No Street closure in opener
Oakland's closer yields three late runs as A's stumble vs. Sox
TOKYO -- Mature well beyond his 24 years, Huston Street knows what comes with being a big league closer. Explaining your failures, in detail, is part of the deal.
Street gave up a game-tying homer to Boston's Brandon Moss in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday in the season opener for both teams at Tokyo Dome, and Manny Ramirez beat Street with a two-run, two-out double in the 10th.
So after Boston's 6-5 victory in the first game of the two-game Japan Opening Series 2008, Street stood at his locker and took the heat.
He copped to throwing a bad changeup to Moss. Street second-guessed himself for the 1-2 slider that Ramirez took to the opposite field and banged off the wall in right-center field. And Street refused to second-guess Oakland manager Bob Geren's decision to intentionally walk David Ortiz with a runner on second ahead of Ramirez in the 10th.
"I believe Ortiz is 0-for-5 with four strikeouts against me," Street said, and he was right. "But [walking him is] completely understandable in that situation, with a base open. ... He asked me to get Manny out, and that's what I needed to do."
Street did not, of course, and he wasn't the only one kicking himself mentally after the game. Emil Brown's RBI double off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with one out in the bottom of the 10th cut Boston's lead in half, but Brown got hung up between second and third base when the throw home was cut off in the infield.
Brown was tagged out, and ensuing singles by Bobby Crosby and Jack Hannahan were rendered all but meaningless.
"It was a baserunning mistake," Brown said. "I was thinking the throw was going home all the way. ... I don't think I would have been the hero if that didn't happen, but it takes something away from Crosby. He could have been the hero."
The A's took advantage of Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka's early command issues, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After Mark Ellis lined a one-out solo homer into the bleachers in left-center, Matsuzaka walked Daric Barton, hit Jack Cust with a pitch, uncorked a wild pitch and loaded the bases by walking Brown before Barton scored on a groundout by Crosby.
Hannahan struck out with runners at second and third to end the first, and Cust struck out with the bases loaded to end the second inning on Matsuzaka's 60th pitch of the game. The popular Japanese righty cruised through the next three innings on 35 pitches before being lifted after the Red Sox finally broke through against A's starter Joe Blanton.
Blanton was stingy and efficient early, giving up four singles while ripping through the first five frames on 69 pitches, but the vaunted Red Sox offense surged in the sixth. After a double by Dustin Pedroia and a walk to Kevin Youkilis, Ramirez grounded a two-run double down the left-field line and eventually scored on a two-out single from Moss, chasing Blanton.
"Manny's just a great hitter," Blanton said. "The pitch he hit the double on off me, it was a sinker down and in, a good pitch. I'll throw that same pitch 100 out of 100 times in that situation. But he went and got it. He's been the best right-handed hitter since he's been in the game, and he showed that again tonight."
Righty Kyle Snyder took over for Matsuzaka in the bottom of the frame, and the A's got to him quickly, too. Crosby led off with a single up the middle, and Hannahan followed with a bullet into the right-field bleachers to put Oakland back in front, 4-3.
A's relievers Alan Embree and Keith Foulke shut out the Red Sox on one hit over 2 1/3 innings after Blanton's departure, but Moss pulled a pitch from Street into the right-field seats with one out in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
"It wasn't," Street said, "a good changeup."
Julio Lugo opened the 10th inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pedroia. After striking out Youkilis, Street intentionally walked Ortiz to set up Ramirez's heroics and send home happy the vociferously pro-Boston crowd.
"Whether you're playing in the backyard or opening in Japan, that's never how you want to start your season," Street said. "I'm not going to dwell on it ... but it is very disappointing."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.