The Red Sox came within three outs and one bonehead Jim Leyland decision of being shutout yesterday in Detroit. And it got me thinking: When was the last time the Sox were shutout on Opening Day?
Initially, I didn't think it would be that long ago, what with early spring weather usually in the pitcher's favor, and the fact that the Sox annually go up against the other team's No. 1 arm.
I don't know, maybe it was sometime in the last 10 years? 20 years at most? Back in the days of Bob Zupcic, Jack Clark and Butch Hobson, I figured.
I figured wrong.
Today's Box Score Bank takes us back to April 9, 1976.
Disco Lady by Johnny Taylor was the No. 1 song in the U.S. The original Rocky had just brought home Best Picture at the Oscars. Gerald Ford was president. David Ortiz was barely five months old (or was it five years old?).
And down at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Jim Palmer was having his way with the Sox.
April 9, 1976: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0
Like Justin Verlander, Palmer went eight strong innings for the Birds. But unlike Verlander, Palmer's closer the legendary Dyar Miller got the job done in the ninth.
Two note on this game:
1. There was some serious star power, as both starting pitchers Palmer and Fergie Jenkins (who pitched a complete game in defeat) were future Hall of Famers. The Sox also had three Hall of Famers their line-up with Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastresmki. The Orioles had only one other future HOFer on the field that day 39-year-old Brooks Robinson but hey, six Hall of Famers aren't bad.
Out of curiosity: How many do you think were on the field yesterday?
I guess its hard to call anyone automatic at this stage in their career, but I think we had at least nine possibilities on display in Detroit:
1. Ellsbury 2. Pedroia 3. Gonzales 4. Ortiz 5. Fielder 6. Cabrera 7. Verlander 8. Lester 9. Vincente Padilla.
Look about right?
2. After the game, Jim Rice said that while he loved playing at Fenway, it was nothing quite like singing at Fenway!
Just kidding. He didn't say that because the game was actually on the road. And because he probably didn't speak to the media at all.