Boston, let's look back at a few of the Red Sox's most memorable individual performances with some Opening Day Dreaming Delivered by Coors Light.

April 20, 1912

The Red Sox christened Fenway Park by beating their rivals from New York, then known as the Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings before 24,000, including Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, grandfather of future president John F. Kennedy, and the Royal Rooters.

Tris Speaker (pictured, 3-for-6, two RBI, game-winning single) and Steve Yerkes (5-for-7) were your hitting heroes for a team that would go on to win the World Series. 

April 12, 1916

A left-hander named Babe Ruth held the Philadelphia A's to one unearned run on four hits and strikes out six in 8 1/3 innings. He went 0-for-2 batting ninth, proving he didn't have much of a future as a hitter. The '16 Sox would go on to win the World Series. 

April 6, 1973

On a day that featured the debut of the designated hitter in the American League, catcher Carlton Fisk, coming off his rookie of the year season, got his second year off to a booming start with three hits, including a two-run homer of Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre, and six RBI as the Sox spotted their archrivals a three-run lead and roll, 15-5.

(Now, if we could just forget Fisk's three-run, eighth-inning homer for the White Sox in a 5-3 Red Sox loss in the Fenway opener in '81 after Boston let him switch Sox as a free agent that winter.) 

April 10, 1998

Mo Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam to cap the Red Sox' rally from a five-run deficit off a Mariners bullpen that featured ex-Sox relievers Tony Fossas and Heathcliff Slocumb and future Sox reliever Mike Timlin.

Those that stuck around Fenway when it was 7-2 to start the ninth headed home happy after an 8-7 win on Opening Day. The Sox would go on to make the playoffs at 92-70 but were eliminated in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. 

April 1, 2002

Tony Clark, the future head of the MLB Players Association, was a Red Sox first baseman for 90 games in 2002. In the first of those, he went 3-for-5 with a home run and drove in three runs.

The Sox needed all of them in a wild 12-11 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Clark would help the Sox out even more two years later when, as a Yankee, his ground-rule double in the ninth kept Ruben Sierra from scoring from first and ending ALCS Game 5 and with it, the Sox' World Series hopes.

April 11, 2005 

In addition to being memorable for the pregame ring ceremony and banner raising that was 86 years in the making (and for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera being cheered and Alex Rodriguez, pictured, jeered by the Fenway fans for their roles in the Sox' 2004 pennant), the Sox got a strong pitching performance from Tim Wakefield in an 8-1 thumping of the Yankees.

Veterans of '04 Wakefield (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 SOs), Trot Nixon (2-for-3, two RBI) and Doug Mirabelli (two-run homer) started '05 off right.

April 8, 2008

The Sox home opener in 2008 was another banner-raising day that included a tearful Bill Buckner emerging from the Green Monster to a standing ovation to throw out the first pitch.

After the pregame festivities, the Sox rolled to a 5-0 shutout over the Detroit Tigers. Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-3 with two RBI and Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. 

April 7, 2009

Josh Beckett held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run on two hits and struck out 10 as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.

Beckett would go on to win 17 games and the Sox racked up 95 victories that season before being swept by the Angels in the ALDS.

April 8, 2013

Clay Buchholz got another championship season off to a great start as he shut out the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings on three hits.

Daniel Nava's three-run homer provided the offense in a 3-1 victory.

April 13, 2015

Mookie Betts showed off his future MVP form early in the 2015 season with a 2-for-4, four-RBI day that included a three-run homer in the second inning and two stolen bases in the first.

All of that came after he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run in the first with a leaping grab in front of the bullpen fence in right. The Sox went on to a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals but it didn't portend to good things as they finished 78-84 and last in the AL East. 

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Daisuke Matsuzaka suffers bizarre arm injury at fan event in Japan

Daisuke Matsuzaka suffers bizarre arm injury at fan event in Japan

You didn't think you'd be reading about Daisuke Matsuzaka today, did you?

The former Boston Red Sox pitcher is back in the news for unfortunate reasons: He was diagnosed with inflammation in his right shoulder after an "overzealous fan" yanked his arm during a fan event in Okinawa, Japan, for the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball league.

According to the Dragons, Matsuzaka is experiencing pain in his throwing arm after the incident, and the team told him to stop throwing for now.

Matsuzaka, now 38, has been playing in Japan for the past four seasons after his major league career ended in 2014 with the New York Mets and has been with Chunichi since last January.

Red Sox fans will remember Matsuzaka as the Japanese phenom who struggled to make the most of his massive initial contract due to frequent arm trouble. He amassed 33 wins in his first two seasons in Boston and won a World Series with the club in 2007 but couldn't stay on the field after that, averaging just 14 starts per season over his final four years in Boston from 2009 to 2012.

He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and was never the same, joining the Mets for a two-year stint in 2013 and 2014 before heading back to Japan in 2015.

Matsuzaka has played sparingly over the last three seasons but did post a 6-4 record and 3.74 ERA for the Dragons in 2018. It seems the injury bug has bitten the right-hander in a cruel way once again, however. 

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Comparing David Price to '04, '07, and '13 No. 2 Red Sox starters

Comparing David Price to '04, '07, and '13 No. 2 Red Sox starters

For the next few days, we'll be reminiscing on 2004, 2007, and 2013 Red Sox champions at each position and seeing how they stack up against their 2018 counterparts. Today, we discuss the No. 2 starters. . .

Pedro Martinez, 2004

Regular season: 16-9, 3.90 ERA, 227 SO

Playoffs: 2-1, 4.00 ERA

Year in summary: Performance wise, 2004 probably was Pedro's worst season as a member of the Red Sox. It was also his final season in a Sox uniform. But of course all that matters is Martinez was able to help Boston break the curse and bring home its first World Series title since 1918.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2007

Regular season: 15-12, 4.40 ERA, 201 SO

Playoffs: 2-1, 5.03 ERA

Year in summary: Dice-K didn't quite live up to his lofty expectations. 2007 was the Japanese phenom's rookie season and while he was part of a dominant World Series-winning team, his disappointing year proved not to be an anomaly as he finished only two of his eight MLB seasons with an ERA under 4.00.

John Lackey, 2013

Regular season: 10-13, 3.52 ERA, 161 SO

Playoffs: 3-1, 2.77 ERA

Year in summary: Lackey was far from a fan favorite in Boston before redeeming himself in 2013. He was finally able to win Red Sox fans over with a solid regular season, followed by several gutsy performances in the playoffs.

David Price, 2018

Regular season: 15-7, 3.53 ERA, 171 SO

Year in summary: If you take out his starts at Yankee Stadium this season, Price has been fantastic. Of course, any regular season success at this point is irrelevant in the eyes of Red Sox fans if Price again can't get the job done in the playoffs as a starter.