Festivities aside, there is work to be done
The Red Sox will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first game at Fenway Park Friday afternoon before they play the Yankees. What they really need to celebrate is a victory.
The 4-8 Red Sox have lost three straight, getting outscored, 25-6. However early in the season it may be, this three-game series with the Yankees has taken on added importance.
“We just have to go out in the next series and try and win it,’’ said third baseman Kevin Youkilis. “Try and win two out of three, and that will help this team get going. It’s only April and a long way to go.’’
The Sox were 2-10 through 12 games last season. They won 40 of their next 57 games and were in first place by late May. But this team has more injuries to overcome along with a lack of pitching depth.
“We need to do everything better,’’ second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
Friday’s starter, Clay Buchholz, allowed 12 runs on 12 hits in his first seven innings this season, getting rocked by the Tigers April 8, then having a rough first three innings against the Rays Saturday. But Buchholz recovered in that game, throwing four shutout innings before leaving the mound in a game the Red Sox won, 13-5. He retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced.
“I felt like I got into a good groove and got my feel back,’’ Buchholz said. “Hopefully I can build on that.’’
Buchholz has not pitched particularly well against the Yankees in his career, going 2-3 with a 5.59 earned run average in seven starts. He faced them twice last season, giving up six earned runs in 10 2/3 innings.
Buchholz will oppose Ivan Nova. The 25-year-old righthander has a 6.62 ERA in four career appearances against the Sox. He has pitched twice at Fenway Park, giving up five earned runs on 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Sox will start Felix Doubront Saturday and stick with Daniel Bard Sunday. There was discussion about using Jon Lester on regular rest Sunday, but manager Bobby Valentine said Thursday that he would keep the rotation in order.
Outfielder Cody Ross is looking forward to his first taste of baseball’s best rivalry.
“I’ve heard about it my whole career, my whole life. I get to be a part of it on Friday,’’ he said. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff going on Friday. We’ve got to focus on the task at hand and that’s just going out and playing good baseball.’’
A treat for Selig
Commissioner Bud Selig will be at Fenway for the celebration.
“I’m happy to be there, it’s an amazing story,’’ he said. “The thing about our sport that is so good is that a place like Fenway has been preserved, it’s still there. It’s a remarkable story.
“I’m happy that we’ve taken these kind of ballparks and kept them. Our sport is better off for keeping them and having them.’’
Selig, who spoke to members of the Associated Press Sports Editors in New York Thursday, said his first trip to Fenway was in 1949.
“My mother brought me, and I was a Yankees fan in those days,’’ he said. “The Yankees had come to town. My mother went to the ticket window and we couldn’t get in. So we just walked around the ballpark.
“So I took her back in 1979 with the Brewers, and of course the Red Sox were good. I said to her, ‘It’s a little different than in 1979, huh?’ She just smiled.
“The thing about Fenway is you walk in there and close your eyes, and it’s like your a kid in 1949 again.’’
Details in place
The Red Sox and Yankees will wear replica uniforms from 1912 for the game. For the Sox, that means an all-white cap. The Yankees will have white caps with a blue brim and their familiar “NY’’ logo.
The pregame ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., an hour before the first pitch. The gates will open at 12:30 p.m.
Oscar-winning composer John Williams will conduct members of the Boston Pops in the debut of his new composition, “Fanfare for Fenway.’’
Keith Lockhart will conduct the Pops for the national anthem and the “Hymn To New England.’’
The flyover will include two F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base and two World War II-era P-51 Mustangs. Military personnel from Hanscom Air Force Base will be on hand to present the colors.
The Red Sox also will provide grape juice and cups for fans to toast Fenway Park in an attempt to set a world record for the largest toast in a single venue.
The Red Sox invited all living former players and managers back for this weekend’s celebration, but the three living former general managers were originally excluded from the list before being invited to attend the game Thursday. The invitation was extended after CSNNE.com reported that Theo Epstein, Mike Port, and Dan Duquette were not on the initial list. Epstein, who quit the Red Sox last October to become president of baseball operations with the Cubs, told reporters in Chicago that he would not attend because the Cubs have a game at home. The current ownership group fired Duquette before the 2002 season. Port was the interim GM before Epstein was hired later in 2002.
A Schilling note
Curt Schilling will not attend the anniversary ceremony, saying he has business matters to attend to. A member of the World Series title teams in 2004 and ’07, Schilling has made news lately with his frequent criticism of Valentine on ESPN and WEEI. In a letter to media outlets, Schilling wrote, “I was and always have been opinionated, and unafraid to share my opinion, and for that I accept whatever it is you think of me. But please know that when I had the ball in my hand I gave the team, and you, every ounce of everything I had to get a ‘W.’ It was an honor to wear the uniform, and compete with the incredible team and teammates I was allowed to.’’
Hill moving up
Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill has been assigned to Triple A Pawtucket to continue his injury rehabilitation assignment. Hill was nearly perfect in five Single A games with Greenville and Salem. In six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and one walk, with 13 strikeouts. Hill pitched an inning for Salem Wednesday night against Lynchburg and struck out the side. Hill, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last June 9, has made a remarkably speedy recovery, given that most pitchers take at least a year to return. The 32-year-old Milton native spent much of the winter at Fenway Park preparing for the season. In two seasons with the Red Sox since being signed as a minor league free agent, Hill has thrown 12 scoreless innings in 15 appearances and struck out 15.
Miller wild again
Lefthander Andrew Miller had a rocky outing for Pawtucket Thursday, walking four in 1 1/3 innings against Syracuse. He also struck out three. Of Miller’s 50 pitches, 20 were strikes. In six minor league games on his rehab assignment, Miller has allowed four runs on four hits in six innings, with nine walks and 12 strikeouts. Miller has said he is recovered from the strained left hamstring that has him on the disabled list. But the Red Sox may want to see more consistency before activating him. Miller’s rehab assignment could run through May 7 before the Sox have to make a decision.
Adding it all up
The Red Sox were 12-6 against the Yankees last season. Since the start of the 2002 season, the Sox lead the series, 93-92. The Sox have scored 1,011 runs and the Yankees 971. The Yankees lead the all-time series, 496-451. The Red Sox are 245-230 at Fenway Park against the Yankees . . . After playing two games in extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., Carl Crawford had a scheduled day off . . . An estimated 54,000 fans attended an “open house’’ at Fenway Thursday.