Brandon Moss will never get the top billing as a Red Sox outfielder. In fact, he won't even be the top athlete named Moss in the city he plays in. But Tuesday morning, half a world away from home, Moss began the Red Sox title defense in heroic fashion.
Moss expected to begin 2008 a bench player for the Red Sox, but was given the chance to start the season in right field when the oft-injured JD Drew hurt his back during batting practice. "He looked great. I didn't know anything was going on," Moss said of Drew's pregame regimen. When told he might be given an opportunity to start, Moss surprisingly replied, "oh, ok."
When the rookie stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of a tie game with Manny Ramirez on second base and hit Joe Blanton's pitch into right field, he brought Ramirez to the plate, gave the Red Sox their first lead of the season, and perhaps most importantly, chased Blanton from the game. Prior to that inning, Boston had managed just four hits off of Blanton and no runners had reached third base.
The Red Sox lead, however, would be short lived. Jack Hannahan's two run homer off of Kyle Snyder in the bottom half of the inning would give Oakland a 4-3 lead.
The score would stay that way until the top half of the ninth. Oakland's 24 year-old closer Huston Street had saved 76 games over the past three seasons, more than any other pitcher had at age 24. Moss was not about to let his first save of 2008 come at the Red Sox' expense. Moss drove Street's 2-2 offering into the stands at the Tokyo Dome, tying the game at four runs apiece. It was Moss's first career homerun.
The Red Sox would go on to win in 10 innings.
While it may be an unfortunate circumstance that thrust Moss into the spotlight, his performance Tuesday will allow a team already suffering from the injury bug to rest a bit easier.