Game 8 - Red Sox
Red Sox 5, Tigers 0
Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Fenway Park.
That's a sentence I'm not sure I ever expected to write. And one that encapsulates everything that's happened since 2004 as well as any other. Billy Buck never deserved the scorn he received after 1986, for so many reasons documented here and elsewhere, but even so, he lived as an unwilling symbol of such legendary (or at least legendarily hyped) angst. He owed Sox fans no debt, needed no forgiveness, but I can only imagine the weight that lifted today as the Fenway crowd welcomed him with a sustained roar. The Nation will be fairly maligned for any number of reasons this season, but Sox fans (and not for nothing, the front office that conjured this particular exorcism) did themselves proud today on a beautiful afternoon in the Hub.
As for the 2008 Sox, they waited through an hour-plus of World Series ring ceremonies and Opening Day pageantry, and turned in a no-muss, no-fuss, just-the-facts-ma'am performance against the Tigers. Daisuke Matsuzaka remained untouchable in America, shutting the Tigers out for 6 2/3 innings before turning the ball over to Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima for 2 1/3 uneventful frames. Matsuzaka has now whiffed 22 and allowed 8 hits in 18 1/3 innings in his first 3 starts.
Kevin Youkilis drove in 2 runs as part of a 3-for-3 day, while the recently-maligned Julio Lugo added 2 hits and a pair of tallies. Manny Ramirez started the scoring with a homerun, Little League-style, as he tripled to deep center and scored when Placido Polanco threw wildly to third.
But on a day where the franchise finally and emphatically bade farewell to the accursed and ill-remembered past, the redemption of Bill Buckner overshadowed any of the on-field action. Cool.