3:45 - Players making their way through the grandstands now... don't slip on the wet stairs! Surprisingly, the fans are being retrained and not mobbing the guys...a few high-fives here and there.
3:47 - HUGE ovation for MVP Dustin. Papi with Oakleys on the brim of his cap...don't think he'll need those today. Seriously...watching Lowell with that hip stepping gingerly down those 97-year-old stairs gave me a twinge. Yikes.
3:50 - Pops do the Anthem, Green Monster Flag is unfurled, and a sky-shaking flyover.
3:54 - Ted Kennedy and Jim Rice to throw out first pitch. Ted's grandfather, Honey Fitz, was a charter member of the Royal Rooters and threw out the first pitch at the first Fenway Game in 1912. (The music over the loud speakers is waaay too sappy.)
3:55 - Tito leads Ted to the mound, and Ted leaves his cane with with him as he hobbles the rest of the way. Looking weak and shaky, still manages a soft toss several feet to Jim Ed. (No boos from the audience audible on TV at least, thankfully. I was wondering about that, given some of the user comments on Globe and Herald sites.)
3:59 - Pesky: "Play Ball!"
* Iwamura digs in, Beckett winds up, and ... in there for strike one! A couple pitches later, Iwamura flails on a painted outside pitch and heads dejectedly back to the dugout.
* Short hop to Lowry, who gets speedy Crawford by two steps.
* Beckett looking good with a 96 mph fastball to Longoria. Curve looking good too. And...Longoria down on four pitches.
* Ellsbury strikes out. Coco woulda had it.
* MVP steps into the box. Has he grown a couple inches? Hahahahah...just as Orsillo wonders "what he's got left to prove," he clocks one over the Monster. 1-0!!! (Guess it wasn't a high inside fastball.)
* Papi drops a single into shallow center. Good. I hate James Shields. Let's rock him.
* Youk flies out to right.
* JD! Wall-ball double! I never get tired of watching that guy's swing.
* Jason Bay draws a walk. Bases loaded, bitches.
* Lowell...here we go, buddy. Aw, darnit. Pops out to catcher.
* Beckett had to wait 16 minutes in the cold, but looks none the worse for wear. Ks Carlos Pena on three pitches.
* And induces Pat Burrell to fly out on one.
* And Matt Joyce pops to short right on the first pitch, too, his jagged bat almost doing some damage in the box seats. Sharp, so far.
* Lowrie grounds out to first.
* Varitek, hoping he can translate that good spring training into a season in which he doesn't suck. Remy: "He needs to see results, and he needs to see 'em right away." And... a well hit line drive but caught by Carl Crawford in left. Get 'em next time.
* Ellsbury bounces one across the infield to Iwamura.
* Navarro grounds out to first.
Heidi Watney in turtleneck and wool coat...not sporting her summer wardrobe yet. Soon enough...
And while, we're on subjects sartorial: I cannot say enough bad things about those Holden Caulfield-style earflap caps. Joe Maddon looks very, very foolish. (That said, I do love Thee Headcoats.)
* Beckett gives up a walk to Gross for the Ray's first baserunner.
Maddon update...Don and Jerry say people made fun of him for looking like Elmer Fudd. He retorted that Elmer Fudd is "iconic." I agree. He still looks ridiculous.
* And ... Tek still can't throw out baserunners. Gross slides into second.
* Beckett getting chilly? Bottom of the order giving him trouble here.
* Dammit. Iwamura knocks one into left. Bay gets it back in toute d'suite, but bases loaded now.
* Craford flies out to Ellsbury, but Gross tags up and scores. 1-1.
* Longoria flies out to right to end the inning.
Happy Birthday, Bobby Doerr! 91 years young, and the nicest Hall of Famer I've ever met. Hope you caught a couple big trout out in Oregon today.
* Pedroia walks.
* Ortiz gives it a ride to deep right, but the wind knocks it down.
* Yikes. Youkilis has never had a hit against Shields in reg. season. 0-18.... But now those days are over. Great at-bat, and a nice little single to left for his troubles.
* Fantastic. Carlos Pena makes a miraculous play to get JD out at first, but Pedroia scores from first. 2-1, Sox.
