BOSTON - Jim Rice may not have thrown a perfect strike for the ceremonial first pitch prior to last night's 9-8 loss to the Oakland Athletics, (it was a bit high) but that's not what the 38,084 fans at Fenway Park will remember years from now.
What they, and Rice himself, will recall is the unveiling of the newly-inducted Hall of Famer's famed No. 14 on the right-field faÃßade as the legendary left fielder became the seventh member of the Red Sox organization to have his jersey number retired by the club.
Rice, who hit .298 with 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs in 2,089 games spanning 16 seasons all in Boston, was awed by the gravity of the situation.
"When you think about being in the same category as (Ted) Williams and (Carl) Yastrzemski ... being in the Hall of Fame with those two other left fielders, that's a lot," Rice said.
With former teammates Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans (among others) on hand, Rice delivered an impassioned address. Rice's career-long mentor, Johnny Pesky, unveiled the newest retired number.
"I was thinking that (Pesky) wasn't raising that number for me, he was raising it for us," said Rice. "He worked with me every day on offense an d defense. ... Johnny was a father figure, a mentor to me."
Current Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay hasn't spent as much time around Rice as most of his Red Sox teammates, but he's certainly still able to fully appreciate the accomplishments of the 1978 MVP and eight-time All-Star.
He's a hit!
Jacoby Ellsbury extended his multi-hit game streak to five games yesterday, going 2 for 6 with two singles. Prior to last night's game, Ellsbury was 9 for 18 with three doubles and a triple over the four-game span. He is second on the team only to Dustin Pedroia, who has 33 multi-hit games this year. The last player to tally at least five straight multi-hit games was Coco Crisp, who had six from Sept. 2-8 last season.
One that got away
Tommy Everidge collected his first career hit in his first major league game in the ninth inning off closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed three runs - two earned - as the Athletics plated three in the frame to tie the game, 7-7. For Papelbon, who's had a quite ordinary 2009 after several extraordinary seasons in the not-so distant past, it was a season high for runs allowed and the seventh time he's given up at lea st one earned run in a game this year.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield played catch yesterday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on July 9 with a back strain. The throwing session was said to have gone very well. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka claims the Red Sox training regimen is to blame for his fatigue, but pitching coach John Farrell defended the regimen and instead claimed that Matsuzaka has not yet been able to fully adapt to the season-long rigors of Major League Baseball. Matsuzaka will be examined by team doctors in Fort Myers, Fla. when the team is in Tampa Aug. 4-5.
Odds and Ends
The Red Sox yesterday acquired outfielder Brian Anderson, a 2003 first-round selection (15th overall) who owns a .225 career batting average, from the Chicago White Sox for recently-designated outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay. In 65 games with the White Sox this season, the 27-year-old Anderson batted .238 with two home runs and 13 RBIs. ... In his post-game press conference, manager Terry Francona explained that David Ortiz was pinch hit for by Adam LaRoche in the seventh inning because he had to accompany his daughter to the hospital on what was hoped to be a "precautionary visit."
... The Red Sox bullpen had not allowed a run in 25.1 innings prior to the seventh inning, when Ramon Ramirez gave up a run.
Did you know? Jim Rice edition
Jim Rice ranks among the Red Sox organization's all-time leaders in at bats (3rd), hits (3rd), home runs (3rd), RBIs (3rd), games played (4th), runs (4th), doubles (6th), triples (6th), slugging percentage (8th) and walks (8th). ... Rice won the International League Triple crown in 1974, batting .337 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs for the Pawtucket Red Sox. ... Rice is the only American League player to reach 400 total bases (406 in 1978) aside from Joe DiMaggio, who collected 418 in 1937.