Red Sox 3, Rangers 2
Still, Jonathan Papelbon had to save the day for Boston.
And the hard-throwing right-hander did it with perhaps the most impressive save of his young career, getting five outs to make sure the Red Sox held on for a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
“The way it finished was awesome. That’s just an unbelievable job,” Schilling said. “That’s the definition of a tough save. … Very few guys can get that result. He’s one of them.”
With two runners on, Papelbon came on to get Michael Young—the 2005 AL batting champion and a .300 career hitter—on a called third strike. He then retired switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira on an inning-ending infield popout.
“He was devastating, and we needed every bit of that,” manager Terry Francona said. “What he did against the middle of their order, you’re not going to see that very often.”
It was Papelbon’s second save this season—and came in the same stadium where he got his first career save for the Red Sox last April.
“Everything that has built up from last year has just kind of carried into this year,” said Papelbon, who almost became a starter this spring after saving 35 games as a rookie. “Every year, every pitch, every inning, I get more and more confidence.”
Ortiz was in a 2-for-18 slump before he hit a solo homer in the first inning and added a two-run shot in the third off Vicente Padilla (0-2) that put the Red Sox ahead to stay. It was his 27th career multihomer game.
Schilling (1-1) allowed only one run and four hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and a walk. He retired his last 10 batters and the only Texas runner who got past first base against him was Frank Catalanotto, who hit a solo homer in the first inning.
In Boston’s season opener at Kansas City, Schilling allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings. That was the first time since July 2001 that the 40-year-old right-hander didn’t make it past four innings.
“Coming off the heels of an outing that was not very Schilling-like, he gave us what we needed,” Francona said.
But the two relievers before Papelbon almost blew it.
Joel Pineiro walked the first two batters in the eighth before Kenny Lofton reached on an infield single when trying to advance the runners with a bunt. Pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz, the only batter faced by Javier Lopez, drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder.
That gave Francona no choice but to go to Papelbon.
“It’s hard to let a game get away without Pap,” Francona said.
“Everything was lined up perfect. We had the right guys up at the plate,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Give Papelbon credit. He came in and put the lights out.”
Young said the 96 mph fastball he took over the outside part of the plate was “a great pitch.”
Padilla also allowed only four hits over seven innings, but gave up the homers to Ortiz. He struck out four, walked one and retired his last nine batters.
After leading the AL with a team-record 54 homers and 137 RBIs last year, Ortiz started this season with an RBI double in his first at-bat. He didn’t drive in another run until the finale of the team’s season-opening six-game road trip.
The only Red Sox homer in the first five games was hit by Kevin Youkilis.
Boston finally plays at Fenway Park on Tuesday against Seattle.
Catalanotto was 0-for-10 in his return to Texas before he pulled a ball down the right-field line that was just inside the pole to tie the game. Young followed with a single, but the Rangers had only three more base runners against Schilling.
Ortiz’s first homer came on a 94 mph fastball thrown over the middle of the plate, a line shot that cleared the fence in right-center field.
Alex Cora, who started at second base to become the last Boston player in a game this season, was hit by a pitch to start the third. Ortiz then hit his second homer to right.
Catalanotto, who hit .330 for Texas in 2001 and spent the past four seasons in Toronto, had never had a longer hitless streak to start a season. … Rangers 1B Teixeira was presented his 2006 Gold Glove award, his second in a row. Former Rangers C Jim Sundberg, a six-time Gold Glove winner, took part in the pregame presentation.