* J-Bay! slices a grounder into right and Youk is waved around. 3-1, Sox.
* Lowell!!! A Monster denter, and Bay scores from first! 4-1, Sox.
* Lowrie! A dying quail into shallow left, and it's first and third with 2 outs. Please don't @#$% this up, Tek.
* Tek, I thought I asked you not to do that.
* Haverill's own Carlos Pena strikes out.
* Pat Burrell takes Bay all the way to the scoreboard in left. Bay makes the catch.
* Beckett must have had a wee dram of Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey, because he is looking well!!! Sits Matt Joyce down on four pitches.
* Ellsbury grounds out. Meh.
* And Pedroia does the same. Eh.
* Papi flies out. Gah.
* Beckett just keeps nailing his location and hitting mid-90s. Strikes out Navarro.
* And does the same to Gross, making the poor guy swing wildly at nothing through the chilly April air.
* Bartlett flies out.
* Yooooooook juuuuuuust misses a HR to deep center, but ends up with an easy double. TB bullpens warming.
* JD walks.
* Bay hammers one to Crawford to left, who knocks it down. Youk books it, slides into third and is lucky he didn't snap his shin in half, and is out. Bummer.
* Aye. Lowell looking ugly on a Shields changeup. Then grounds into DP, with JD out at 3rd.
* Iwamura walks
* Crawford hits a double into center.
* Longoria slams a foul into his ankle, shakes it off, then pops out to Varitek in foul ground.
Is it wrong that, nearly ten years later, I still hate Tim Tschida?
* Kapow! Beckett strikes out Carlos Pena for the third time today. Glad I benched CP on my fantasy team.
* Burrell grounds out. C'mon...keep it rolling.
* Bah. Lowrie strikes out. Shields is hanging tough.
* TEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wraps one around the Pesky Pole! 5-1. Shields is not hanging tough anymore.
Lance Cormier in to pitch. For some reason I'm disappointed he's not Rheal's brother. He is from Louisiana, though, so presumably they're both Acadian.
* Gets Ellsbury to ground out, and Pedroia to fly out, and Joshy Ace steps back out for the 7th.
Orsillo asks: "How will Francona use his new bullpen?" Okajima is warming, so maybe he doesn't wanna unwrap it yet.
* Joyce down by way of the K. Nine of 'em so far for Beckett.
* Navarro grounds out to Pedroia.
* Gabe Gross ... POW. Ten strikeouts. Buy that Josh Beckett a beer.
* No more Ortiz shift from Maddon...make him pay, Papi. OK, I'll take a walk.
* Youk chopper to shallow center...Papi out at second, but Kevin safe at first.
* Youk takes second on a wild pitch and a horrible throw to second by Navarro. Joe Biden coulda been more accurate.
* JD grounds out, but Youk onto third.
* Bay lofts one to deep center, which is caught in the windy gyres, but with some stutter steps, Joyce has it.
Okajima on for the eighth.
NESN using Grateful Dead "Scarlet Begonias" for bumper music. Shouldn't they be playing Phish? (Maybe it's a good thing that I don't have any tix to any games this season...I'm really worried they won't be able to rid the park of patchouli stink.)
* Okajima hits Bartlett with a pitch.
* Then walks Iwamura.
* But strikes out Crawford!
Masterson jogs in.
* Ugh. Double steal, suddenly men at second & third.
* @#$%!!! Longoria puts one into right center and both gus score. 5-3.
* Wow, Pena strikes out *again*... once, twice, thrice, frice?
* Burrell flies out to Drew in right.
* Lowell grounds to short.
* Lowrie stikes out.
* Tek flies out to center.
Papelbon ready. Let's do this.
* Matt Joyce pops to second.
Tito seems like he's chewing plain ol' gum again. Will it last this time?
* Papelbon making it easier for him to kick the tobacco habit. Strikes out Navarro on a 94 mph heater.
* Red Sox fans have looonged hear Orsillo say it: "Heeeeeeeeee struck him out!!"
(Papelbon struck Gabe Gross out, that is. Put this one in the books)
"Good game ... good game ... good game ... good game ... good game."