Instead, the majority ruled during the first game of Japan Opening Series 2008, as the Red Sox pulled out a 6-5 victory in 10 innings against the A's in a thrilling start to the Major League Baseball season.
Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez had four RBI, including the go-ahead two-run double off Huston Street in the top of the 10th.
Street came on to protect a 4-3 lead in the ninth, only to surrender a game-tying homer to Brandon Moss with one out.
It was Moss' first career homer. He was only starting in right field because J.D. Drew was scratched at the last minute with lower back stiffness.
“I didn’t know anything about him,” Street said of Moss. “We were talking about him in the bullpen a little bit. Before the game, we had a few notes on him. It was a change-up down, but it got some white.”
The crowd of 44,628 was worked into a frenzy from the get-go, thanks largely to hometown hero Daisuke Matsuzaka starting on the mound for Boston. As Matsuzaka delivered his first pitch in the bottom of the first, a blinding flash of cameras popped. Travis Buck swung at the first offering and grounded out to second.
The familiar "Yoouuuk!!" chant went out whenever Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis came to bat. The crowd booed loudly when the A's intentionally walked David Ortiz in the top of the 10th immediately before Ramirez’s double.
“It was Red Sox land out there,” A’s starting pitcher Joe Blanton said. “But that’s the way it goes.”
Winning in such an environment is what would have made the victory so gratifying. The A’s have been treated wonderfully during their time in Japan, and during the exhibitions they got plenty of cheers. But when the first contest of this two-game series got underway, it was clear which way the crowd was pulling.
“The event aside, whether we’re playing in the backyard, or it’s the opening series in Japan, I’m just as disappointed,” Street said. “That’s obviously not how you want to start the season. That being said, it’s done and over.”
Things looked good early on
The Tokyo-born Matsuzaka never looked settled in on the mound despite the massive support.
A crowd of fans gathered around the Red Sox dugout to snap pictures of the right-hander as he took the field to stretch with his team before the game.
But after retiring Buck to start the first, Mark Ellis connected for a solo homer to left field, the first of two runs the A’s scored in the inning.
Matsuzaka walked five in his five innings. In the first inning alone, he walked two, hit Jack Cust with a pitch in the foot and uncorked a wild pitch.
Boston scored three off Blanton in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. Ramirez’s two-run double to left was the big blow.
But Jack Hannahan's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth off Kyle Snyder put the A’s back up 4-3.
After Ramirez put the Red Sox ahead in the 10th, a key base running error killed an A’s rally in the bottom of the inning.
With one out, Emil Brown doubled to right-center. Daric Barton scored on the play, but Brown thought a relay throw from Dustin Pedroia was going through to home plate. Instead, Youkilis cut the throw off, and Brown was caught in a run-down between second and third.
“In that situation, I can’t get out like that. It’s not a trade-a-run (for an out) situation, ” Brown said. “I thought the throw was going home. Even (so), it was a mistake, bad base running on my part.”
It looked even more glaring when Bobby Crosby and Hannahan followed with singles.
But Kurt Suzuki grounded out to first to end the game.
Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.